The polls remain tight, with several national pollsters giving Mitt Romney a small lead for the first time. Viewed strictly in terms of political science, rather than partisan politics, it’s a fascinating and rather sudden turn of events.
And what does it mean?
I think it’s fair to say that should Mitt Romney end up winning the presidential race, his victory will be a repudiation, rather than a validation, of modern American conservatism. I don’t know how else to interpret the fact that Romney was losing the race, badly, right up to the moment in the first debate that he ran fleeing from conservativism like a 12-year-old girl fleeing a Halloween haunted-house attraction.
Look where he stands today in terms of policy, compared to a few weeks ago, and the contrast is stunning:
He has pledged to the world that he won’t cut taxes, and most important of all he would never cut them for the rich. He also promises that he won’t do a thing about trying to outlaw or restrict abortion, and like Obama, he’s not going to kick out illegal immigrants brought here as children.
He won’t reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and his health-care plan is going to cover those with pre-existing conditions. His “47 percent” comments, he tells us now, were “just completely wrong,” and he won’t reduce spending on Medicare or Social Security and he won’t cut education either. He’s even in favor of government regulation because “you can’t have a free market work if you don’t have regulation.”
Every single one of those newly packaged positions contradicts or seriously compromises an important conservative position. He and his advisers — in this case reportedly his wife and eldest son — came to the wise conclusion that he could not win otherwise, and the market has confirmed their wisdom.
The question, of course, is how Romney would govern if actually elected. I don’t have a clue on that one.
– Jay Bookman