To be a Republican candidate these days, you have to attack Big Government while supporting Social Security, and attack a president who killed Osama bin Laden as "undermining" national security. In other words, writes Paul Krugman, you have to "be totally cynical or to be totally clueless." Mitt Romney has taken the cynical route: “He isn’t a stupid man—but he seems to play one on TV." He couldn’t really believe, for example, what he says about President Obama’s health care reform, when it’s essentially "identical" to his own effort.
Romney’s challengers have largely fallen to their own cluelessness. But Newt Gingrich could be different—"he’s a glib speaker, even when he has no idea what he’s talking about,” and he’s "good at doublethink": making himself believe what he’s saying. But “"the fact that the party is committed to demonstrably false beliefs means that only fakers or the befuddled can get through the selection process," Krugman notes in the New York Times. "The realities of government in the 21st century bear no resemblance to the mythology all ambitious Republican politicians must pretend to believe"—so Krugman shudders, "What will happen then?" (Read more Paul Krugman stories.)