Buzz Bissinger, a life long Democrat, has decided to publicly explain why he’s supporting Romney this year (h/t Mollie Hemingway ).

He says that the president’s poor debate performance, as well as some nagging doubts about the efficacy of his policies past and proposed, have led him to the conclusion that he can’t support Obama for another four years.

Contrary to what Pete says, Bissinger is impressed by what he sees as Romney’s “move to the center.” He says, “I believe he will send to the political Guantanamo those dirty old white men of the party ready to bomb Iran (speaking of wars, are we out of Afghanistan yet, despite our so-called allies killing our soldiers? See Obama policy).”

I wonder what he will think after he hears Romney’s foreign policy address today. The address will emphasize American leadership—something Bissinger thinks has been sorely lacking the last couple of years. But will it constitute the suspended habeas corpus imprisonment of those “dirty old white men?” I “severely” doubt it, as Romney attempts to hold onto his conservative foreign policy bona fides as an alternative to the president. In his address, Romney is expected to say, “I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf the region—and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination.  For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions—not just words—that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.” For Bissinger’s sake (and our own), let’s just hope that Romney’s general foreign policy statement avoids the undue abstraction of insignificant speech .

What Pete says makes sense to me—Romney is proposing conservative policy that points toward the general public, and hence it does not come across as ideological or partisan as in fact it is. I suppose that when Bissinger admits to turning more conservative as he ages, he is more there than he readily acknowledges. He even agrees with the general facts of Romney’s take on the 47%.

So, while I welcome Bissinger’s endorsement, I’m still open to the idea that Romney’s pivot is not an etch-a-sketch shake to a muddled moderation all done in an attempt to slap down the conservatives in the party. Ross Douthat claims that Romney can’t win by alienating his conservative base, but he also claims that the meaning of conservatism is up for grabs, and that Romney might be able to claim the mantle of leadership.

Douthat says, “One debate does not such a leader make. But at the very least, the fact that Romney’s strategy worked so effectively last Wednesday — that it made him seem mainstream and appealing while also winning him plaudits from almost every sort of conservative — suggests that the Republican Party can actually be led, and that its politicians don’t have to be prisoners of talking points and groupthink.”

So if conservatism is up or grabs, can Romney’s Republican party still be conservative? And if so, in what sense? Surely it must remain conservative, and “postparticonism” does not sound like a good idea. It fools itself regarding the ultimate partisan nature of politics, and besides it’s still conservative.

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Articles by John Presnall

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