Mitt Romney, by contrast, rolled out an original, thoughtful, politically plausible plan to get Medicare spending under control. Despite the fact that his plan borrowed from Democratic ideas on how to reform the program, the Obama campaign vowed to demagogue Romney’s proposal in retiree-rich states like Florida.

Then, Romney did something remarkable. Instead of retreating on Medicare reform, like so many Republican nominees had before him, he doubled down on his proposal by selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate. The morning that Romney announced his pick, I was on MSNBC’s “Up with Chris Hayes” alongside Rachel Maddow. Rachel was gleeful about the political opportunity that Romney had provided Democrats. “Find your nearest old person,” she said, “and ask them: ‘Do you like Medicare? Would you like Medicare to instead be replaced by a coupon and a prayer?”…

Many conservative activists disliked Mitt Romney, describing him as a “Massachusetts moderate” who wouldn’t stick up for their principles. As soon as the election was over, some of these conservatives were at the front of the line, attacking Romney for his supposed fecklessness.