Through all his transformations since 1994 ... Romney has seemed more a politician who would do whatever it took to close a deal than a leader driven by conviction and commitment.
There's an excellent reason for this. Romney is a politician who will do whatever it takes.
That accusation, in politics, is usually a trope, a cliche, just more garden-variety spin. But in Mitt Romney's politics, it's the man himself--from his strained cadences of hemorrhaging insincerity to his thespian incredulity at the horrors of Obamaism to his imitation indignation at the latter's politics of "division and anger and hate."
Mitt Romney performing on the stump is like an animatronics designer's monstrous idea of a three-way cross between P.T. Barnum, Joseph Goebbels and Eddie Haskell. To watch it is sort of amusing, but simultaneously "disconcerting" and just downright sickening. Mostly sickening. And what sickens most is that Gov. Romney & Friends have brought American politics to its most squalid depths since ... oh hell, this may be unprecedented.
I'm sure Mr. Dionne would prefer to discuss the various reform angles of some major policy issue, or perhaps philosophically explore the fundamental tensions and agreements of Burkean conservatism and Rooseveltian liberalism. I know I would.
But we can no longer get there; we can only retaliate, a la Chris Matthews.
Several readers alerted me to this morning's Matthews-Priebus showdown, which I have since watched. I imagine MSNBC's staff is still mopping up Priebus' blood. Matthews' sustained, five-minute assault was a ferociously righteous crusade that would have once been labeled "shrill," but is now deemed only necessary.
There will be more of it, much more, and from many others. Why? Because it's increasingly clear that Mitt Romney & Friends are but demagogic thugs who are indeed willing to do whatever it takes to win. But we've seen the newsreels. It can't, and won't, happen here.