How Romney’s Hypocrisy Helps Him

Via Andrew Sullivan, Jon Stewart’s take-down of multiple-choice Mitt is as good a short summary of the GOP’s front-running chameleon. But I can’t help but think that Romney’s transparent hypocrisy would help him in a general election campaign. Democrats should avoid making it the center of their 2012 anti-Romney strategy.

First, it would detract from any substantive attack on the GOP agenda: attack on his lack of core beliefs would obscure the fact that we elect parties, not individuals, and a Romey Administration will essentially enshrine the Tea Party in the executive branch.

Second, voters think that all politicians are hypocrites: the question is which hypocrite they want. So attacks on Romney’s lack of sincerity won’t do much damage anyway.

Third, and perhaps most important, when it comes to the wingnut Republican base, Romney’s whole general election strategy will be one huge wink: don’t worry, guys, you know I’ve got to say this, but I don’t really believe it. Attacking Romney for hypocrisy thus will this reinforce his attempt to move to the center.

At the end of the day, a President Romney will essentially be George W. Bush redux. Hypocrisy doesn’t enter into it. If you loved what George W. Bush did to the country, you’ll adore the Romney Administration. That’s the message, which will not only be politically more effective in my view, but does carry the additional merit of being true.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff is a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles.