It seems that Mitt Romney’s conservative jailers have limits even during their season of reprieve. Before the first debate, I argued that conservatives would give Romney a day-pass from their oversight, in order to allow him to win the election by pretending to move to the center. But apparently yesterday Romney violated his parole.

He told the Des Moines Register (by the way, the base of the Republican Party in Iowa may be the most pro-life electorate in the country, so it was a bad venue to begin with) that he couldn't see any legislation on the horizon that would change the legal status quo on abortion. This was another chapter in Romney's move to the middle, championed by his wife and his eldest son.

Welcome to ideological politics, Mrs. Romney and Tagg. You just saw the limitations of reinvention. Your candidate touched the third rail of abortion. Within hours, Romney changed positions (I can't count how many times this has happened) and reassured the lunatics, who set his party's abortion and family planning policies, that he will be a dependable radical when it comes to restricting women's rights. Romney even reiterated his promise to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

Here’s the truth in the abortion example: Romney is a wholly owned subsidiary of the tea party and social conservatives. They will tug his chain to the right in a campaign; they will jerk it if he gets to the White House. Romney was never their first choice; they'll dump him in a heartbeat if he strays.