Review Overview: Mitt Romney Rejects Populism

Tea Partiers may not like his new book

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The reviews are in for Mitt Romney's new book, No Apologies: The Case for American Greatness. Aside from all the policy Romney rolls out as an entree to his potential 2012 White House run, one salient take-away is this: it seems to be that he's not going to try to placate the laissez-faire populists that now hold so much influence in the GOP. It's perhaps an odd thing to take away from Romney's book, since its entire conception centers on America's global standing. But in his domestic policy analysis, reviewers say Romney has brushed aside the pressure Republicans now face to placate Tea Partiers.

The Boston Globe's Sasha Issenberg writes:

The former Massachusetts governor and highly successful businessman says his critique of populist politics applies to both President Obama, who is battling bankers over Wall Street rules, and Republican leaders who have courted the "tea party'' movement by turning their anger on corporate leaders along with government.

Instead of ideological fervor, Romney is working to win over Republican voters and party elites with intellectual sobriety more tightly linked to his career as a management consultant and venture capitalist. If he runs again for president in 2012, he is preparing to do so as a serious policy wonk with a taste for economics and geostrategy but little interest in unnecessarily inflaming the culture wars.

And ABC's Teddy Davis concurs:

On the domestic front, Romney articulates a conservative vision while managing to show a measure of independence from the Hard Right.

Although anti-tax activists typically oppose revenue raisers of any kind, even if they are intended as a replacement for other taxes, Romney's book flirts with the idea of a new tax on gas or carbon ... When it comes to the Wall Street bailout which is loathed by many Tea Party activists, Romney defends Hank Paulson and credits President Bush's former Treasury Secretary with saving the US financial system.

Human Events gives it high marks as a policy layout:

All in all, Romney's book provides a well-organized display of his stand on key issues. His Obama critique is well executed, including commentary on Obama's abandonment of our missile defense program in Poland and the Czech Republic, his repeated apologies for America, his expansion of our debt, and his September 2009 UN address. Romney's intermittent anecdotes with regard to business experiences, hands on encounters as governor, and the trials and tribulations of his own family, add a nice personal touch to his policy and statistical explorations.

For a meatier analysis of the book's foreign-policy/national-security vision, Spencer Ackerman offers a takedown of Romney's vision:

So many things are wrong with Romney's view of an imperiled America that it is difficult to know where to begin. First, the idea that the U.S. is locked in a struggle for global supremacy with "violent jihadists" overlooks the exponential differences in economic resources, military strength, and global appeal between America and an increasingly imperiled band of Waziristan-based acolytes of Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda can attack us; it cannot displace the U.S. as a global leader. It manufactures nothing, trades with no one, and has absolutely nothing to offer anyone except like-minded conspiratorial murderers. In order to disguise these glaring asymmetries, Romney has to use an empty term -- "the jihadists" -- which he cannot rigorously define and with which he means to absorb the vastly different aims and ambitions of rival terrorist groups and separate nations like Iran.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.