Uh oh. Just as he did with the individual mandate, Mitt Romney has again committed the misstep of revealing that he harbors somewhat sensible and balanced views about something that’s a frequent target of right-wing ire:

With organized labor at the center of several nasty state budget fights, Mitt Romney spoke warmly of unions at a town hall Tuesday.
“Unions have played a very important role historically in balancing in some cases the egregious actions of some employers and have been important to the development of our economy,” Romney said at a town hall meeting in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, on Tuesday morning.

Romney did go on to criticize labor’s response to Boeing’s decision to locate a plant in a right-to-work state instead of a union-friendly one, but still, his general praise for unions seems somewhat out of sync with the current view Tea Partyers have of organized labor.

I’m not sure what’s most heretical about Romney’s statement. Is it his acknowledgment of the importance of unions, at a time when driving them out of existence for good has emerged as a central conservative goal? Or is it his belief that capitalism has allowed employers — i.e., the job-creators — to indulge in egregious activity that has necessated placing a check on their absolute freedom? Or is it his suggestion that the free market has on occasion revealed itself to require some assistance in guaranteeing a perfectly functioning economy?