Rightward, Ho!

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This is one of several reasons why the 2012 GOP primary process is going to be really entertaining. Mitt Romney had a dignity crushing series of losses in 2008. I’ve heard it suggested, plausibly, that the GOP’s change away from winner-take-all primaries could help him in 2012. But I still think the nature of his loss in 2008 does not bode well for him in 2012.

In any case, there are two more big liabilities on his ledger: 1st, he changes his ideology about every cycle and his actual policies predilections seem much more moderate than what flies in today’s GOP. In other words, it’s hard for him to shake the perception that he’s a weather vane who doesn’t have any real political principles. 2nd, and more devastating, the terror of ‘Obamacare’ is based on the legislation Mitt pushed through in Massachusetts. It’s his signature piece of legislation. And going into 2012, that’s a big, big problem.

To overcome those liabilities, Mitt has to do everything in his power to avoid a scenario in which he’s the ‘moderate guy’ in the 2012 primary season against some other person who ends up as the Tea Party / hard right standard bearer, whether that’s Palin or maybe Huckabee or whoever else. And so you have him at every point needing to stake out the most hard right position available — in this case, proposing that we get rid of our system of unemployment insurance since, in his telling, unemployment insurance promotes laziness.

All that said, while I’d bet against Romney beating President Obama in 2012, he’s probably the only one of the current crop who even stands a serious chance.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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