Last week I tried to uphold the thesis that establishment Republicans still have enough sway within the party to keep it from it being held hostage by doctrinaire conservatives in its base and its congressional caucus. If the party establishment is as ideologically flexible and as powerful as I suppose, it will deliver the Republican nomination to a candidate with the pragmatic fortitude to separate himself from the wackier preoccupations of the Tea Partiers. The idea, lately affirmed by Rick Santorum, that climate science is a political confidence game, is exactly the sort of thing I have in mind.
It looks like Mitt Romney is betting the same way. Take a look at this:
Notice that what Romney said about climate change has virtually no public policy implications. The magnitude of the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on climate is far too uncertain, he implies, to call for immediate action during a fragile economic recovery. Romney’s displaying his attentiveness to climate science, and exposing himself to the disapproval of the party base, anyway. Presumably he's doing it to persuade the party establishment of his electability in a general election.
Funny, last presidential election cycle Romney was falling all over himself, comically, to prove to Republican conservatives that he was ideologically reliable. Now, despite the Tea Party’s emergence as a powerful faction within the Republican Party, he apparently doesn’t think he has to.