Just when you’re convinced Mitt Romney is nothing but a suit stuffed with cash, you find reasons to like the guy. Here’s a New York Times piece about how conservative pundits are having trouble getting Romney to listen to them.
People like Ann Coulter, Joe Scarborough and Rush Limbaugh are complaining that Romney seems distant when they attempt to school him in the tenets of conservatism — straight-razor conservatism, not the phony kind that embraces nuance and compromise for the sake of solving problems (or, presumably, winning elections). These folks are always mad about something, but just now they’re mad that the Republican candidate who’s still clinging to front-runner status might be a little too reticent about his responsibility to constantly kiss ass and curtsy to the far right.
As Newsmax chieftain Christopher Ruddy put it after a recent meeting with Romney: “There was a lack of interest on his part as to specific recommendations I might have.”
The thing about pundits is, they’re all like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction: They may be crazy, but they’re not gonna be ignored. They’re not the ones in the fight, so they don’t mind staking out indefensible positions. To them, moderation in any sphere is the same thing as cowardice.
And if there’s anything identifiable about Mitt Romney, it’s that he’s a moderate. As he might put it, an extreme moderate. He doesn’t like to throw hand grenades, or toss raw meat to the nincompoops who show up strapped at town meetings. He senses, perhaps wrongly, that he can somehow finesse this. To his credit, I think he still envisions a Republican administration that is not completely in thrall to the Tea Party and the gasbags who lead it from behind.
Which is why Rick Santorum’s sweater vest is still filling up the rearview mirror. Santorum doesn’t mind saying precisely what the pundits want to hear. And he has the advantage of not having to pretend. Never mind that he has no chance against Obama. The pundits will not be ignored.