You know how you can tell that Mitt Romney is a “radical” anti-government extremist? Because he says he believes in freedom. So says E.J. Dionne:
Romney is right in saying he has "a very different vision" from Obama's, and this is where the magic comes in. He envisions "an America driven by freedom, where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans. And because there are so many enterprises that are succeeding, the competition for hardworking, educated, skilled employees is intense, so wages and salaries rise."
Just like that, all would be well -- as if we never needed the trust-busting of the Progressive Era, the social legislation of the New Deal, the health programs of the Great Society, and the coordinated action of the world's governments in 2008 and 2009 to keep the Great Recession from becoming something far worse.
This is Romney's true radicalism. I suspect it is a principled radicalism.
That’s right: Romney is such a devout anti-government radical, so deeply opposed to any kind of large-scale government action, that in his 2010 book, No Apology, he praised the Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP) for having “prevented a systemic collapse of the national financial system.” He's such a zealot that he argued that after President Bush’s $150 billion stimulus program, “another stimulus was called for" and agreed that the $800 billion stimulus President Obama passed in 2009 “will accelerate the timing of the start of the recovery.” Such is the depth of Romney's fanaticism that he went out of his way to pick a fight with GOP primary rival Rick Perry for calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme, and on his own website declares that “the Republican nominee must be someone who is committed to saving Social Security.”
Romney’s radicalism is so "true" and "principled" that as the governor of Massachusetts, he raised business taxes after promising not to, paid for the nation’s first near-universal expansion of health coverage using a special grant of federal Medicaid funds, and developed and signed a health care plan that would serve as the model for ObamaCare. He now consistently knocks the sitting president for being the only president to ever have cut Medicare—which Romney says is “wrong.”
Some might not see this record as particularly radical. But Dionne knows better than journalists who might draw their conclusions from any such evidence:
What Romney has going for him is a journalistic presumption that he is either a closet "moderate" or so opportunistic that he is altogether lacking in a coherent worldview. The first is wrong. The second is unfair to Romney.
So forget all the ways that Romney has acted in favor of and voiced explicit, repeated support for the the social legislation of the New Deal, the health programs of the Great Society, and government action in response to the economic instability of 2008 and 2009. Romney has made some platitudinous remarks in favor of “freedom”—free people, free enterprise, individual pursuit of happiness, competition, and all the rest of that ridiculous “capitalist magic.” And anyone who claims to believe in any of that nonsense must truly be a radical at heart.