Monday, January 28, 2008

The Real Mitt Romney

That's me at CPAC last year with Flipper the Dolphin, telling people what to do with Mitt Romney. Notice my now-defunct support sticker.

Yes, it's time we talk about Mitt Romney. I don't like John McCain, but I really don't like Mitt Romney. As the election comes down to the two of them (apparently), I now believe it will be a McCain-Huckabee ticket (which I won't vote for), but I would vote for Ted Kennedy before I'd vote for Mitt Romney. So would most of the state of Massachusetts, as it happens.

Yesterday, Ed Morrisey of Captain's Quarters endorsed Mitt Romney. Ed has been called one of the "most influential center-right" bloggers in the country. I'm not sure where center-right puts you, but he claims he would be able to support Guiliani, Huckabee, Romney or McCain "easily" if they became the nominee. Therefore, Ed finds himself in a rather unique position, as I don't think there are too many Republicans or conservatives out there who are having a tough time supporting a candidate because there are too many good ones. I think it's rather the opposite, but maybe that's just my problem.

Regardless, I sent Ed an email earlier, which I'm expanding into a full-length article here, describing what I'll call "The Real Mitt Romney."

The Real Mitt Romney was not always a conservative, by any stretch of the word. His conversion to traditional principles -- the result of a series of "Come to Jesus" / "I've seen the light!" experiences, supposedly -- occurred between 2005 and 2007. That's a rather recent change of heart for someone trying to convince the whole of conservative America that he identifies with them.

Romney is a brilliant man, to be sure. He was valedictorian as an undergraduate at Brigham Young University, and received a joint JD/MBA degree from Harvard Law and Business Schools, graduating in the top 5 percent of his class at Harvard Business School. He has managed several business enterprises extremely successfully, and has a net worth of as much as a quarter of a billion dollars.

But simply being rich doesn't buy you political favor, no matter what the cynics may say. Romney's first race was an ambitious one: against the then-seven term Senator and liberal institution Ted Kennedy. In this race:

  • Romney supported homosexual rights1, including gay marriage2,3, which was legalized in Massachusetts during his term as governor of that state (albeit by judicial dictate, rather than executive passage).
  • Romney was a pro-choice candidate for Senate, and remained unabashedly so through his term as governor4. It wasn't until 2005 that he supposedly "became pro-life." (More on this in a moment.)
  • Mitt was to the left of Kennedy on campaign finance reform -- despite the amount of money that he personally made in business, he seemed to ignore those lessons of the private sector and argued that there was too much money in politics. He contended that Political Action Committees (PACs) should be abolished.5
  • Romney was a "strong supporter" (his words) of gun control, and backed both the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban, two measures which brought the ire of the N.R.A.6

This paints a picture of Mitt Romney, the 1994 Republican candidate for Senate: pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, anti-gun, and decrying money in politics (among other things). This doesn't exactly represent the heart and soul of the Grand Ol' Party. But Mitt lost the race, and retreated back into business until 2002, when he re-emerged to run in (and win) the gubanatorial race in Massachusetts. He did not run for re-election in 2006, most likely in anticipation of a lengthy and expensive Presidential run in 2008. (Romney's friends believe he is willing to spend upwards of $50 million of his own money for his shot at the Presidency.)

But what came of his time as Governor? What record does he have to run on?

For starters, he never quite got around to abolishing PACs. At least not ones that donated money to his campaign; he had his own PAC right up until 2006, and he now opposes the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation.5

Also, he donated money to Planned Parenthood -- the country's largest abortion provider. The former head of the Massachusetts office said she believed Romney was "100 percent behind the pro-choice public policy position."4

In 2002, he gave a speech to NARAL Pro-Choice America in which he said: "I'm a strong believer in stating your position and not wavering."13

Whoops. That's a pretty clear signal. But supposedly in July 2005, Romney had one of his many "Come to Jesus" talks (the LORD must be getting exasperated by now), and decided he was pro-life. He vetoed legislation that would have expanded access to the morning after pill. Three months later (October 2005) he signed a bill expanding coverage for family planning services, and his new pro-life friends said, "Do what?" Two months later (December 2005) he signed a bill forcing Catholic hospitals to provide the morning after pill in spite of their vehement protest over their religious convictions.4

At this point, Jesus is going into the Governor's mansion and flipping over the money changing tables.

And today, Romney is running as the candidate who is "100% pro-life."7 He also appears on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson,8 is the "traditional marriage" (one man-one woman) candidate,7, and would "happily" sign a bill banning abortion forever.9

In 2006 Romney was in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants -- now in 2007 (a rather short turnaround) he opposes the Kennedy-McCain so-called "amnesty" bill.10

In 1994 he was fully in support of controlling guns, the Brady bill, and banning assault weapons. In August 2006 he joined the NRA and now goes hunting with some of those same weapons he formerly thought were so dangerous they had to be taken away from NRA members.11

On gays in the military:
1994: They should be allowed to serve "openly and honestly in our nation's military."
2007: Don't ask, don't tell.12

Stem cell research:
Yesterday: Safe and legal.
Today: Always illegal.12

The list goes on and on. Mitt Romney is a political opportunist who is almost worse than Hillary Clinton. His positions reek of political convenience and self-interest, and he flip-flops as much as John Kerry. (Maybe it's a Massachusetts thing.)

Simply being smart and having a sharp business mind doesn't merit the Presidency. I've heard too many people defend Romney for just that reason. As you can see, the National Review endorsed him (which, entertaining as the National Review is sometimes, doesn't go far; they also endorse marijuana legalization, and other liberal initiatives).

I can respect fellow conservatives who have different principles than mine. And I can respect that they would support a different candidate than I. But what I cannot respect is a candidate or a candidate's supporter who is engaged in barely-veiled deceit and deception, opportunism and double-talk, purely to win an election. Romney defends himself by saying others are "holier than thou" simply because they've been pro-life longer than he.

Mr. Romney: it's not how long you believe in something that matters. It's how much we trust your belief. And quite frankly, I don't trust you.

1Romney's flip-flop
2Romney softens tone on gay marriage
3Romney's '94 remarks on same-sex marriage could haunt him
4Mitt Romney's flip-flop-flip
5Romney's newest flip-flop: campaign finance
6Romney Retreats on Gun Control
7Mitt Romney: American Culture & Values
8CBN: Romney Feels Heat on Abortion
9Mitt Romney on Abortion
10Border Security Group Attacks Mitt Romney for Flip-Flopping on Immigration
11Romney joined NRA in August
12The Talented Mr. Romney
13Even more Romney flip-flops


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