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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Santorum agonistes

That sound you hear is the Mitt Romney campaign shaking that Etch a Sketch.

With Rick Santorum's decision to suspend his campaignRomney's endless quest for the Republican presidential nomination has reached the finish line. Romney must now begin what Eric Fehrnstrom indelicately labeled a "reset" of what have already proven to be malleable positions over the course of Romney's political career.

Our Man Myth's slog to Tampa leaves him in the public mind as a less-than-likable member of the 1 percent (complete with an elevator for the cars at his vacation mansion) atop a party that has sought to turn the clock back decades on women's rights while touting policy positions that favor Romney's fellow 1 percenters.

But there is a clear risk in Romney sliding back toward the center to try to repair damage to his brand among the moderate Americans who will decide the election. The conservatives who hitched their wagons to Santorum -- who preferred going back not just decades but centuries -- are still not much in like, let alone love with Romney.

Any move to the middle to appease the center will simply be viewed as a betrayal by the hard right, another reason to sit things out come November and reaffirm their burning hatred of Barack Obama.

It should be noted that Romney's attacks on Obama rather than his erstwhile opponents, haven't done him a lot of good to date among the hard core. Whether stepping up a stream of invective -- often far removed from reality -- will gladden the hearts of either conservatives or moderates remain to be seen.

But Romney should be congratulated for finally achieving the goal he shoved aside Jane Swift to take the Corner Office, only to quit in mind if not body two years later to start his presidential run.

Sometimes naked political ambition is rewarded.

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