The Mitt Romney Puzzle

-By Warner Todd Huston

It is true that I want John McCain stopped. And, between McPain… I mean McCain… and Romney it would be Romney that is closer to the principles of a conservative when choosing a presidential candidate for the GOP.

But, this is not to say I endorse Mitt the Malleable, either. The puzzle about Mitt is which Mitt are we supporting? The Mitt of generally left of center politics that ran against Kennedy, and ran for Governor of Massachusetts or the generally right of center Mitt that is now running for president? Or even the Mitt that claims he is an arch conservative?

In that vein, I saw a quote from columnist Jeff Jacoby that sums up a couple of things for me, yet frames the question here perfectly and highlights the reason that, for conservatives, supporting Mitt is problematic.

Here is what Jacoby wrote:

“Romney’s very public migration rightward over the last few years is a different kind of act, one intended not to hide his real views but to liberate them. In 1994, Romney struck me as an extraordinarily bright, talented, and decent man—and a political neophyte who fell for the canard that the only way a conservative could win in Massachusetts was by passing for liberal. [Now,] Romney is where he should have been all along.”

Were Mitt’s views really “liberated” from his past, wrong headed left leaning ideas? Perhaps yes. Or perhaps if all you want to see is a politician that is warming to conservative ideas, then Romney fits the bill?

But, can we believe him? How are we to assume that his drift rightward is genuine? Most of his record shows a man not of conservative bent. Yet, as he geared up to run for president, suddenly and over the space of only a few, short years time, he becomes the conservative’s best friend?

Why should we believe this sudden turn around? Why should we not just assume it is a cynical ploy by Mitt for the support of conservatives and that once in office he will revert to lefty Mitt? It wouldn’t be the first time that a Republican left of conservative ran on conservative platform and then veered left once in office (can we say Trent Lott?).

For his part, Jacoby seems to swallow Mitt’s turn around whole. So, it begs the question to be asked: does Jacoby just see what he wants to see, or does he see what really is? And that is the problem with Mitt Romney’s supposed drift to the right. To believe it, one must suspend any examination of the record, cross one’s fingers, and think good thoughts that it is all true.

Personally, I judge a man by his actions, not by his claims. By Romney’s actions he is no conservative — he shows as a moderate. Sadly, there is no contest between John McCain and Mitt Romney. McCain is far, far worse. But, Mitt is no prize either.

I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of being asked to chose between the less of two worsers.

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