Josh Marshall says Mitt Romney “seems so transparently phoney, so willing to say anything that I find him genuinely frightening. And this is something I don’t feel about any of the other credible Republican presidential candidates, though I obviously have criticisms of each.” Well, not that the Romney campaign wants to hear it, but though I clearly have no way of saying for sure, I feel pretty strongly that Romney would be a much less pernicious president than either Rudy Giuliani or John McCain.
My sense is that Romney’s a phony in the best possible sense — he wants to do what people want him to do which means, among other things, that he tries to achieve political popularity by delivering generic good government and technocratic competence. Given that he’s a Republican, that he has a business background, and that corporate America holds many levers of political power — in practice he’d probably still do lots of bad stuff. But I doubt he’d go the extra mile of badness or force the issue the way Giuliani or McCain almost certainly will. Romney, in short, seems like he’s neither crazy nor a bumbler; just someone whose policy initiatives I’ll probably disagree with. That he also seems like the Republican who’d be easiest to beat in the general election (he really does seem fake, which I think will doom him with swing voters who seem to me to prefer authentically nuts) is icing on the cake — go Mitt!