Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nicholas Kristof is waiting for a "moderate" Mitt Romney to come back after the primaries are over.

Kristof's views on Romney are refreshingly sensible, with a nuance that's been lacking from most left-leaning commentary on Romney (remember back in 2004 when we were supposed to care about "nuance"?):

The Democratic National Committee has already released a slick four-minute video . . . excoriating Romney for his gymnastics:

“Mitt Romney, unparalleled flip-flopper, has proved he is his own toughest opponent on the issues,” the Democrats write on, where the video is housed. “The one thing Mitt and Mitt can agree on? That they want to be president — so Romney will say and do whatever it takes to get elected, no matter how contradictory.”

[T]he Democratic claims of constant inconstancy seem exaggerated. The excellent Web site found that most of the accusations in the Democrats’ video were dubious. Typically, Romney had a fairly complex position, and the Democrats caricatured it to portray a flip that wasn’t there or that was ambiguous. For example, Romney supported a stimulus, but not of the magnitude of Obama’s, so it wasn’t a flip-flop for him to oppose the Obama stimulus.

If we do see, as I expect we will, a reversion in the direction of the Massachusetts Romney, that’s a flip we should celebrate. Until the Republican primaries sucked him into its vortex, he was a pragmatist and policy wonk rather similar to Bill Clinton and President Obama but more conservative. (Clinton described Romney to me as having done “a very good job” in Massachusetts.) Romney was much closer to George H.W. Bush than to George W. Bush.

One reason to expect a re-emergence of the traditional moderate Romney — other than that it will be expedient — is that his advisers incline in that direction.

On the economy, Romney has been advised by the likes of Professor Gregory Mankiw of Harvard and Professor Glenn Hubbard of Columbia. Both are experienced, prominent figures, albeit tending conservative. In foreign affairs, Romney’s advisers have included Richard Williamson, Eric Edelman, Meghan O’Sullivan, Paula Dobriansky, Daniel Senor and Dov Zakheim. These, too, are credible, respected figures.

So, in the coming months, the most interesting political battle may be between Romney and Romney. Now, do we really want a chameleon as a nominee for president? That’s a legitimate question. But I’d much rather have a cynical chameleon than a far-right ideologue who doesn’t require contortions to appeal to Republican primary voters, who says things that Republican candidates have all been saying and, God forbid, actually means it.
So would I.


Anonymous said...

What if he's lying to you.....