During the 2004 campaign, I was struck by a situation in which John Kerry flew off the handle at some perceived impugning of his patriotism. He grew red in the face, and basically issued a ban (a hilariously unenforceable ban) on anyone questioning his patriotism. He said (what was he thinking?) that he would not permit it! This was before the fatal, rifle-shot, totally warranted, swift boat campaign.
I am reminded of this by Barack Obama’s frantically futile edicts against criticisms of his wife’s highly criticizable remark that she has only recently ever been proud of the United States.
I suspect that these kinds of ridiculous overreactions are like a tell in poker, they’re basically saying, “poke me here again, and watch me melt down.” They’re announcing to the world “this is my achilles heel.”
I hope Obama wins because the GOP needs to be reduced to lying the gutter, homeless, stinking of maddog 2020, peeing on itself, with all of its currently elected officials ultimately taken out and shot, so that there can be hope for the future that the party rejects corruption and fiscal irresponsibility, and is some day again worthy of the support of conservatives. Where is Trotsky when you need him most?
One of the troubling things about Mitt Romney is something of a pattern of “convenient” changes of position, notably on abortion. As a candidate for governor and senator in Massachusetts, Romney was pro choice, a stance which could be fairly described as “well calculated” for maximizing his electoral prospects in that state. Now, as a candidate for the republican nomination, he is pro life, also a well calculated position.
There are other topics on which his public views have apparently changed, where he has changed to a position more likely to see him nominated. This raises the very fair question, what does he really believe? Can we believe anything he says, given an apparent tendency to change what he claims to believe apparently based on his calculations of political advantage?
Romney addressed the abortion point on Russert’s show this morning. I was struck favorably by his detailed description of the specific situation which caused him to change his mind. To me, his story has the ring of truth, and his story is supported by the public record. I was also struck by his remark that, although he changed his mind about the government’s proper role in the abortion issue, he honored the promise he made while campaigning for governor, that he would not seek to change the state’s laws on abortion.
I am convinced that Romney would prefer to see an America where abortion was essentially banned, with narrow exceptions rooted in the preservation of life. However, I am also convinced that he is not going to make abortion law the centerpiece of his administration. It is clear that the nation will not support such a dramatic change in the status quo at the moment. I think Romney would resist expansions of government-sponsored activity that threatens human life, and would gladly seize upon opportunities to roll back the destruction of human life. I would be satisfied with that. It would be wrong for the president to attempt to violently impose a revolution in abortion law on the nation.
So, is he a flip flopper? I think he is. He has changed his tune on several other topics: immigration and gun control, notably. But when you drill down on the change of tune, there is a similar story. Romney talks a lot about what he is going to seek to do, in a fairly pragmatic, concrete manner. He views these remarks as a kind of contract with the electorate: vote for me, and this is what I am going to try to do. Not surprisingly, his description of what he is going to try do changes depending on the position he is seeking, and the electorate he is seeking to represent, or to lead.
I can live with this kind of flip flopping, as long as he accurately describes what he is going to try to do, and substantially sticks to it.
I liked his response to Russert, that if you are looking for someone who never changes his mind, no matter what, then Romney is not your guy. When I was hiring people at my consultancy, I used to ask more experienced candidates to tell me about a time when they changed their mind about a matter of some importance. I had a hard time hiring someone who claimed he never changed his mind. Real life just doesn’t work that way. Who is always right from the very beginning?
I think Romney holds the right core principles. I am more persuaded after seeing this interview that we can trust what he says.