Monday, November 28, 2011

Is This the Mitt Romney We've Been Waiting For?

We've been promised an introduction for years, and... look what the cat dragged in.

The Dems have started to run ads accusing Romney of flip-flopping. His initial response boiled down to, "We would like to respond to the accusation by... hey look, a bird!"
All told, Romney's campaign put on a dozen so-called "response" calls of their own, using surrogates like Nevada's Lt. Governor Krolicki and former Pennsylvania Congressman Phil English to attempt to hammer home the same message: the Obama campaign doesn't want to talk about the economy, they only want to tear down Mitt Romney.
Because nothing says "I'm presidential" by failing to refute any of the substance of the accusations against you (he's only had, you know, five years to think about it so how can you blame him for a flat-footed response) and reminding the public about your recent whopper of a lie. Romney's official excuse for the lie is the claim that he gave reporters a memo with the full quote, implicitly revealing the ad to be a lie. I'm not sure why he thinks that redeems his act of lying.

Meanwhile, he can't even hold the line on "Look, a bird!", and is pushing back by arguing that the campaign ad about his many flip-flops does not go into the nuances of his various positions. Given that we're talking about two or more competing positions on a large range of issues, I expect that covering Romney's nuance would require the production of a feature-length film. Romney's complaints are pretty thin:
Romney is shown saying: "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose." He made that statement at a gubernatorial debate in Boston in 2002.

The clip is juxtaposed with Romney saying: "The right next step is to see Roe v. Wade overturned." The quote, which is truncated, came from a 2007 appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The full quote from the interview shows more nuance in Romney's position than the DNC ad reveals, with the candidate taking the position that each state should decide its own abortion rules.

Romney said: "First of all, my view is that the right next step in the fight to preserve the sanctity of life is to see Roe v. Wade overturned. And then to return to the states and the elected representatives of the people the ability to deal with life and abortion on their own."
That's the sort of milquetoast waffling one would expect from Romney - make it a "state's rights" issue rather than stating a clear opinion. "Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others." Except unless Romney's campaign is now asserting that Romney supports the right to choose at the state level, it's a distinction without a difference. And they aren't saying that, if judged by its timing as opposed to a dubious anecdote about a seminal discussion with a stem cell researcher, his flip-flop was all about pandering to the religious right.

Romney's team also complains about the ad's observation that he flip-flopped on health care reform by omitting "context" that showed his opposition to a public option. Except as Romney must be aware, there is no public option in the Affordable Care Act, so his "context" is irrelevant.

I expect that any number of third parties will engage in hair-splitting to lecture us that the ad was unfair in various ways to Romney by offering a highlight reel instead of the aforementioned feature length documentary. But it astonishes me how little Romney seems to care about veracity and how unprepared he is to defend his own record. No, I take that back. It's exactly what I've come to expect from him.

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