I guess that because Mitt had failed to move to the center as expected, we thought it was never going to happen, and it was such a shock when it finally did at the first debate. Typically, it happens slowly and gingerly, an issue at a time, so it’s jolting to hear it come in one uninterrupted, 90-minute whoosh.
We expected the pivot after he clinched the nomination, we expected it after his convention. Each time he tried, as in saying positive things about Romneycare, the base came down hard on him and he had to scurry back. Because they don’t trust him, it seemed as if he would spend the entire campaign playing to them, as if the primaries were still going on, and never make that general election pivot to the middle.
The pre-debate polls are why we’re not hearing a peep out of the base now. They finally got it that if they didn’t cut Mitt some slack, he would lose. So he got his pass from the crazies to unveil his Moderate Mitt routine at the debate, really the last possible moment, and lie his ass off. The base saw the Ryan pick come and go, they saw the convention come and go, and all that was left were the debates.
But everyone needs to remember that it’s just a pass between now and November 6. He can sound as reasonable and moderate as he wants for the next month, but he’ll have to govern hard right.
Whatever Mitt’s own preferences, he’ll govern out of pure fear — fear of a primary challenge from his right in 2016. The post-2010, Tea Party GOP owns him.