So who won  the special election for the Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat Tuesday? It wasn’t the former nude Cosmopolitan model, (in case you didn’t know) new-Senator elect Scott Brown. It was the  “phantom menance” lurking in the shadows, who’s campaign shaped him and may very well shape the GOP primaries in 2012, former Bay State governor Mitt Romney.

Daily Kos had set up the map of the 2002 Massachusetts governor’s race and as turned out, the race followed almost exactly along the Romney model i.e. win the suburban areas to west, southeast and north of Boston and win them by decisive margins to offset Democrat strongholds in and around Boston and western Massachusetts. Scott Brown also won the Romney way, using a charismatic campaign techniques and attacks upon the Democrat “machine” in the state to attract soft partisan (Not independent. If they were truly independent then the Dems wouldn’t control the entire state) voters to his standard. He was also fortunate to run against the same kind of Democrat candidate: a Michael Dukakis-like, good-government type who holds statewide office but who can’t fire up the party’s liberal base in the state, is looked upon with contempt  by the ethnic pols who run the legislature  and whose personal political skills are so inept that they leave regular voters cold. Substitute Martha Coakley with Scott Harshbarger and Shannon O”Brien and it’s the same thing.

But beyond style and sex appeal (a quality Brown certainly gives sorely-lacking GOP), one gets the impression that Romneyism is a governing ideology all of its own. Just read Sen. Brown’s position on abortion for example from his own website.

“While this decision should ultimately be made by the woman in consultation with her doctor, I believe we need to reduce the number of abortions in America. I believe government has the responsibility to regulate in this area and I support parental consent and notification requirements and I oppose partial birth abortion. I also believe there are people of good will on both sides of the issue and we ought to work together to support and promote adoption as an alternative to abortion.”

Now if that’s not the definition of elastic  I don’t know what is. I can hear Mario Cuomo say almost the very same thing. Glad to see a “conservative” was elected yesterday in Massachusetts.

But perhaps that’s not far off the mark if your definition of “conservative” fits this by Larison:

“Brown’s opposition is also a little bit like the reflexive hostility to any health care legislation among elderly voters on Medicare. For those who already have coverage provided in one way or another through government mandates or subsidies, new federal health care legislation appears to be more of threat than a benefit. This leads me to conclude that Brown espouses conservatism that is simply a defense of the status quo. It is not a conservatism particularly concerned about federalism or decentralization of power, and for those who would like to keep things as they are federalism and decentralization might seem to be dangerous, frightening things. I suppose Brown does exhibit something of an attachment to the interests of his state, which people call narrow-minded provincialism when it gets in their way and which they call localism when it does not affect them.”

Status quo conservatism, that’s sounds exactly what Romneyism really is all about. It’s sounds like the kind of agenda Sen. Brown will more than likely be supporting in D.C. Oh, they’ll talk about change alright, change as in out with the old and in with the relatively new. It’s a good thing the GOP is still in the minority, even after this election, because they can still substitute “no” for any kind of substantive policy (any Democrat who thinks any members of the GOP caucus will come forward with “moderate” health care proposals need to be carted away to lunatic asylums) and get away with it. If they were forced to better define their views they would probably tear themselves apart as they nearly did earlier in the year. But Brown’s win means Romneyism works. Just look at what Dave Weigel had to say in reporting the race:

“The extent of Brown’s promise to make Washington “fair,” as opposed to gridlocked, is hard to discern. When TWI asked him whether he would join filibusters of any of Barack Obama’s nominees currently stalled in the Senate, Brown said “No, no, no,” quickly moving on to shake more hands. But the speed of this campaign, and the slow reaction of Democrats who considered the seat safe until one week ago, has let Brown blur the details.”

Who needs details when you’re the party of “Not-Obama” and “Not-Democrats”? No doubt Mitt Romney is hoping this lasts until November of 2012. With the backing of the institutional GOP (sorry Tim Pawlenty, maybe next time) with his bitter rival Mike Huckbaee being deep sixed by a cop-killer he let get out of jail for free, Romney is the odds on favorite to win the GOP nomination now. Maybe Ron Paul will run and yes there’s Sarah Palin, but when a recent poll shows 56 percent of Republicans don’t want Sarah Plain and Tall to even run for president, it hard to see how even her hardcore Scots-Irish supporters could muster up the support necessary to win the nomination of the whole party nationwide, especially when Romney’s personal bank account and his political apparatus would wipe her out in Western caucus states, presumably her home base, just by ginning up the turnout of Mormon voters like he did in 2008 (and forget about carrying New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois, and the northeast). And because Romney, like Brown, is very good at being all things to all people (like Tupperware plastic) Rightists who gag at the thought of a Palin presidency, would be at his beck and call, just like they were trying to stop John McCain in 2008. And as for the Tea Partiers, well their implosion has already begun and will excellerate as soon as they are forced to choose sides, meaning they can’t stop him even if they wanted to. Besides, if they were willing to sacrifice to support someone who they will be calling a RINO in a few year’s time, why wouldn’t most of them support Romney if it meant the chance to drive Obama out of office?

They say a year is a long time in politics and that’s certainly true. A year ago Obama basked in the glow of his inauguration and I thought was Mitt was through politically. One year later, Obama is struggling and Mitt may very well be his opponent in two years.