This episode perfectly illustrates the problem with the lifelong liberal Mitt Romney, coming from a liberal heritage going back to his father, now stepping forward to lead Republicans against the Marxist infiltrator Barack Obama. Inevitably, Romney will pull the Republican Party to the left and crack up the Reagan coalition which has dominated the party since 1980.

And it’s not just the Republican Party, but the conservative movement as well, as we see when a formerly firebreathing leader like Ann Coulter caves in an unquestioning fashion to Romney’s embrace of the individual mandate. Conservative leaders were uniformly appalled by the Heritage health plan and its mandate rolling downhill to socialized medicine. Coulter cites it as a reason to support Mitt Romney.

Last week came further troubling confirmation of the rapidly developing disaster. As soon as Romney got himself in trouble due to his unfamiliarity with conservative doctrine on welfare policy and the poor, he suddenly veered left to bail himself out. He is now to the left of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi on the minimum wage, endorsing an automatic increase that even Obama and an overwhelming Democrat Congress didn’t support. Somebody buy the man a Charles Murray anthology, and a compilation of Jack Kemp’s speeches…

Everything about Romney screams “Country Club Republican.” This is not a man who will inspire the conservative grassroots to come out in maximum force, carrying Republicans with him to victory in the Senate, as Reagan — and later Gingrich — did. Instead, Romney is the perfect foil and caricature for Obama’s political strategy this year, a perfect example of the problem, according to Obama’s narrative. Perhaps Ann is spooked by the need to liberate the country from Obama’s Marxists, thinking we must embrace the safest, most electable candidate. But that prevent-defense thinking is a prescription for failure, if not disaster, if Romney is elected and turns out to govern as a Massachusetts liberal after all.

Tea Party Republicans are not going to sit still for another round of George H.W. Bush, which is what Romney is offering us. They will bolt, resulting in the breakup of the Republican party. That is the fire we are playing with in Mitt Romney.