Is Romney the next Kerry?

Mitt Romney was more likable as a liberal. That, at least, was my conclusion after watching a devastating video put together by the Democratic Party’s best (and maybe only) strategist: comedian Jon Stewart. Before my eyes was an early Rombot model, circa 1994, that we’ve not seen since: emotional, passionate, lively. He sneered derisively at the “Reagan-Bush” years, bragged about being a political independent, and indignantly defended his “consistent” support of abortion rights. Romney was so proud of his pro-choice pedigree that he even tweaked his Senate opponent, Democrat Ted Kennedy, for equivocation. A few years later, when he ran for governor and was asked about support he’d received from a pro-life organization, he squirmed more uncomfortably than if he’d been forced to watch a marathon of “Mike and Molly.”

That, of course, is not the Mitt Romney running for president today. In fact the Republican’s encyclopedia-sized list of policy reversals makes 2004’s whipping boy, John “I voted for it before I voted against it” Kerry, look like an exemplar of political consistency. All of which raises a haunting question for the GOP as the clock ticks down to the Iowa caucuses: in a party whose potential nominees include Gary Johnson and Ron Paul, could the GOP’s “safe” choice actually be its most reckless gamble?…

Though Romney’s curious political conversion was well known to political operatives during his previous run for the White House, it was never fully examined. That’s because he was fortunate in his political opponents: his main rival, John McCain, was a notorious flip-flopper, and nobody ever paid much attention to anything Mike Huckabee said. This time, Romney won’t be so lucky. Already, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is reminding voters of Romney’s former Massachusetts-friendly views on the environment. And if Romney is the GOP nominee, the Obama campaign would be even more hapless than it already is expected to be if it doesn’t turn to the same strategy.