In a scathing editorial this past weekend, the economically conservative magazine the Economist took Multiple Choice Mitt Romney to task for failing to consistently explain what he believes or detail what he would do if he were elected President:
But competence is worthless without direction and, frankly, character. Would that Candidate Romney had indeed presented himself as a solid chief executive who got things done. Instead he has appeared as a fawning PR man, apparently willing to do or say just about anything to get elected. In some areas, notably social policy and foreign affairs, the result is that he is now committed to needlessly extreme or dangerous courses that he may not actually believe in but will find hard to drop; in others, especially to do with the economy, the lack of details means that some attractive-sounding headline policies prove meaningless (and possibly dangerous) on closer inspection. Behind all this sits the worrying idea of a man who does not really know his own mind.
. . . . . .
A businessman without a credible plan to fix a problem stops being a credible businessman. So does a businessman who tells you one thing at breakfast and the opposite at supper. Indeed, all this underlines the main doubt: nobody knows who this strange man really is. It is half a decade since he ran something. Why won't he talk about his business career openly? Why has he been so reluctant to disclose his tax returns? How can a leader change tack so often? Where does he really want to take the world's most powerful country?
While those portions of the editorial are spot on, the Economist then goes off track by claiming that this week's Republican National Convention provides Romney with "his best chance to say what he really believes" and an opportunity "to show America's voters that he is a man who can lead his party rather than be led by it." This refrain that the Convention provides the Romney with a chance to define himself and his campaign to the American people is a popular one among the chattering classes. But it is also flatly wrong.
The reality is that we already know who Mitt Romney is - an out-of-touch politician who is either unable or unwilling to stand up to the rabid reactionaries who have taken over the GOP. No amount of pandering, speechifying, slick videos, or pretending to be a moderate is going to change that reality.
Some moderates and even a few too many progressives continue to try to convince themselves that Romney would govern as a moderate. But their only support for that belief is Romney's time as Governor of Massachusetts, where it would have been impossible for Romney to win or govern if he had not acted like a moderate. Once he left the Governor's seat in Boston, Romney saw the writing on the wall that his party was taking a sharp rightward turn. Rather than fight for the moderation that he needed to pursue in Massachusetts or the reality-based centrism that had been championed by his father George Romney in the 1960s, Romney time and time again joined in and encouraged the level of craziness that define today's GOP.
As we've detailed previously, during the Republican Presidential primaries, Romney abandoned all sense of moderation and threw his lot in with the reactionaries. For example, he supported Paul Ryan's "marvelous" Austerity Budget, vowed to "get rid of" funding for Planned Parenthood, supported the Blunt Amendment, echoed the false claims of climate deniers', explained that he wished that Robert Bork were on the Supreme Court, embraced the support of conservative firebrand Ann Coulter, declared Arizona's harsh anti-immigration law to be a "model" for the nation, promised to veto the DREAM Act, signed the 2012 pledge of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage, and vowed to abolish ObamaCare on day one of any Romney Presidential Administration.
Since it became clear that Romney would be the GOP's nominee, some in the media continued to surmise that Romney would move to the center. But the move never happened. Romney hasn't backed away from the positions he took during the primary, nor has he stood up to any of the out-of-the-mainstream groups that make up the base of today's GOP. Instead, the Romney campaign has refused to provide virtually any policy details because they believe that doing so would be suicidal. But Romney did give a speech to the NRA that fed into that organization's ridiculous conspiracy theory about President Obama's non-existent threat to the Second Amendment, and gave the commencement address at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University which does not allow LGBT students and teaches creationism. And most significantly, Romney granted the wish of conservative activists by picking Paul Ryan, whose reactionary attempts to abolish Medicare and privatize Social Security are matched by his social extremism, to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.
Over the past year, Romney has shown that either: (1) Romney is a "severe conservative" who truly believes in the retrograde economic, social, and foreign policy views promoted by the reactionaries who have taken over the GOP, or (2) Romney is so lacking in principles and convictions that he is unwilling to stand up to those reactionaries. Either way, the result is the same. A Romney Presidency would be doing the bidding of the climate deniers, NRA conspiracy theorists, birthers, anti-immigrant nativists, anti-LGBT bigots, Medicare and Social Security privatizers, and peddlers of the failed economic and foreign policies of George W. Bush who have taken over today's GOP. No amount of slick packaging or moderate talk during the final day of the Republican National Convention will change that reality.
If you want to make sure that Romney is never in a position to do the reactionaries' bidding, please write a letter to your local newspaper editor about the real Mitt Romney, and sign up to volunteer for President Obama's re-election campaign.