“Mitt Romney was more likable as a liberal”

So argues Matt Latimer of the Daily Beast, who wonders if Romney is the next Kerry: a doomed flip-flopper. He writes:

Before my eyes was an early Rombot model, circa 1994, that we’ve not seen since: emotional, passionate, lively. He sneered derisively at the “Reagan-Bush” years, bragged about being a political independent, and indignantly defended his “consistent” support of abortion rights. Romney was so proud of his pro-choice pedigree that he even tweaked his Senate opponent, Democrat Ted Kennedy, for equivocation. A few years later, when he ran for governor and was asked about support he’d received from a pro-life organization, he squirmed more uncomfortablythan if he’d been forced to watch a marathon of “Mike and Molly.”

That, of course, is not the Mitt Romney running for president today. In fact the Republican’s encyclopedia-sized list of policy reversals makes 2004’s whipping boy, John “I voted for it before I voted against it” Kerry, look like an exemplar of political consistency. All of which raises a haunting question for the GOP as the clock ticks down to the Iowa caucuses: in a party whose potential nominees include Gary Johnson and Ron Paul, could the GOP’s “safe” choice actually be its most reckless gamble?

Thank you. I lost a lot of respect for Herman Cain this week when he announced he would never be Perry’s running mate because he didn’t believe in Perry’s conservative bona fides because of Gardasil. E tu, Brute? Really? Ever hear of Romneycare?

In 1994, Romney ran for the United States Senate as a “William Weld moderate” because that is what he believed it took to get elected in Massachusetts. On nearly every issue he was boldly to the left of the Republican mainstream. He labeled Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America” too partisan, opposed capital-gains-tax cuts, vowed to encourage banks to give home loans to poor families, and, as The Washington Post put it, “stressed his support for universal health insurance and abortion rights.” At a debate with Kennedy in Boston, the paper noted, Romney “was more outspoken than Kennedy in arguing that the Boy Scouts should not exclude homosexual youths.” Romney once bragged that he voted for a Democrat, Paul Tsongas, in the 1992 presidential primaries, though he later tried to change his story and his rationale. Stewart pointed out that then-Governor Romney vowed to close “corporate loopholes” in the language now used by President Obama. And Romney’s ever-evolving position on his health-care proposal—which he once called a model for the nation—is notorious.

Make it stop. But wait, there’s more:

Only Romney, of course, can know if his is a conversion of conviction or convenience. And in his defense other candidates have undergone similarly broad political evolutions—Ronald Reagan was once a New Dealer; Hillary Clinton was once a Goldwater girl. But their metamorphoses, which in Reagan’s case evolved over decades, came across as believable, even principled, to voters. The problem Romney continues to face is that nothing he says translates that way. As Ted Kennedy famously put it in a debate, “He isn’t pro-choice or anti-choice. He’s multiple choice.”

Good Lord. It’s funny, but it’s not. Too much rests on the outcome of the next election. Too much to waste on a joke of a candidate who has never been and will never be conservative. He’s electable? Pyrrhic victories ain’t my thing.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey highlights this new ad from Rick Perry. Bingo.

Morrissey comments:

This focuses on a real concern of primary voters, and asks them if they will really pull the lever for a man who created one of the models for ObamaCare.  Romney can pledge to overturn it as often as he likes, but the question that the late Tim Russert asks him in a clip shown here still resonates — if RomneyCare was so good for Massachusetts, why wouldn’t Romney try something similar as President for the entire country?

Exactamundo. What strikes me most is that Romneycare is one of the few areas on which Mitt hasn’t flip-flopped. He doesn’t care that we don’t like it. That should scare the sense into any voter.

Pundette gets it:

I hope Romney takes that advice and yet again tries to reshape himself into what he thinks the voters want. It would fail horribly.

He has shaped and reshaped himself so many times that his character remains amorphous. Why the “establishment” GOP sees that as a positive thing, I’ll never know.



3 Responses

  1. “This focuses on a real concern of primary voters, and asks them if they will really pull the lever for a man who created one of the models for ObamaCare.”

    They would rather pull the lever for Obama himself? Or have Obama win by default? Obama is vulnerable. I encourage a healthy primary debate. And we are having one. But we must pull together whoever the nominee is. Mitt is not perfect. Even Ronald Reagan supported abortion at one time. Romney has promised to overturn Obamacare immediately. He has to do it.

    This country and the world is going through an economic crises of which we have never seen in our lifetimes. It goes beyond the bad policies of Obama. Yes, Obama has made it worse, but there is something more fundemental going on. I have not seen a wink of real economic understanding from Perry. He mouths platitudes. I have seen Romney have a real understanding of economics, beyond platitudinal phrases. We need someone with political skills and understanding. People may call Romney plastic, but those are political skills, much like Clinton. This country needs to solve this, no matter what it takes. Perry doesn’t have the skill or the voice.

    • I will do everything I can to make sure Romney is defeated in the primary, Manny. I loathe him.

      And truth be told, I’m not sure he would be an improvement upon Obama. The same was said for not voting the last time, and at least we got the Tea Party movement out of it. We wouldn’t have with McCain. Nor would we with Romney. I think the next election is crucial–you know that. But Romney is no better than Obama, just with an “R” after his name. And that might hurt us more in the end. Flip the Senate and keep the House, increasing the gains. But if Romney is the nominee, I’ll … have a really hard time pulling the lever.

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