Jon Chait, like me, is a Mitt Romney fan. The key bits:
Last year, The Boston Globe obtained his campaign strategy document laying out what it called “Primal Code for Brand Romney.” “Primal” is a perfect description for Romney’s view of the GOP base. He approaches conservatism not as a respectable ideology but as a series of (in Lionel Trilling’s famous phrase) irritable mental gestures. The strategy memo suggests he drive home the message “Hillary = France.” Romney has promised to “double Guantanamo” and demanded that Mike Huckabee apologize for criticizing President Bush’s foreign policy. This is like a Hollywood parody of a right-wing Republican–think “Bob Roberts,” or Tom Cruise’s character in Lions for Lambs–but more clever.
If Romney’s public sentiments were more intelligent than this, I’d fear he actually believed it. Giuliani’s conservatism, to offer up one contrast, is intelligent enough for me to think he genuinely buys into it but still dumb enough for me to fear for the future of our country if he manages to win the election. The mindless tribalism of Romney’s pandering is paradoxically reassuring. The form his pandering takes is a measure of the contempt in which he holds the electorate in general and Bush-era Republicans in particular. I share his sentiments completely.
Right. I don’t think one should delude oneself into thinking that Romney is a secret liberal or would become one in office, but he’s a careful, calculating guy. No furtive motions. Rudy Giuliani’s not as right-wing on some issues, but he’s bonkers on others. John McCain, as I’ve said, is flighty — he flip-flops for no good reason, takes up policy positions as a way to prosecute grudges, and loves war. Huckabee’s bonkers. In this GOP field, Romney would be the least-bad president.