I got whiplash last night when I read Mitt Romney’s latest remarks about abortion. Morphing into a moderate, he told the Des Moines Register: “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”
Huh? What? Isn’t this the same guy who recently described himself as “severely conservative?”
I thought Romney was supposed to be an ardent foe of abortion who intended to curb it via legislation. At least that’s what he had led us to believe these last six years. For instance, on June 18, 2011, in a guest column on a conservative website, he wrote:
“As president, I will support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood, which primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services….I will advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.”
But I guess those convictions have now been erased, with a fresh twist of the Etch A Sketch dial. Having completed the sales job that netted him the GOP nomination (when he needed conservative voters), he has commenced a new sales job that he hopes will pay off in November (when he needs centrist swing voters, especially women). We should not be surprised by this. A candidate without a core tends to shed or recalibrate convictions, depending on the exigencies of the moment – although it does make you wonder why he chose an ideological running mate with unshakable core beliefs, especially on abortion.
Indeed, it’s important to remember that Romney’s anti-abortion convictions, which surfaced around the time he launched his first presidential bid in 2006, were a wholesale reversal of his previous convictions – the ones that helped get him elected governor of Massachusetts. The anti-abortion presidential candidate of 2006-2012 twisted the Etch A Sketch dial to erase the gubernatorial candidate of 2002. Back then, he had declared: “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard.”
But apparently, words are fungible and honor is disposable. As evidenced by his latest flip and flop on abortion, Romney’s serial erasures speak volumes about his character. The same is true for his serial baits and switches (the latest example: he bashes China, yet he profits from Bain Capital investments in U.S. plants that have moved to China). Theoretically, his opponent in the 2012 race should have an easy time highlighting those fundamental character flaws in their second debate next Tuesday. Go for it, Mr. President!
“Look….uh….I shall perhaps deign to address the occasional areas where Gov. Romney and I may differ on some of the issues of the day….uh….and I may do so as soon as I have completed the important process of taking copious notes for posterity.”
Meanwhile, on CNN yesterday, Romney was again trying to Etch a Sketch his fat-cat fundraising episode, where he maligned nearly half the American people as government-addicted slackers. He told Wolf Blitzer that when he uttered his extensive remarks about the 47 percent, “the words that came out were not what I meant.”
Hearing that, I was reminded of a September cartoon in The New Yorker, showing a politician at a podium. The guy says: “I regret that my poor choice of words caused some people to understand what I was saying.”
President Obama, speaking to young voters yesterday in Ohio: “I need you fired up.”
Tell ya what, pal. Before you presume to tell people to get fired up, why don’t you give them a reason to get fired up – for instance, by debating like you actually give a damn?
Speaking of the second presidential debate, slated for next Tuesday: NewsWorks is hosting a pre-debate panel at the WHYY studio in Philadelphia. I’ll be weighing in on the state of the race, along with fellow NewsWorkers Tony Auth, Dave Davies, and Holly Otterbein. And then we all watch the debate on a big screen, while I somehow try to take notes and live-tweet. The event is open to the public. Here’s your invitation.
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