Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Measuring Mitt Part IV

Here’s what we’ve covered while measuring Mitt Romney so far:

·        Part I identified the main general arguments against Romney (but didn’t actually cover them yet—the rest of the post briefly covered Huntsman).
·        Part II looked at the problem of believing the media and opponent stories, with examples of their inaccuracies.
·        Part III looked at character issues, where even enemies have to admit Romney is exemplary.
Today and tomorrow I’d like to cover two more topics: the flip-flopping accusation and Romneycare.

Flip-Flopping and Other Distortions
The flip-flopping argument itself got traction back in the 2004 election. It was used—accurately—on John Kerry, who proudly proclaimed, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." There was a long list of Kerry waffles. He tried to appeal to both sides of various issues, managing to appeal to neither side.
So when the flip-flopping charge was brought against Romney, people thought they knew what that meant—it meant an unprincipled politician who would say anything to any audience and not even bother to keep track of his viewpoints.
Romney and Kerry are from the same state, but they’re very different people. As far as I can tell, every flip-flopping charge, as well as other differences from conservatives, stems from the previous presidential race. No one claims any change from the conservative positions Romney took then. He has been consistently supporting and expressing conservative ideas since his last candidacy, and he was recognized as the conservative among top contenders McCain and Huckabee at that time. So let’s look at some of those specific accusations, made mainly by the McCain campaign in 2007, and what was true.
·        In 2005 Romney supported McCain’s immigration bill as “reasonable” but then opposed it in 2007. In actuality Romney clearly rejected the 2005 bill. Romney remained steadfast in his anti-immigration policy, even when various bills in Congress changed.

·        Governor Romney failed to support Bush’s tax cuts. In reality, at the time he was asked, he was involved in trying to pass a state budget through a liberal legislature that would cut taxes and spending to bring the state back into the black from drowning deficits; at that time, under those pressures, he said he was focusing on the state and staying out of the national political debate. It would be quite a stretch to suggest, however, that staying out meant he was against cutting taxes—the very thing he was accomplishing at the state level against all odds. He remains consistent on this issue, and now that he is involved in the national debate, he is very much in favor of extending those very same Bush tax cuts.

·        Taxes went up under Romney in Massachusetts. Not true. Romney cut state taxes; cities raised taxes, as is their prerogative, whether wise or stupid.

·        Fees went up, and fees are essentially taxes. Not really. Fees cover costs for a special good or service, so they affect only those using the good or service. Fees went up not because Romney raised them, but because he reduced taxpayer subsidies of fees, so that those costs would be borne by the beneficiaries of the goods or services.

·        Illegal aliens were given sanctuary under Romney’s governorship. Not exactly. Certain cities granted sanctuary status on a city level, outside Romney’s influence. A state legislature could act to punish cities for failing to uphold immigration laws, but Massachusetts’s legislature was 85% Democrat, so they had no intention of acting to correct cities on that issue.

·        Romney claimed to be for gay rights and then stood against gay marriage. Not exactly a flip flop. When asked in 1994 whether homosexuals should have the same rights as other citizens—to work, to have access to courts, to be as free from harassment and harm as any citizen—then he said yes, they should have those rights. When, during his tenure as governor, a rogue court decided to “find” a “right” to redefine marriage so that it no longer meant one man and one woman who would engage in the act that could result in procreation and who would commit to a permanent and exclusive bond (an interest of the state as a whole)—then he fought against giving homosexuals that special power over the rest of us. He remains firm on that issue and has testified of the need for a national solution (constitutional amendment and upholding the DOMA law) so that such contracts made in one state will not impose the change in marriage definition on all other states. While it is no longer possible to use the phrase “I support gay rights” to mean supporting their citizenship rights rather than their radical agenda, when he said it in 1994, people knew what he meant. And his stance hasn’t changed. It is essentially the same stance I hold.

·        Romney is against capital punishment. Not true. Massachusetts has no death penalty, but Romney pressed to institute it.

·        Romney was against the NRA and then joined. Hmm. Not exactly. Romney has always been in favor of 2nd Amendment rights, and although he has never been in lock step with every NRA policy, he has signed on as a member. The main discrepancy is probably on waiting periods; he favored them and then opposed them. But that is because of a change in technology, not policy. Romney favors background checks, so that guns aren’t given to criminals and terrorists. It used to be that a background check took a few days—thus the waiting period. Now that technology makes them almost instantaneous, Romney is against the waiting period.

·        Romney lied about his father marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. Actually, George Romney did participate in King marches. And the elder Romney, former Governor of Michigan and one-time presidential candidate, personally led a march of 10,000. MLK, who was a Republican, spoke in favor of George Romney’s presidential run. It is possibly worth noting that it was Republicans who pushed for civil rights legislation in the 1960s; it was “conservative” Democrats (i.e., in favor of conserving their status quo) who opposed civil rights legislation.

·        Romney provided $50 co-pays for abortions in his Massachusetts healthcare bill. No. The abortion co-pay was not part of the bill, but was later court mandated. When Romney speaks of the importance of choosing strict constructionist judges, rather than activist judges, he speaks from experience with them.[1]

The point of today's post is that, now that it's 2011, maybe it's time to stop allowing the McCain campaign (or any other of Romney's enemies and opponents) to define Mitt Romney.

[1] I have paraphrased and added my commentary, but this list comes from a post by Ryan Larsen, January 31, 2008, 7:50 AM, from, no longer available online.

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