In his political love life, Ross Douthat yearns for a little excitement, a few fireworks--a bit of real passion, something perhaps less than Byronic but more than the phonebook. Douthat's trying, he's really trying, to love the one he's with, I'll give him credit for that, but his man keeps dozing on the sofa by dusk:
[L]ately the Romney campaign seems to have decided that they can win this election without taking any substantial risks at all...; his general-election campaign seems carefully constructed to be as cautious and boring and even attention-repelling as possible...; the riskiest move the presumptive Republican nominee has made in the last two months was his decision to attend a fund-raiser with Donald Trump.
Douthat seems surprised, and for the life of me I can't understand why. In Romney's robotic ways he represents the McDonaldization of American politics: you can have that tasteless, artery-clogging gob of processed animal flesh and perfect(ly) white bread with mustard or without, with onions or without, with pickles or without; but however you have it, it'll be bland, because it's meant to be tasteless, because some tastes offend.
Douthat urges behavior modification:
[S]ometimes the best way to win a bloc of voters is to actually try to win them. In this case, that would probably mean offering a policy agenda more attuned to the ways in which recent Republican economic policy hasn’t always delivered for middle-income voters – a health care agenda that promises more to the uninsured, say, or a tax agenda that’s more family-friendly than the current Romney proposals.
In other words, Douthat suggests that at the eleventh hour the Republican presidential candidate woo him and others with wholly non-Republican policies. Douthat's gentle, euphemistic counseling and attempt at "meaningful" communication is hilarious: Dear Mitt, please scuttle, if you wouldn't mind, "recent Republican economic policy [which] hasn’t always delivered for middle-income voters"--yes, a gut-wrenching, retirement-demolishing, home-foreclosing, job-obliterating great depression is generally deemed short in the middle-class, happiness-delivery department--and "a health care agenda that promises more to the uninsured" is love's way of saying either an individual mandate or single-payer.
But I'm going to defend Mitt here. He should, with no little manly justification, just tell Ross: "You knew who I was, you knew what I was, before we got engaged. So don't try to change me now."