NO APOLOGIES, BUT PLENTY OF EDITS…. No one should want to be president this badly. (via Taegan Goddard)

When Mitt Romney’s second book, No Apology, came out a year ago, it looked like he was moving away from the far-right demagoguery of his 2008 bid for the presidency, and toward a more moderate centrism for the 2012 election cycle.

But times change, and so does Mitt. A year later, with the Tea Party-fueled extremism of the 2010 midterms foretelling a rightward tilt to the GOP presidential primaries, Romney is tacking back — as evidenced by changes made to two sections of the text in the new paperback edition of No Apology.

Now, mocking Romney for shedding his skins and radically transforming himself into a whole new person is pretty easy. The guy, lacking in any kind of core principles or fundamental beliefs, has a Kafka-like appreciation for metamorphoses.

But it’s worth doing anyway since Romney stands a chance at actually becoming president of the United States next year.

The touch-ups to his book are the latest shameless attempt to quietly re-write history. In the hardcover version, “No Apology” offered tempered praise for the Recovery Act, noting that the stimulus would “accelerate the timing of the start of the recovery.” Romney was right, but he can’t say so because the base doesn’t care for this reality. The paperback, then, calls the economy-saving stimulus a “failure” and describes the effort as “the first time government has declared war on free enterprise.”

It’s implausible that Romney actually believes this nonsense, but the man will say and/or do anything to get elected.

The former one-term governor also seems a little defensive about his state-based health care law, which shares a striking resemblance to the Affordable Care Act. The new paperback version of his book goes to great lengths to show how much Romney, ever the opportunist, hates the law that looks like his own policy, since apparently the hardcover was insufficiently irate.

To state the obvious, Romney knows how hysterical the Republican base has become, and realizes a failure to pander to extremists will prevent him from getting the Republican nomination.

Romney certainly appears to be targeting those voters in the paperback’s new introduction, in which he bemoans the “elite” liberals’ destruction of everything the Founding Fathers stood for — especially “freedom,” a word that appears 25 times in the introduction. “Constitution” shows up 11 times. The Tea Party gets mentioned by name, as does the Glenn Beck-promoted 9/12 movement — even Joe the Plumber gets a shout-out.

I wonder sometimes if Romney even cares about feeling a sense of pride. All things considered, I really doubt it.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.