One of the most remarkable phenomena of the current presidential campaign is the silence of the right-wing in the face of Mitt Romney’s rampant apostasy. Romney did his best in the primary season to prove he really is “severely conservative,” enduring the loud complaints from the party’s base that he wasn’t really conservative at all.
Yet in the past month, Romney uttered a string of heresies that just a few months earlier would have gotten him burned as a nonbeliever.
- In the first presidential debate, Romney spoke out in favor of government regulation. Conservatives never have anything good to say about regulation, particularly in the context of the Dodd-Frank bill.
- Romney told the Des Moines Register he wasn’t aware of any legislation around abortion “that would become part of my agenda.” A clearer threat to the pro-life lobby is hard to imagine.
- In the second debate, Romney said he supported a way for children brought to the U.S. illegally to become citizens, a slap in the face of hard-core opponents of immigration reform.
- In the final debate, Romney largely agreed with Obama’s policies on Syria,, Egypt and Iran sanctions, hardly the preference of blood-and-guts neocons (many of whom happen to be his own advisors).
This is just a small sampling of the Etch-a-Sketch Mitt currently on display. But he’s only able to get away with it because of the complicity of the right-wing base. Instead of calling Romney on his ideological impurity, as they did in the primary season, they are focused on doing whatever it takes for him to win. Look at the results from Monday’s debate, which Romney clearly lost. Other than a peckish Glenn Beck tweet, conservatives fell all over themselves to heap praise on Romney’s performance and declare him the winner. Nary a word about all the conservative principles that he threw under the bus during his 90 minute informercial for flop sweat. This unity partly explains Romney’s rebound in the polls.
Will conservatives hold their tongues (and noses) if Romney wins on November 6? Hardly. They’ll be looking for recompense for their silence. But the clamor then will be nothing compared to what it will be if Romney loses. Then old Moderate Mitt will be transformed into the Great Satan of Republican politics, leading the party to defeat because of his moderation and leaving that Kenyan Socialist in the White House. Given where Romney stands in the Electoral College vote at present, that seems the more likely scenario.
It would sure be a lot more fun to watch.
Photo by davelawrence8