Yes, Romney will come into the general election with a very unenthusiastic base, but let’s not forget that so will Obama. That’s why some liberals, having grown as leery of the morality of Big Government as libertarians, are now openly flirting with support for Ron Paul, even though he is opposed heart and soul to their central belief: using government to promote social equity. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, in a powerful broadside this week, observed that progressives are flirting with Paul for the simple reason that Obama “has done heinous things with the power he has been vested,” including waging covert wars with both Islamist extremists and with Iran. Greenwald accused progressives of not conducting an honest debate with themselves in which they admit the real trade-offs of this Democratic administration: We’ll accept unchecked executive power in which Muslim children are killed as collateral damage in drone strikes and bankers are secretly bailed out, as long as we can have fewer cuts to entitlements and a more progressive Supreme Court. Said Greenwald: “It is the classic lesser-of-two-evils rationale, the key being that it explicitly recognizes that both sides are ‘evil’: meaning it is not a Good versus Evil contest but a More Evil versus Less Evil contest.”

And this, inevitably, will be what the general election will be about as well. It will be less about conservatism versus liberalism than about least-worstism. Fueled by super PAC money—the one true imponderable of this election—the campaign between Obama and Romney will be savage, but it’s not likely to be a campaign over high principle, or what Romney calls the “soul” of America…

Romney, increasingly desperate to win over his base against the onslaught of “Not-Romneys,” has allowed his rhetoric to grow more inflamed on the trail, including commitments to a balanced-budget amendment and partially voucherizing Medicare as well as eliminating Obamacare. But based on his history, if he gets the nomination he is unlikely to follow through fully on these overheated pre-primary pledges and do many things dramatically differently, either on the economy or foreign policy. The problems of slow growth, chronic deficits and an overextended military will inevitably lend themselves to similar solutions from either an Obama or a Romney administration.