Tim Carney reflects on the dreadful inevitability of Romney:

This leaves Republicans with the unthinkable: Romney, who ran to the left of Ted Kennedy in 1994 and who could have been Obama’s health policy director, is now the most likely man to carry the GOP nomination in 2012.

Carney’s analysis is sound. My only objection is the description of this outcome as unthinkable. Undesirable? Certainly. Intolerable? Absolutely. One thing that it isn’t is unthinkable. A Romney nomination is the outcome that many movement conservatives openly preferred four years ago, and it was mostly the unexpected and (to party elites) unwelcome spoiler role of Huckabee that kept it from happening. Opposition to McCain was understandable and laudable, but in the drive to find someone to thwart McCain many movement conservatives embraced someone who had zero credibility as the viable conservative alternative. Because of this mistake, they invested Romney with legitimacy and credibility among Republican voters that he could never have had otherwise. As fashionable as it is to throw inconvenient policy positions down the memory hole, it is harder to persuade most voters that the candidate who was acceptable enough to the movement yesterday must be rejected tomorrow. It ought to be unthinkable that Romney can win the nomination, but it’s very likely what is going to happen. Consider it another one of the terrible legacies of the Bush era.