Romney also makes a sober assessment of our immediate and long-term economic problems. Unfortunately, his well-expressed concern with long-term national deficits, and insistence that politicians take on the unpopular task of seriously addressing them, is undermined by proscriptions throughout the book for dramatically lower taxes and significantly increased spending (particularly on the military, which he wants to maintain at four percent of GDP — at a cost of roughly a half-trillion dollars over 10 years).

Indeed, there is much in this book that doesn't quite add up. But at least Romney's not insisting that all problems can be wiped away through "Commonsense," as Palin does; and he doesn't set the basis of his book, and his political philosophy, on the tale of the gingerbread man, as DeMint does. (Please don't ask me to explain; just take my word that the analogy is more bizarre and inapt than you could possibly imagine.) That may seem like a low hurdle, but easily clearing it might just make him the most-qualified candidate in the GOP field.

Conservative heresy
It might not, however, get him the votes of the movement conservatives, Tea Party activists, Limbaugh/Beck/Hannity acolytes, and birthers who currently dominate Republican politics.

Romney had better hope that his muscular economic- and foreign-policy talk (flawed though it is) is enough to win their support, because he's got a whole slew of ideas in No Apology that they would find heretical, which are guaranteed to get thrown back at him on the trail, if he runs. Among them:

- "Climate change is occurring," and is caused at least in part by human activity. "Global warming is a real and present danger."

- The 2008 TARP bank bailout was necessary and "did in fact keep our economy from total meltdown."

- Some Republicans "are overly fond of bashing regulation," but in fact government regulation of business — "stringent standards that are rapidly, efficiently, and consistently applied" — are necessary and beneficial.

- The financial meltdown was not merely the fault of Democrats and poor people, but was also due to an "absence of dynamic regulation," and errors and bad judgment by Wall Street executives, credit-rating agencies, Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve, average Americans who became real-estate speculators, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and even George W. Bush.

- A stimulus package "was called for" after the late-2008 economic downturn, and the Democrats' stimulus "will accelerate the timing of the start of the recovery."

- Privatizing Social Security would be a mistake; any creation of individual accounts should be voluntary, and in addition to Social Security.

- The "Fair Tax" would save money for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class, and is therefore "not an outcome that will or should gain traction with the American people."

These days, this kind of reality-based thinking doesn't go over well in conservative circles. Perhaps Romney can change that, but I'll believe it when I see No Apology pass Going Rogue's sales figures.

David S. Bernstein can be reached at dbernstein@phx.com.

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