HERE COMES THAT AWFUL FEELING AGAIN
Steve Benen and Jonathan Chait are flagging an excerpt from Mitt Romney's new stump speech (Chait calls it "Glenn Beck-level insane"):
Just a couple of weeks ago in Kansas, President Obama lectured us about Teddy Roosevelt's philosophy of government. But he failed to mention the important difference between Teddy Roosevelt and Barack Obama. Roosevelt believed that government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities. President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes.
In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing -- the government....
Add this moderate-liberalism-equals-socialism crap to the Birtherism Lite of Romney foreign-policy attacks on Obama -- frankly, I don't care whether he said "keep America American" or "keep America America," he's still accusing Obama of not being loyal to his country -- and we've got ... well, what have we got?
In all likelihood, we've got 2000 all over again. Romney now, like Bush then, hasn't always spoken like a flaming wingnut throughout his political career (and didn't behave like one in the governor's office) -- which means that Romney now, like Bush then, is going to be called a "moderate" during the general election campaign no matter what he says in his speeches. Romney's Massachusetts past, like Bush's cooperation with Texas Democrats and prattle about "compassionate conservatism," is going to give him carte blanche to say anything without the mainstream press grasping the fact that if he's talking wingnut, it means he intends to govern as a wingnut.
Some beat reporter from 2000 -- I think it was Adam Clymer -- said after Bush took office that his right-wing leanings were obvious all through the campaign if you just bothered to read his policy proposals and listen to him on the stump. This stuff was hiding in plain sight. Everyone just ignored it. And they're probably going to ignore it again.
Kevin Drum asks:
But what about the general election? Independents aren't going to go for this stuff. They'll just shake their heads and wonder what the hell he's talking about. So is he going to ditch this stuff completely after he's won the nomination and pretend that he never said it? Or will he keep pressing, literally hoping that if you say anything often enough you can get people to believe it?
Oh, he can keep saying it. The political cost Republicans have paid for calling Obama a commie and an America-hater is precisely zero: "socialist" is simply this decade's synonym for "liberal" said with a sneer, and all that Kenyan/Muslim/anti-colonial/bows-to-world-leaders stuff is the new "hippie peacenik appeaser." Romney's "nice" version of it will be to preface it by calling Obama a "nice man." That confers blanket immunity.
(X-posted at Balloon Juice.).