In May, in corn-growing Iowa, Romney said, "I support" — present tense — "the subsidy of ethanol." And: "I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution for this country." But in October he told Iowans he is "a business guy," so as president he would review this bipartisan — the last Republican president was an ethanol enthusiast — folly. Romney said that he once favored (past tense) subsidies to get the ethanol industry "on its feet." (In the 19th century, Republican "business guys" justified high tariffs for protecting "infant industries"). But Romney added, "I've indicated I didn't think the subsidy had to go on forever." Ethanol subsidies expire in December, but "I might have looked at more of a decline over time" because of "the importance of ethanol as a domestic fuel." Besides, "ethanol is part of national security." However, "I don't want to say" I will propose new subsidies. Still, ethanol has "become an important source of amplifying our energy capacity." Anyway, ethanol should "continue to have prospects of growing its share of" transportation fuels. Got it?
Every day, 10,000 baby boomers become eligible for Social Security and Medicare, from which they will receive, on average, $1 million of benefits ($550,000 from the former, $450,000 from the latter). Who expects difficult reforms from Romney, whose twists on ethanol make a policy pretzel?
A straddle is not a political philosophy; it is what you do when you do not have one. It is what Romney did when he said that using Troubled Assets Relief Program funds for the General Motors and Chrysler bailouts "was the wrong source for that funding." Oh, so the source was the bailouts' defect. [...]
Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for this?
Let's just consider what Will has had to say about the other candidates on the right this year. In May, he said that Newt Gingrich just wasn't a serious candidate. He called Michele Bachmann a marginal candidate who was not among the serious contenders. He's criticized Rick Perry as part of an overall indictment of what he views as the GOP's mistaken reliance on Electoral Votes from the South. And, just two weeks, ago he dismissed Herman Cain as a candidate running a serious campaign. He hasn't said much about candidates like Santorum, Paul, Johnson, or Hunstman, but then none of them has a realistic shot at the nomination. In reality, despite what he says about Romney, it's hard to see someone like Will being all that enthusiastic about any of those candidates. One is reminded, in fact, of one of Will's This Week appearances when he said that the person taking the Oath of Office in 2013 would be Obama, Romney Mitch Daniels, or Tim Pawlenty. Well, Pawlenty dropped out, Daniels didn't run, and Obama is clearly unacceptable to the right. That leaves Mitt Romney. Will's point seems to be, well if you don't like him, who exactly are you going to nominate instead of him? The conclusion seems to be that if conservatives are dismayed at [a] world where Mitt Romney is the most viable Republican candidate for President, and he is, then they have nobody to blame but themselves.
Emphases in the original.
It might well be wishful thinking at play, but I'm not so sure either that Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has no "realistic shot at the nomination," or that Will wouldn't locate some enthusiasm for Paul if he got closer. The "shot," while long, would work like this–the other Anyone But Mitts duly fall by the wayside, leaving a two-man race between a flip-flopping big government Ken doll and the only non-Gary Johnson running who has a government-cutting program appropriate to both the crisis at hand and the mood of the Tea Party right. It's been an unusually volatile political season; we'll see.