I get it, Mitt Romney was a management consultant. Peter Suderman, in Reason, devotes an entire article to Mitt as potential consultant-in-chief. And, to be fair, I actually don’t object to people who look at actual data and try to base their decisions on said data.
If only that were what Mitt Romney were doing. Suderman:
Those who have worked with Romney cite his flexibility as a virtue. “He’s spent his entire life in a world that’s constantly changing, where he has had to modify his thinking in order to address problems,” says Scott Meadow, his friend and former business partner. “I think it demonstrates something that I’ve always seen: an ability to adapt and change, and a willingness to accept that his thinking evolves. And not being afraid to change his mind and go in a different direction because that seems like the appropriate thing to do.” Meadow says Romney is “loyal to success,” whatever form it takes. “He’s flexible because he’s had to be,” Meadow says.
And why has he “had to be” flexible? Why, because his audiences were looking for different positions:
He tangled with President Obama last week over whether religiously affiliated hospitals should be required to provide free contraceptives — “abortive pills,” Mr. Romney called them. And when a breast cancer group pulled its financing from Planned Parenthood, Mr. Romney called on the federal government to follow suit, saying, “The idea that we’re subsidizing an institution that provides abortion, in my view, is wrong.”
The comments reflect Mr. Romney’s evolution from abortion rights advocate to abortion foe; gone was any trace of the candidate for governor who, 10 years ago, answered a Planned Parenthood questionnaire by saying he backed “state funding of abortion services” underMedicaid.
Today Mr. Romney is working hard to convince his party’s skeptical right wing that he is “adamantly pro-life,” especially in the wake of his embarrassing loss in three states last week to Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania and a stalwart of the anti-abortion movement. Yet the more Mr. Romney courts social conservatives, the more two of his Republican rivals, Mr. Santorum and Newt Gingrich, dredge up his past to attack him as a flip-flopper.
The Times is kind when it calls Romney’s change on reproductive rights an “evolution”, but then again, “cynical repositioning” is probably not going to pass muster with the editors.
More problematic, for Romney, is health care, where he opposes on a national level essentially what he implemented on a state level while suggesting it would be a good national model.
But that was so 2008.
It’ sad, almost: Romney’s greatest strengths, which
are were his pragmatism and openness to fact-based solutions, are anathema to the GOP primary electorate. And the problem with his contortionist-level flexibility isn’t that people don’t know what he really believes – it’s that it’s not clear even he knows anymore.