Not All Flip-Flops Are Created Equal

Mitt Romney isn’t the first candidate to flip his positions in the service of national ambitions, but there’s something dramatic about the speed and velocity of his transformation. As The Wall Street Journal details in this excellent piece, Romney ran for governor as a liberal –- he promised to defend the state’s abortion laws and provide domestic partnership benefits and then offered himself as a voice for moderation within the Republican Party. Once elected, he continued on that path, signing a state ban on assault weapons and closing a coal power plant under the rationale that private industry shouldn’t have carte blanche to release dangerous fumes into the air.

This all changed in 2005, when Romney began to position himself for a run in the 2008 Republican presidential primary. By the end of the year, he had reversed himself on everything from abortion to climate change, even going as far as to demonize same-sex residents of Massachusetts to out-of-state audiences, in order to build his credibility with social conservatives. “Today, same-sex couples are marrying under the law in Massachusetts,” Mr. Romney told South Carolina Republicans. “Some are actually having children born to them.”

On Twitter, Politico’s Ben Smith compared this to Barack Obama’s political change in the early part of the 2000s, as he prepared his run for national office. The Obama of the 1990s was considerably more left-wing than the Obama of 2008, or even 2004: He supported public financing of campaigns, domestic partnership legislation, a living wage, single-payer health care, and Medicaid funding for abortion. Likewise, he opposed capital punishment, mandatory sentencing, and restrictions on welfare benefits.

Of course, not all ideological repositioning is the same. Even with his more liberal views, the younger Obama was already in line with the views of Democratic activists and just a stone's throw away from the Democratic mainstream. The distance between where he was and where he needed to be—the center-left of American politics—was pretty short. By contrast, Mitt Romney was leagues away from the mainstream of Republican politics –- his move to the right was of a far greater magnitude than Obama’s move to the center.

The problem for Romney is that having made a huge flip to the right wing, he has to make a comparable flop back to the center. Will voters care that he’s traversed the entire ideological spectrum in less than a decade? If the economy is terrble, probably not. But if the fundamentals look good for Obama—or at least, OK—then the public might be less forgiving of his gross inconsistency.


First of all, there are only two flips of substance...abortion and gun control. Secondly, the man has far more character than most politicians....

I trust Mitt Romney because his life-long personal actions support his commitment to conservative values. He respects all segments of society and will treat everyone fairly even though he may not agree with them. I trust his ability and commitment to getting our economy moving. Mitt Romney has the qualities to become one of America's finest presidents.

The only way Romney can avoid daily charges of flip- flopping is to read his positions from 3 by 5 cards when asked a question. Then, the media will criticize his clothes or his intonation. Plastic, robotic, inauthentic, no core etc. are a few of their favorite adjectives. Of course those are code words for the real words, "Mormon" and "not a far right winger." The daily Obama attack machine, assisted by a pliant media will aid and support the Evangelical and far right in theeir destruction of Romney until the general election when the media would be able to turn on and destroy their candidate (just like they did McCain). America wants and needs proven competence and problem solving abilities in their President. As America destroys itself with economic illiterates running the show,isn't it time for someone with a proven track record of turning things around?

As a lifelong conservative, I don't find Mitt Romney to have been that liberal as a Governor on much other than Abortion. He promised that he would protect abortion rights as Governor and he kept that promise. But his fiscal policies were very conservative. He slashed spending. As far as gay issues, conservatives have been supporting domestic partnerships for years now as a compromise against gay marriage. Romney has never supported gay marriage. It's intellectually dishonest for this author to paint him as a liberal. Obama was a radical before he ran for office (and probably still is, at heart). Romney has slid to the right, but at least he's never been on the fringe of American politics. He's always been a centrist.

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