Several things happened during my break that still merit some comment. I was reminded of one of them by Brooks’ latest column when he wrote:
For immigration skeptics, he [Romney] swung so far right he earned the endorsement of Tom Tancredo.
Viewed as a purely tactical anti-Huckabee and anti-McCain move, I can understand why Tancredo did this, but when I first heard about it I was amazed. Even though I understand why he endorsed Romney, it still strikes me as a bizarre move. Tancredo is obviously identified with opposition to mass immigration, and more than any of the “second tier” candidates made a point of criticising leading candidates for their opportunism on immigration and their conversions “on the road to Des Moines.” No one better embodies the “conversion on the road to Des Moines” than Romney, and no one is less credible in his criticisms of other candidates for their weaknesses on immigration policy. The most ardent opponent of amnesty has now shown his approval of a candidate who represents everything about the marriage of Republicanism and corporate interests that Tancredo rejects. It is a strange and inexplicable endorsement, perhaps even more so than Gilchrist’s endorsement of Huckabee, and could conceivably mean the difference between victory for the huckster or triumph for the fraud on Thursday. Endorsing either Thompson or Paul would have made sense, and could have given Paul a needed boost in early contests. Instead, Romney the venture capitalist gets the backing of the foremost elected restrictionist in the country in yet another bad bargain with the candidate of the GOP establishment. Short of endorsing McCain or Giuliani, nothing could have put Tancredo more out of step with restrictionist voters.
P.S. Incidentally, I also agree with Brooks that Romney’s by-the-book approach to the nomination will, if successful, lead to general election defeat for the Republicans. Weighed down by the war and deeply unpopular across the board, the GOP also has to be able to compete with the Democrats in states where voters view globalisation and free trade with skepticism at best, and Romney adopting the role of a cardboard-cutout “full-spectrum conservative,” when he has no real credibility on at least two of the three “legs” of the “stool” he frequently mentions, is not going to do the trick. The GOP might very well lose no matter which candidate they select, but they will definitely lose with Romney.