Regardless of what you think of George Will, he has been a steady voice of reason on the right for 40 years. The fact that he is now considered an establishment figure is inevitable; he has been fighting for conservative causes before most of his critics were even born. When Will began penning his columns, conservatism was discredited. There is little doubt he helped galvanize the right and his support of Reagan for president helped sell the Gipper's candidacy to the inside the beltway crowd.
And now he has turned his considerable intellect and influence on the problem with Mitt Romney:
A day after refusing to oppose repeal of Kasich's measure, Romney waffled about his straddle, saying he opposed repeal "110 percent." He did not, however, endorse the anti-mandate measure, remaining semi-faithful to the trans-Appalachian codicil pertaining to principles, thereby seeming to lack the courage of his absence of convictions.
Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable; he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate. Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the Tea Party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming.
Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from "data" (although there is precious little to support Romney's idea that in-state college tuition for children of illegal immigrants is a powerful magnet for such immigrants) and who believes elections should be about (in Dukakis's words) "competence," not "ideology." But what would President Romney competently do when not pondering ethanol subsidies that he forthrightly says should stop sometime before "forever"? Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for this?
George Will may not have much sway with the 30% of the Republican party that makes up the base. But for much of the rest, his words still carry weight. Referring to Mitt Romney as a GOP "Michael Dukakis" is absolutely devastating because first, it's what conservatives actually believe, and secondly, because it is true.
If an establishment conservative like Will refuses to support Romney, it means that the race is still wide open despite the push from the Romney camp that their candidate is "inevitable."