Give Mitt Romney credit.  It takes a lot to get the eminently reasonable Michael Tomasky to write a lead paragraph like this:

“Until yesterday, I thought of Mitt Romney as a spineless, disingenuous, and supercilious but more or less decently intentioned person who at least wasn’t the race-mongering pyromaniac that some other Republican candidates of my lifetime have been. Then he gave his speech to the NAACP, and now I think of him as a spineless, disingenuous, supercilious, race-mongering pyromaniac who is very poorly intentioned indeed, and woe to us if this man sets foot in the White House as anything but a tourist.”

For this paragraph, and for the column that follows, Tomasky is the latest winner of the Dionne Award, named for Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne and given at the whim of this blog to a “habitually even-tempered and fair-minded commentator for excellence in expressing moral outrage”.

Make no mistake.  Tomasky is as roughly liberal as previous Dionne Award winner Richard Posner is conservative.  And neither man minces words, nor suffers fools gladly.  But both think before they write; both are willing to examine the foibles and shortcomings of their own ideologies; and both resort to incendiary language as a last resort.

Earlier today I had a conversation with someone who thinks Mitt Romney is “a moderate at heart”.  What this campaign continues to reveal is that “at heart”, Mitt Romney will say and do almost anything to please the extremist wing of the Republican Party.  Which means that Tomasky is right when he concludes “woe to us if this man sets foot in the White House as anything but a tourist”.  A President Romney would be no moderate; he’d be the most extreme, and extremely reactionary, president of the United States any of us has known.

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