John Chait at The New Republic has an interesting post about Mitt Romney and his prospects in 2012.

In many ways Romney is the front-runner right now because it seems rather unclear as to who-else will be runnng. Palin and Huckabee are likely in the mix, but both are hard to take to seriously as contenders for the nomination. This is not to say that they will not be a factor in the 2012 race. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota is likely in the running, but him and Romney are very similar.

This part of Chait’s post stands out to me:

Romney is a useful marker in the frightening right-wing turn of his party. The GOP has been moving rightward for the last thirty years, but that shift has dramatically accelerated just since the fall of 2008. After Obama won the presidency, Republican officeholders and conservative pundits decided almost-unanimously was that the party’s failure had stemmed from being too moderate.

The sudden ideological isolation of Romney is a case in point. During the 2008 GOP primary battle, he took a lot of heat for his former socially liberal positions. But his health care plan in Massachusetts attracted very little controversy. It was a classic moderate Republican plan, and one could very easily imagine Romney implementing something like it — which is to say, something resembling the Obama plan — had he won the presidency. Now it’s seen as socialism, if not the end of American freedom. Likewise, the Bush administration and most Republicans favored TARP, but it, too, is now widely seen among Republicans as some dystopian attack on free enterprise ripped straight out of an Ayn Rand novel.

So what will keep Romney from getting the nomination? He is a pragmatic conservative who has shown that he can govern. This is not likely to fly during a time (at least within the GOP) of extreme anti-government sentiment. While I am no fan of the GOP, I hope that the likes of Romney can prevail over the Perrys and Palins. Not for the GOPs sake, but for the country.

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