The truth is that, if elected, Romney is extremely unlikely to sign the Ryan budget, or to completely repeal Obamacare, or to act in accordance with his tough rhetoric on immigration, or to significantly reduce the deficit. Conservatives have persuaded themselves out of desperation that a man they know to be unreliable won't have any choice but to advance their agenda in the White House, which makes about as much sense as assuming that a Ryan vice-presidency would influence Romney in a conservative direction rather than co-opting Ryan.Me: And that's good! While Friedersdorf (being someone with his own set of disagreements with prevailing opinion in conservatism) doesn't make a clear value judgement in his post, I will. A great attraction of a Romney presidency is precisely that he isn't expected to kill the Energy Dept., restore the gold standard or generally strive for a 19th century vision of political economy. If those were his objectives, he would not have won the Republican nomination, let alone have a good chance (as I think he does) of winning the presidency.
As for all the conservative grumbling, I think Friedersdorf has it right: "Partisans, especially of the professional variety, are nevertheless incapable of acknowledging when they're screwed."
It will be very interesting to see how all this pans out after the election. Either Romney wins, and there is much maneuvering to push his administration in a rightward direction; or Romney loses, and there is much complaint that the GOP should've nominated a "real conservative" (as if Michelle Bachmann would've won). Either way, the trouble for ideological movement conservatives is that they're too strong to recognize the need for compromise--and too weak to get the electoral and governing results they want.