Romney is Al Gore. A sample:
...Where Huckabee, like Clinton, responds to the awareness of his own weaknesses with jokes, Romney covers up for his liabilities with stories that don’t pass the laugh test, whether it is varmint-related or whether it concerns one of his serious policy shifts of recent years. Not only has this chameleon act been transparent and insulting to the intelligence of informed voters, but it reflects a basic contempt for the public and reflects a belief that is probably widely shared in the business and political worlds that people can be made to buy anything if it is repackaged and promoted with the properly-tested marketing. Considering our recent political history, this belief may be well-founded, but when the promotion of a candidate reeks of focus groups and consultants a great many voters will look elsewhere (I know this is hardly a novel or remarkable insight), and if there’s one thing that Romney’s chameleon approach tells voters it is that he is afraid to speak his own mind.
There was a time (2000, when I voted (happily!) for Gore) that the idea of a technocratic, wonky executive branch was very appealing to me. Then I came to understand that technocratic wonkery does not, as a general rule, mean 'better government,' and in fact usually means the opposite. Consider Donald Rumsfeld, who was brought in to modernize the Defense Department, and had some quite fascinating, well-articulated views on how to do so. Bureaucratic incentives trump attempts to improve government, most of the time.
Back to Romney: my friend mentioned above tried to convince me that Romney's most recent policy contortions were his last, that having finally staked himself to die-had conservative positions (kind of), there was no way he could back out of them and retain any political effectiveness. I replied that there was nothing in his history to indicate that would be the case, and the dynamics of presidential politics generally indicate the opposite--this is how you end up with No Child Left Behind, Steel Tariffs, Medicare Part D, or (if you're a Democrat) welfare reform and NAFTA. Having as president a man who is known for his--let's say 'flexibility'--on issues of policy doesn't increase the odds. Hopefully, we'll never have to find out if that's true for Romney.