I hate to keep picking on Mitt Romney, but…oh, who am I kidding. I love to pick on Mitt Romney! He’s an Onion headline in a suit! He’s John Kerry with an R after his name! Today’s new hilarity comes from an unnamed adviser in this Washington Post story about Republicans trashing Romney’s inconveniently sane (and possibly disqualifyingly sane) views on global warming science. “The fact that he doesn’t change his position…that’s the upside for us,” the Romney adviser said. “He’s not going to change his mind on these issues to put his finger in the wind for what scores points with these parts of the party.”
Finger in the wind? Change his mind? Never. It’s not like global warming science is abortion rights or gay rights or gun control or health care or campaign finance or immigration or any of the other issues where Romney has stuck his finger in the wind and changed his mind. Oh, no. He would never flip-flop on global warming science.
Put it this way: If steadfast consistency is Romney’s upside, then quiet humility was Donald Trump’s upside.
There’s a serious point buried in my Romney mockery. It’s painful to watch an accomplished public servant spending most of his time trying to pretend he’s as loony as the Republican base, and failing because the base can see through him in a second. It’s like watching the class dweeb run for class clown. And when he does try to steer his party toward sanity – -by acknowledging the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate, even though he promises not to do much about it — the Rush Limbaughs of the right rip him to shreds. Like I said when Charlie Crist was still crushing Marco Rubio in the GOP primary: Given a choice between a Republican and a Republican, Republicans usually pick the Republican. The point is that these days being a real Republican means defying reality — not just on global warming, but on the tax code, the deficit, health care, and just about everything else.
Unfortunately for Romney, he’s not quite as comfortable defying reality as Tim Pawlenty, who’s running on a platform that magical tax cuts will cure all our problems by producing forty-twelve percent growth for the next eleventy thousand years. And he’s not as comfortable in his own skin as Jon Huntsman, who’s also reality-based, and therefore probably doomed in the primary, but seems less likely to sacrifice his dignity running away from his public record; if the primary electorate somehow decides that it’s more desperate for electability than purity, Huntsman seems much more plausible than Romney, even if he did serve in the Kenyan Socialist Administration.
That said, watching Romney desperately try to contort himself into a shape he thinks primary voters might like is endlessly amusing. Who knows? Maybe Mitt 4.0 will be all about consistency.