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Posted at 2:13 PM ET, 12/16/2010

An unusual argument

By Ezra Klein

Ross Douthat looks at the case for Mitt Romney:

Yes, the argument runs, Romney seems serially insincere, and nearly every position he stakes out comes across as a blatant (and often inconsistent-looking) pander to a conservative electorate that regards him with suspicion. But there are good ideas concealed within the pandering — you just have to know where to look! And in your heart, you know he’s a smart guy who’d make a solid center-right president — wonkish, detail-oriented, sensible on policy, all the rest of it. He’s just a prisoner of the process! And heck, maybe his transparent insincerity is even a virtue: It shows that try as he might, he can’t give himself over completely to the carnival of a primary campaign, because he’s fundamentally too sober and serious to be a carnival barker. (He’s no Palin, is the implication …) Even when he’s mid-pander, you always know that he knows that it’s all just a freak show, and you can always sense that he’d rather be at a policy seminar somewhere, instead of just forking red meat. There’s a highly competent chief executive trapped inside his campaign persona, in other words, and the only way to liberate him is to put him in the White House!

This is an … unusual argument.

By Ezra Klein  | December 16, 2010; 2:13 PM ET
 
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Comments

AND Romney can be counted on to pass socialist programs like... RomneyCare! He's "center-right", but only if you believe propagandists, like Klein.

Posted by: msoja | December 16, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Upon reading your comment, Ezra, I laughed out loud for the first time today. Thanks!

Posted by: ctnickel | December 16, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I have said that about Romney for a while. I used to think the same thing about Huckabee. He was generally a good guy as Governor of Arkansas, but once he got into the Republican primary, he basically had to say all this foolish stuff in order to win the primary.

Posted by: donhalljobs | December 16, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Unusual times call for unusual arguments.

Posted by: willows1 | December 16, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

If you're Obama, the one guy you do not want to see is Mitt Romney.

Its funny to read this, I assume that Douthat went back and found some of the old Al Gore commentary and updated it for Mitt Romney, because people used to say the same thing about Gore....he's a horrible campaigner, but campaigns are stupid so ignore that because he'll be a good President.

Nothing ever is new in politics.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | December 16, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Um, msoja, you do realize that RomneyCare was nearly identical to health care proposals of conservative think tanks like the Heritage foundation from the 1990s? If you can describe it as a policy of the left, it's only because the Republicans have effectively moved the goalposts so far...

Posted by: tagimaucia | December 16, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

zeppelin - If I'm Obama, the one guy I don't want to see is Justin Bieber. Well, actually, I just don't want to see Justin Bieber.

Posted by: willows1 | December 16, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Romney is like Hillary Clinton smart as whip but totally bereft of any political instinct whatsoever. He would be a poor president because he would always be too late to the party or too early.

He would be a great opponent for Obama however because his lack of charisma would prevent him from outshining the President. Additionally there is a problem with employment coming in late 2011 or 2012 that will be caused by private equity. Obama will have immunity in that crisis if he runs against Romney who used to head a PE firm.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 16, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

This is just the latest version of the pathetic "but the real John McCain" pieces we had to read for 8 years. Though I don't see it catching on.

Posted by: randrewm | December 16, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Hear Hear, Ross Doutha!

Posted by: RisingTideLiftsAllBoats | December 16, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Tim Pawlenty will be the nominee.

He's basically Mitt Romney (money guys like him! Moderates like him!), but he came on the scene many years later.

This means not only does he have a much smaller set of opportunistic position changes to explain away (the advantage of all "new" politicians), but also it means he wasn't there for the "we're going to try to actually get things done" part of the Republican party's history. So, he doesn't have to explain away huge liabilities like getting affordable healthcare for millions of people through a public-private compromise solution.

And, you know, he's a baptist with 100% anti-choice record instead of Mormon with a moderate position on a woman's right to choose an abortion.

It's going to be Timmy!

Posted by: theorajones1 | December 16, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

theorajones1 - America will elect a black man, a woman, a gay person, a Mormon, heck maybe even a Jewish person to be President. But they will never, ever elect a Minnesotan. Hot dish? Rubber binder? "Grey duck"?? And that's not even getting into the issue of, well, I'll just go ahead and say it. Hockey.

Posted by: willows1 | December 16, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I like how left-wingers are quick to point out Mitt Romney's backing of the health-care reform brought to Massachusetts, and compare it to what Obama brought to the country as a whole....as if it is somehow inconsistent for Republicans to support Romney while bashing Obamacare.

To those folks on the left, I always like to remind them that there is a difference between a state, and a country. The founders new that. The constitution embraced that. But somehow liberals have a hard time understanding the difference between the two. Mind-boggling...

Posted by: dbw1 | December 16, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

LOL - first of all, 100% agree re:bieber. I'm the fortunate one person in this country that has never heard this kid sing anything...thank god.

back to prez politics, I think Mitt Romney will try and instruct all of us on federalism and "laboratories of democracy" and all this as his escape hatch re: Obamacare/Romneycare charges he will surely face from GOP competitors for the nomination. it just might work.

And quite frankly, having lived in massachusetts and remembered the real Romney before this, I dont know that if we must have a Republican president he isnt the best one to get.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | December 16, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

"Um, msoja, you do realize that RomneyCare was nearly identical to health care proposals of conservative think tanks like the Heritage foundation from the 1990s? If you can describe it as a policy of the left, it's only because the Republicans have effectively moved the goalposts so far..."

tagimaucia,

Actually, if RomneyCare/ObamaCare were born as proposals of conservative think tanks, it's merely because socialists, using a Fabian strategy, had already moved the goalposts that far to the left:

"The Fabian Society is a British socialist movement, whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means."

"The Fabians lobbied for the introduction of a minimum wage in 1906, for the creation of a universal health care system in 1911 and for the abolition of hereditary peerages in 1917[3].

Fabian socialists were in favour of reforming Britain's imperialist foreign policy as a conduit for internationalist reform and a welfare state modelled on the Bismarckian German model; they criticised Gladstonian liberalism both for its individualism at home and its imperialism abroad."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabian_Society

Sounds quite a bit like modern American Democrats, doesn't it?

Posted by: justin84 | December 16, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"a woman's right to choose an abortion."

Right to choose? There are no rights. The state may or may not let women choose an abortion, but it's up to the discretion of the government.

If a bunch of social conservatives take power and want women to be barefoot and pregnant, they better do it.

Abandoning natural rights when it comes to property makes it awfully hard to justify a right to anything else in any other context.

Posted by: justin84 | December 16, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

"And in your heart, you know he’s a smart guy who’d make a solid center-right president — wonkish, detail-oriented, sensible on policy, all the rest of it."

no , he's far right with a slightly better cover, he made his money exporting American jobs, he hates women and gays, and he's slimier than george h bush.


Posted by: newagent99 | December 16, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

"And in your heart, you know he’s a smart guy who’d make a solid center-right president — wonkish, detail-oriented, sensible on policy, all the rest of it."

no , he's far right with a slightly better cover, he made his money exporting American jobs, he hates women and gays, and he's slimier than george h bush.


Posted by: newagent99 | December 16, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Romney markets himself as a moderate one day and an uber-conservative the next. He changes political positions like he changes socks. His approach to moral issues is inconsistent. Romney is a contradiction-in-motion, weak and insecure.

A person like Romney who constantly reinvents him/herself, changes policy positions on the turn-of-a-dime and engages in willful deception cannot be trusted in a position of power.

Furthermore it would be more than foolhardy to believe Romney could imbue confidence, strength and inspiration when he has neither the fortitude to stand on principle, the courage to stay true to his beliefs nor the conviction to argue on merit rather than deceit.

With all that said, putting Romney in the WH would be a colossal mistake and a gamble Iam not willing to take.


Posted by: serena1313 | December 18, 2010 7:07 AM | Report abuse

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