The Emptiest Candidate in Presidential Election History

As the end of this election approaches, it's worth taking a step back and asking this question: In the entire history of the United States of America, from George Washington's election in 1789 on down, has there been a single candidate as unmoored from ideological principle or belief as Mitt Romney? I'm not just throwing an insult here, I ask this question sincerely. Because I can't think of any. There have been middle-of-the road candidates, candidates eager to compromise, candidates who would divert attention to issues that weren't all that important, and even candidates who at some point in their careers undertook a meaningful position change or two. For instance, early in George H.W. Bush's career he was an outspoken supporter of abortion rights, just as Al Gore was anti-choice early in his; both changed their positions to align with their parties. But Romney truly does stand alone, not only for the sheer quantity of issues on which he has shifted, but for the frequency with which wholesale shifts have taken place.

And with the presidential debates complete, there is barely an issue area on which Romney hasn't undergone a change just in the last few weeks. I had thought that no matter what else Romney might change his mind on, if there's one thing he believes it's that the wealth and privilege of the wealthy and privilege must be maintained and enhanced. But he even flip-flopped on that, not only pledging not to cut taxes on the wealthy (in contrast to what he said during the primaries), but actually proposing a huge tax increase on them (though I seem to be the only one who has noticed that that's what Romney has in fact proposed). That neither his supporters nor his opponents believe that he really wants that just makes it all the more remarkable. I feel like we've gotten so used to the idea of Romney as a shape-shifter that what for a different candidate might have been greeted as a series of scandalous acts of cynicism was instead greeted with, "Yep, everybody saw that coming."

You have to give some strategic props to Romney for his latest ideological refashioning. He waited to unveil it until the first presidential debate, when Republicans were at an emotional low point imagining that the president they hate with such consuming venom might waltz to a second term. After that, the new foreign policy Romney we met in the final debate came as no surprise. He calculated correctly that with the election so close his base wouldn't care, that they'd accept anything that might improve their chances of getting rid of Barack Obama. Perhaps they're grumbling in their private conversations, but I doubt it. They know that what matters is winning. They also understand that keeping a President Romney in line will take some work, but that's an effort they're ready for. And that would have been true whether he presented himself as newly Moderate Mitt in the last few weeks of the campaign or not.

Romney also probably understood that if he waited long enough, the press wouldn't punish him much for an ideological refashioning either. At the end of a campaign, horse-race reporting and the focus on the most trivial of campaign quibbles goes from being a bias that colors coverage to swallowing the entirety of coverage. Who has time to write a story about Romney's latest ideological metamorphosis, when there were 18 new polls released today and there are diners in Ohio whose customers have not yet been interviewed to plumb their deep swing-votery wisdom?

In popular culture, politicians are usually portrayed in one of two ways. First you have the candidate whose polished smile and charm hide something sinister: he murdered his mistress, or he'll resort to the most immoral tactics (blackmail, vote-stealing) to win. The second version is the candidate who believes in nothing other that whatever will get him an extra vote or two and who doesn't care at all about issues, the man or woman for whom the only goal is power and for whom power is an end in itself. This caricature is often a way for television shows and movies to use the political world as a dramatic setting while avoiding ideology completely, and it's one that applies to no politician I've ever encountered. Some are more cynical than others, but they all have things they believe in and things they'd like to do. They all have some vision of what America would look like if they had their way.

But in Mitt Romney we may finally have found a candidate who lives up to the caricature. I think by now we can safely say that when it comes to the things government does and the issues that confront the nation as a whole, he truly believes in nothing. It's really quite remarkable that not only could he get so far, but that he has a real chance to become president of the United States.

Comments

Tax rates can be lowered if deductions are eliminated. JFK successfully implemented this approach and Reagan did it again in the eighties.

What about Obama's recycling his same old tired ideas in a new pamphlet? Now that is empty.

Dear conservatives. There is nothing conservative about you, you are an extreme faction like the Taliban or Hezbollah. You live blissfully unaware that we've had a heck of a recovery from the GW Bush Crash of 2008 and if Republican leadership hadn't chosen to stop working for America and instead work against Obama we would be in better shape today. You are unable to recognize what the Stimulus Bill did, even though you drive on the streets it rebuilt, you pocketed a tax break, your doctor now has an EMR, and your commuter trains have been updated (among many other things). You live blissfully unaware of the filibuster, lockstep House voting, ignored jobs bills, public sector job decimation in the states, the futility of austerity, the demonstrated power of Keynesian economics, and the truly awesome Web of Lies that Romney has pushed in the 3 debates. He doesn't want to be President for you, he wants to be President because it's his right for someone of his class and privilege. It will also greatly benefit the .1% that has already taken the country to its knees by shifting wealth and income upward shrewdly and unpatriotically. Trolls, go home. People want to have intelligent discussions here.

It's (almost) morning in America. A surging economy is great news. Especially for the next president. Obama deserves to be the next president for the hard and dirty job he pushed through during the economic depression that ravaged the US. Don’t give a chance to the predator Romney to sit on Obama’s dirty job and take credits aren’t on him.

DOES MITT ROMNEY really want to create jobs here? The article below will
report to the fact, that YES, as of RIGHT NOW-this moment, one of the
companies Romney invested in is forcing our US employee to train Chinese
workers their jobs. Yes, as of right now . . . while Romney/Ryan is
running campaigning about how they are going to create jobs here, they
are ACTUALLY shipping our US jobs oversea.

Read the link below for yourselves:

http://truth-out.org/news/item...

What about 'I voted for the war before I voted against it' Kerry?

Right.. ObamaCare will create jobs? Maybe government and bureaucrat jobs sucking tax money out of the private enterprise... Let's be clear. Businesses drive taxes.. Not the other way. Government can only redistribute money.. It doesn't create economic value.

I would trust Romney as the guy to enact a simple and effective form of nationalized healthcare through insurance premiums. Not this monstrosity of ObamaCare which tries to interfere in every aspect of healthcare as a backdoor mechanism to nationalize healthcare.

If Romney was so evil, why would he push through a healthcare insurance overhaul in Massachusetts? I've been following the guy since before he was running for president. He is a good guy who has clever solutions to complicated problems. Not just printing money and throwing it constituents.

Sorry, I have already voted. God 's will be done.

I'm just an ignorant Canadian, but I do recognize an empty suit when I see one.

But I can't help but feel that Obama's feeling deeply ambivalent about 4 more years in the WH. For all his denials, he know damn well he'll be facing the same obstructionist Congress -- and this time the excuse won't be: To make Obama a one-term president.

It was never about his number of years in office. It has always been about making sure that the vast majority of Americans would agree: A black man in office? Never again!

I knew there was a residual racism in the US, but I didn't know that this residue made up such a wide swath of the American population.
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As I peruse the comments I see that if Gov Romney deviates from any position held in his youth that is proof that he is “unmoored from ideological principle or belief.” But when President Obama vacillates from believing that marriage should be defined traditionally to a “no holds barred” position that indicates rock-solid consistency. In a warped way it is – he will consistently do or say anything that he thinks will buy him another vote.

With regard to Benghazi, if you want to hold this President responsible for not FORESEEING AND PREVENTING the attack, regardless of how well he responded (which is still in progress, but it is reasonable to assume that eventually he will bring the attackers to justice), then it is just as reasonable to hold the previous President responsible for not FORESEEING AND PREVENTING the original 9/11 attack on New York (for which THIS President brought the leader of the attackers to justice). I do not blame W for the 9/11 attack even though he ignored the warnings Clinton's people passed on to him; that was one mistake, although a serious one. Likewise, the Benghazi attack was one mistake, although a serious one (but much less tragic to lose four than to lose 3000). So let's call that one a draw, OK? Offsetting Mulligans, to use a mixed sports metaphor.

The "problem" with Mitt Romney being empty was not a "problem" to those who tried to put him in the White House. Grover Norquist told all the conservatives who were listening that all they needed was a warm hand to hold the pen to sign WHATEVER they put in front of him. Look up the video! So the entire GOP primary process was to find the most moderate APPEARING empty suit to get votes from the majority of Americans that are NOT extreme right wingers. Romney was exactly what they wanted, until the Democrats pointed out who he really is and whom he really represents. Tuesday the American people told us what they thought of the true Mitt, and more importantly, the GOP extreme ideology.

If the Republican party concludes that Romney was not EXTREME ENOUGH to win, let them nominate Glenn Beck or Rush Limburger next time (Atilla the Hun, unfortunately, is dead and was not American). That should be a real fun campaign!

Just thought of a great title for a John Wayne movie parody .. TRUE MITT!

Its funny, now, to read all of the 'pre-election' comments above!

Romney was doomed from the start!
Here's a guy who couldn't 'out-impress'
the most un-impressive politician in
history..note, I didn't say 'war-hero',
I said politician....John McCain!
And Romney was the STRONGEST
choice in this year's election?? Huh?
So, his vacillating on all of the issues
didn't surprise me!
He wasn't prepared! He didn't know
most of the answers! How could he?
And, I don't care what anyone says,
Obama defeated Romney handily,
as he was supposed to!
A message to our disgraceful press
who tried their best to make the
whole thing look like some kind of
contest....just as Romney inevitably did,
you failed miserably too!
The only good that you accomplished was
getting a bunch of illiterate red-neck morons
riled up, spewing their venom all over themselves
and their 'friends'!!

Really love the way in which you describe the facts. Portable vacuum cleaners

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