by Gwynn Guilford
My sense all along has been that Romney, while willing to say pretty much anything on the campaign trail, is actually the guy who governed with substantial success as a moderate Republican (sorry, "severe conservative") in liberal Democratic Massachusetts. While his foreign policy team includes enough neocons to keep that part of the base happy, his policy papers have strongly hinted at a conventionally Realist foreign policy. The Zoellick choice is a really welcome reinforcement of that message and the notion that he might emerge as Secretary of State rather than, say, John Bolton strikes me as much more in keeping with Romney’s history.
Larison pushes back:
What history would that be? Romney doesn’t have a history on foreign policy as a politician before 2005, and since then he has been predictably and excessively hawkish. During this campaign, he has been inclined to favor so-called "Cheneyites" and hard-liners on every issue…. Zoellick’s appointment is the thinnest reed on which to place hopes for a sane Romney foreign policy I have ever seen.
Another Larison observation contradicts the premise of our thread:
As for neoconservatives and "the base," I have to protest. Romney didn’t include neoconservatives on his foreign policy team to keep "that part of the base happy." They aren’t part of "the base." Neoconservatives are almost entirely movement and party elites, and they are the ones Romney was trying to satisfy. They have little or no representation at the rank-and-file level. If he didn’t have Robert Kagan and the like on his foreign policy team, 90% of Republican voters wouldn’t even notice, but neoconservative activists and pundits in Washington would. His choice of advisers is a statement about how he intends to govern, and the advisers he appears to listen to most often are among the most hawkish.