Ross Douthat's sensible, and thus unusable, advice to the Romney campaign betrays the daily tightening of the latter's right-wing straitjacket.
An optimistic, essentially pragmatic, Reagan-channeling Mitt Romney is strongly recommended by Douthat, which would be a capital recommendation indeed, if only Mitt Romney weren't so invested in a gloomy, profoundly ideological, Limbaugh-channeling campaign. It's not that Romney happily prefers gloom over optimism, and so on; it's that he necessarily prefers it.
Hence when Douthat urges, for instance, that Romney "[supplement] his critiques of the Obama White House’s crony capitalism with an acknowledgment of the financial sector’s sins as well," one wonders where Douthat has been. Putting aside Romney's Palinesque assault on Obama's "crony capitalism," has it really escaped Douthat's notice that Wall Street's Lords of Creation simply do not tolerate even the mildest and most legitimate of criticisms any longer? Romney's toadyism to the financial sector isn't just a matter of the campaign's profitability. It's obligatory cowardice.
Or, suggests Douthat, Romney should "[supplement] his promise to repeal the Democratic health care legislation with a vision of what might actually replace it." The far right wants nothing to replace it. That's the whole point of Romney's currently modified version of RomneyCarelessness. Any and all progress along healthcare or any other lines is to be ruthlessly dynamited.
Or, writes Douthat, Romney "might ... [suggest] that this election will come down to 'jobs and kids,' and offering more to struggling middle class parents than just a tax cut on their (meager) capital gains."
Oh dear. Mission control, we've lost Ross, who appears oblivious to Romney's thundering theme of offering nothing on jobs or to kids or to middle-class parents--because in nothingness there blooms the nihilistic horror of Social Darwinism; which, to the far right, to whom Mitt is violently beholden, is far superior to the communitarian ethic of either Judeo-Christianism or authentic conservatism.
In short, Romney is in a box, a straitjacket, a bottomless bunghole of brownnosing in which his ideological overseers demand yet more immersion.