I highly recommend Ryan Lizza's dissection of Mitt Romney's campaign in the current issue of The New Yorker. If, after eight years of presidential overstretch, you're looking for a period of calm and a President who might adopt a more restrained view of what he might be able to achieve, might I suggest that a pandering, hyper-competitive management consultant is exactly the sort of obsessive tinkerer you would not want to elect?
Lizza sums up some of what makes Romney frightful in a single delicious paragraph that in a better world would torpedo and sink Romney on its own:
Politicians tend to pander, especially during the primary season. Romney’s chief opponent, Rudy Giuliani, also has a history as a pro-gun-control, pro-gay-rights Republican. But while Giuliani simply downplays his record on those issues, Romney sells himself as a true convert. He not only shifts positions; he often claims to be the most passionate advocate of his new stances. It’s one of the reasons that his metamorphosis from liberal Republican to committed right-winger seems so jarring. In 1994, in his race for the Senate, he didn’t simply argue that he was a defender of gay rights; he claimed to be a stronger advocate than his opponent, Edward Kennedy. Today, he’s not just a faithful conservative but the only Republican candidate who represents “the Republican wing of the Republican Party.” He brings a salesman’s bravado and certainty to issues. At a debate in May, when asked how he would respond to a hypothetical situation involving the interrogation of a terrorist at Guantánamo Bay, he said, “Some people have said we ought to close Guantánamo. My view is that we ought to double Guantánamo.” Elected as a pro-choice governor in 2002—YouTube is flooded with his passionate advocacy of abortion rights—he now presents himself as the most resolute anti-abortion candidate in the Republican field. A Mormon, he sometimes adopts the religious language of Evangelicals when he is addressing conservative Christian groups. To economic conservatives, he pitches himself as the candidate most strongly committed to slashing spending and taxes. (He’s the only major G.O.P. candidate to have signed a formal anti-tax pledge, the sort of move that his spokesman dismissed as “government by gimmickry” in Romney’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign.) To national-security conservatives, he is the most hawkish. (He says often that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of Iran, should be indicted under the Genocide Convention, and his campaign has named the former C.I.A. counterterrorism chief, Cofer Black, the vice-chairman of Blackwater, as an adviser.) But, while giving customers exactly what they want may be normal in the corporate world, it can be costly in politics.
Romney's campaign against Giuliani then, seems to be based upon the slogan Vote for the phony not the loony.