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Misunderstanding Mittens

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I wanted to elaborate on what I think is the biggest error being made by Greenwald and Taibbi — namely, the idea that Mitt Romney is a “centrist.”

It’s worth noting here that the original Gush-Bore argument was made by a variety of people across the ideological spectrum, with a presumably wide variety of evaluations of the Clinton/Gore record. Not just Naderites but prominent centrists and Manhattan liberals advanced the argument that the 2000 election was a boring affair with nothing much at stake, helping lead us on the road to Iraq, Sam Alito, massive upper-class tax cuts, and many other terrible and highly consequential things that wouldn’t have happened with Al Gore in the White House. That people are making the same transparently foolish error with a Democratic candidate who has governed to the left of Clinton/Gore and a Republican running to the right of George W. Bush is mind-boggling. But the key error, like last time, seems being inexplicably suckered by the fake “moderation” of the Republican candidate.

To start with the trivial and unknowable question first, I have no idea why so many people are convinced that the Romney who was governor of Massachusetts is the “real” Romney. If I had to guess, I would speculate that instinctively Romney is substantially more conservative on social issues than Reagan or either Bush and no better on economic issues. But, anyway, even if I’m wrong about that it’s completely irrelevant. He’ll govern as the head of a very right-wing Republican coalition and will be working with a Republican Congress that will send him plenty of terrible legislation. He’ll be working with the Republican foreign policy apparatus that will be urging him to attack Iran and will probably succeed. We don’t even want to think about what will happen to the federal courts. What Romney really thinks about this stuff is beside the point. John Tyler isn’t a successful leadership model for someone who wants to run for re-election.

And for that matter, it’s not correct to say that Romney’s record as governor as Massachusetts is meaningfully “moderate.” Sure, it was moderate for a national Republican…but for a Republican who wanted statewide office in Massachusetts it was about as wingnutty as he could get away with. As a commenter astutely noted, Ronald Reagan had by national standards a relatively moderate record as governor of California. Who cares? If you think Romney will govern as a moderate because of his record as governor, your number must be very valuable to people who sell lists to telemarketers.

There’s nothing “centrist” about Mitt Romney, 2012 Republican presidential candidate. He’s be worse-to-far worse than the Obama administration on most issues and better on absolutely none. If you’re bored by the 2012 elections that’s your privilege (in more ways than one), but if you think the stakes are trivial you’re out of your mind.

…By the way, I should mention Rob found a Matt Stoller classic where he pledges his life savings and house to Bernie Maddoff: “Trying to figure out whether I think [Romney winning] would be modestly good or modestly bad. Romney’s more liberal than ppl think.” Jeez, at least Bush had to make some vague gestures towards moderation to convince the rubes. Anyway, if you think that 1896 was a huge win for progressive politics, you will indeed love the Romney administration.

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