The Washington Post wants you to know that Mitt Romney is the "inevitable" Republican nominee for president. It may only be October of 2011, months before a single primary vote will be cast, but it's all over.
How do we know this? Romney has the blessing of the bundlers and has even snagged that crucial Dennis Hastert endorsement. The GOP establishment's hope is that we'll be good boys and girls and vote sensibly, for the "electable" candidate, who's smooth in the debates and always willing to adjust his views with an eye to the main chance. That the liberal media joins the establishment in pushing Romney's "inevitability" ought to give us pause.
So don't be distracted by the surging Herman Cain, who the Post acknowledges is "numerically ahead" of Romney in many polls. Nor should you worry your pretty little head over Gov. Rick Perry, who isn't nearly as polished as the establishment candidate but has some money, a great media team, and more conservative cred than the father of Romneycare.
Romney, in spite of all his years of practice, can't always hide his basic liberal tendencies. He attacked from the left in his 2002 bid for governor of Massachusetts and has done the same with his recent granny-scaring tactics in defense of Medicare. William Saletan has noticed that some of Romney's answers in the most recent debate could only have come from a liberal mindset:
4. Middle-class tax cuts. An hour into the debate, Newt Gingrich asked Romney:Saletan:
One of the characteristics of Obama in his class-warfare approach has been to talk about going after people who made over $250,000 a year and divide us. And I was a little surprised—I think it's about page 47 of your plan—that you have a capital-gains tax cut for people under $200,000, which is actually lower than the Obama model. Now, as a businessman, you know that you actually lose economic effectiveness if you limit capital gains tax cuts only to people who don't get capital gains. So I'm curious: What was the rationale for setting an even lower base marker than Obama had?
The reason for giving a tax break to middle-income Americans is that middle-income Americans have been the people who have been most hurt by the Obama economy. … Median income in America has declined by 10 percent during the Obama years. People are having a hard time making ends meet. And so if I'm going to use precious dollars to reduce taxes, I want to focus on where the people are hurting the most, and that's the middle class. I'm not worried about rich people. They are doing just fine. The very poor have a safety net, they're taken care of. But the people in the middle, the hard-working Americans, are the people who need a break, and that is why I focused my tax cut right there.
If I'm going to use precious dollars to reduce taxes, I want to focus on where the people are hurting the most. That’s Romney’s most revealing statement of the night. A property-oriented conservative would say that dollars belong to the people who earned them and that tax cuts should let them keep more of their money. But Romney’s formulation—“ use precious dollars to reduce taxes”—assumes that the dollars are his to “focus,” i.e. distribute, according to need. Again, it’s a defensible worldview. But it’s fundamentally liberal.It's not over.
Don’t get me wrong. Romney’s positions on taxes, regulation, and military spending put him clearly in the right half of the political spectrum. But his comments last night show a leakage of liberal sentiments well before the general election. Maybe he thinks the nomination is sewn up. Maybe, if he keeps talking this way, it won’t be.
Michael Walsh: Is Romney really the best we can do?
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