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Posted by on Feb 11, 2012 in Politics | 6 comments

Quote of the Day: Romney’s “Severely Conservative” Self-Label Raises New Doubts

Did former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney just put his food in what seems to be his most accustomed spot again when trying to convince conservatives he’s one of them at the big conservative gathering in Washington, D.C.? It certainly seems so. Our political Quote of the Day typifies the raised eyebrows a particular quote of Romney’s has generated among many movement conservatives. It comes from Red State’s Eric Erickson:

Mitt Romney got a warm reception at CPAC, standing ovations . . . the works. He did nothing to calm fears that he is not one of us. In fact, he might have made it worse today.

And — once again — Romney’s self-created eye-brow raiser came when he went off script and ad libbed. And, to be sure, the ability to be able to talk off script without inserting your foot into your mouth or stepping in it is somewhat helpful to a major party’s presidential candidate. Romney — who peppered his remarks with the word conservative two dozen times, by one count — said at one point he was “severely conservative” as governor. Erickson writes:

A severe conservative? It sounds more like a critique of conservatives from the left than that of a conservative himself. In fact, if you want to read only one thing on Mitt Romney’s views of conservatives, I actually think Chris Orr of The New Republic captures the situation best.

Orr writes on Quentin Tarantion’s view of Superman as discussed in the movie Kill Bill 2.

Superman was born Superman. It’s Clark Kent that is the invented alias, the pose, the “costume.” And in the way Superman plays Kent–weak, self-doubting, cowardly–we see his critique of the human race.

It occurred to me that the same is true of Romney’s desperate, if never terribly persuasive, impersonation of a conservative Republican. That persona–angry, simple-minded, xenophobic, jingoistic–is exactly what Romney (who is himself cultured, content, and cosmopolitan) imagines the average GOP voter to be.

I think that is perhaps one of the most accurate reads on Romney today and why so many of us think he is not what he claims to be.

Erickson is correct. “Severely conservative?” Who’d ever use an awkward construction like that (that reminds me: I have two write a batch of severely moderate posts on TMV this weekend.)

I do think Erickson is onto something.

I watching the Romney speech, it almost seems as if between his use of the word “severely” and use of the word “conservative” so many times that he seemed like he was auditioning for a hypnosis act in Las Vegas he was saying this:

Hey, guys, I’m really a conservative! I’m really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really REALLY a conservative. And, also, there’s this: I’m really a conservative!!

And, remember, unlike Erickson and many conservatives I LIKED the older more moderate incarnation of Mitt Romney (I’m gravely moderate).Also: on the Massachusetts ideological scale, Romney as governor was a center-right figure sort of like Chris Christie in New Jersey — not a Scott Walker (Tea Partyish) or like the early Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (20th century style moderate Republican) I’m one of those folks who at one time was a Republican and like moderate Republicans and even thoughtful conservatives who don’t seem to be trying to do Rush Limbaugh imitations. I’m also someone who feels Mitt Romney has a lot of good, solid, qualities and might actually do well in the White House.

But I had the same reaction to his speech as Erickson.

Listening to Romney, I realized this might be a good theme song for his campaign, with a few lyric changes: