In the Hans Christian Anderson story, the Emperor of Lore appeared before the people wearing what he called his “new clothes.” Everyone around him, the courtiers, the hangers-on, raved about the great leader's new attire, which really consisted of nothing, nothing at all. He was naked except to those who clung to him seeking the benefits which often flow from an emperor, a man who can dispense his patronage to those who bow before him, singing his praises on all occasions.
Think of Mitt Romney. He presents himself in the new clothes of a conservative, a man of the right, a figure who has no faith in government, a hardnosed man of the right who has great fondness for the tea party, great distaste for other countries, who assumes all the trappings of the American angry enemies of the establishment.
Oh yes, that other adornment. He is a man who never - and he wears this coat well - never wanted to serve a life in politics. Oh yes, he ran for the Senate but never really wanted to serve a career there. It helped that he lost that race to Ted Kennedy. Oh yes, he ran for governor and was elected but never intended to run for re-election because that would have made it about him. Mitt Romney isn't one of those politicians who run for office with the idea of serving there. He's just a private citizen, a conservative businessman who, on some occasions, offers himself for public office.
Of course, this is all nonsense. These new clothes he has adorned himself with are not real at all. He's been a moderate governor of Massachusetts who started the individual mandate which President Obama applied to the country as a whole. He is, in fact, a fellow who has been running for office since the early part of the 1990s and, in all probability, has had his eyes on the presidency since, as my colleague Lawrence O'Donnell noted early today, since his father lost the race in 1968.
Well, the emperor's new clothes, which Mitt Romney has been sporting since he began this run for the presidency, were all the fashion in the Republican party right up until yesterday morning, when, in a truly great debate, his rivals suddenly, much like that young boy in the Hans Christian Anderson tale, began to shout "the emperor has no clothes; the emperor has no clothes."
And now Mitt Romney, should he survive and win the Republican nomination, will go into battle against President Obama as starkly naked as any candidate in history. He will have been exposed by those in his own party that know he is neither a true-blue believer in his conservative party's ideology nor the innocent citizen free of ambition who's coming on to save his country. He is a moderate Republican politician who has hoped to get to the presidency by whatever course of ideology and fashion that will get him there.