Romney's new character: Macho man

In his new book, Mitt makes himself over as a muscular defender of America
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  February 10, 2010

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Few things are more predictable than a GOP presidential candidate posturing as a he-man protector of America, and depicting his Democratic counterpart as an effete, appeasing girlie-man on the dangerous world stage. Mitt Romney — who himself has no personal military or foreign-policy experience of any kind — may not seem well-suited to the Republican role, but hey, if draft-dodgers like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney could use the formula against a genuine war hero, anything is possible.

Romney, presumably warming up for 2012, flexes his hawkish muscles in No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, which is due for release in early March from St. Martin's Press. He will promote the book not with the giggly, mall-atmosphere spectacle of Sarah Palin's recent tour in support of Going Rogue, but with a series of lectures and speeches (with some book signings mixed in). He is establishing himself as the Serious One, the grown-up in the 2012 field.

And in fact, No Apology is a serious, grown-up book; especially when compared to Palin's 2009 tome, or prospective presidential candidate Jim DeMint's, let alone bestsellers like Glenn Beck's and Mark Levin's.

The ranting right-winger Romney we saw through much of the 2008 campaign is largely absent from this book. He makes only brief mention of abortion or homosexuals, or even the illegal-immigration issue with which he hammered John McCain. The momentary populist spasm that led him to vow to save every Michigan auto worker's job has been shunned; so has the weird enthusiasm for torture. (However, he carefully avoids explicitly acknowledging any change in his positions; he's got enough of a flip-flopper reputation already.)

And, unlike most of his prominent Republican contemporaries, Romney doesn't once call anyone a socialist in this book. He barely even has a bad word for the media.

Instead, Romney presents a somewhat reasonable, though certainly arguable, political philosophy — that America's military and economic dominance is vital not only to our own future prosperity, but also the world's — and then lays out a fairly serious assessment of how that status is at risk, and what we should do about it.

New and improved Romney: He's more fiscal, less social. And he's got millions. But will GOP voters give a Mitt? By David S. Bernstein.
Not adding up
Romney has a clear-eyed view of the looming threats to American exceptionalism, from Russia, China, and elsewhere. He is convinced (although I'm not sure why) that Barack Obama's open engagement with the world will plunge us from our perch — what with Obama's acknowledgement of American mistakes, his willingness to negotiate with hostile nations, and his elevation of such concerns as "common interest of human beings," and "mutual respect" and "mutual interests" among nations.

Romney claims that this is already responsible for America's "flagging popular appeal" around the globe — and especially among our allies, whom Obama has "turned his back on." In fact, despite his failures and frustrations, Obama has almost single-handedly rescued America's popular reputation abroad, and resuscitated the willingness of others to let us do as we want. A new Gallup poll finds that global approval of American leadership has leapt from 34 percent to 51 percent since 2008 — and, more importantly, that disapproval has plummeted. Approval is particularly high among the US allies whom Romney insists Obama is driving toward our enemies.

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