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Flip Flop Romney: To Trust Or Not To Trust…(Part 2)

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Please read Part 1 of my Election '08 article on Mitt Romney to get the full analysis

While Mitt Romney's change from moderate Republican to full-blown conservative left a sour taste in the mouth of Massachusetts citizens, only time will tell if the Republican base in early primary states will ultimately accept this "new" right-wing Romney as one of their own. If this recent Rasmussen survey means anything, the upside for Romney going forward is not good, as he is tied with Hillary Clinton at 47% for having the highest level of "core opposition" among voters, meaning they won't vote for him no matter how bad the other choices are.

Perhaps some of those absolutely negative feelings towards him contributed to his somewhat disappointing "Silver Medal" finish in Iowa Thursday night. After leading Iowa for much of the primary season, voters only gave him 25% of their votes, as opposed to the 34% they gave to the other former governor in the race, Hope, Arkansas's Mike Huckabee. New Hampshire though, whose primary is next week, has Romney and John McCain in a dead heat atop the latest polls, so maybe those potential voters are loyal to Romney or fail to understand how unprincipled and untrustworthy a candidate he really is.

For example, on Meet The Press a couple of weeks ago, one minute Romney said the 12 million illegals in this country should not have to go home and should be able to sign up for citizenship. The next minute, he said a "great majority" of them should go home. Furthermore, the Boston Globe pointed out that in 2005, he said McCain, President Bush and other proponents of immigration reform bills didn't have his full endorsement but were "reasonable proposals" that were "quite different from amnesty." By 2007, as the paper pointed out, he called the McCain-Kennedy bill "amnesty" and rejected it outright.

Romney has also taken both sides of the embryonic stem cell debate and become a hypocrite on pardons. The candidate brags that he didn't pardon one criminal as governor out of respect for jury verdicts, not even for a decorated Iraqi veteran who was charged with shooting (but not really injuring) a kid with a BB gun in his youth.

As bad as that is, he now thinks former White House aide "Scooter" Libby deserves a full pardon by President Bush based on a false belief that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald abused his power and nailed the wrong guy during his investigation of who was criminally responsible for leaking the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to the media in 2003. Libby was convicted early in 2007 on 4 of 5 counts for obstructing justice, committing perjury and providing false statements to federal officials. Bush however, thought the prison sentence was too harsh a punishment so he used his executive power to commute (or kill) it, but did not fully pardon him. Gotta love Romney's priorities: pardon the White House war hawk but not an actual veteran of the Iraq war.

Mitt can relate to so-called "chickenhawks" though, as he told the New York Times recently that back when he was a Mormon missionary in the late 1960s, he accomplished little in converting the French to his cause and "longed" for a chance to join his comrades in Vietnam. When he returned from France though, while his fellow missionaries enlisted in the armed forces, he got a student deferment so he could go to college instead.

As far as foreign policy matters are concerned, Romney supports the Iraq War like many Republicans. However, his views on the War on Terror are almost as misguided and scary as Huckabee's, whose campaign has said that his "former pastor" background helps him understand our Islamic extremist enemies and that the War On Terror is a "theological" war. [Echoes of President' Bush's gaffe that we're on a "crusade" against terrorists, doesn't it?] For instance, Romney said early in a Fox News-sponsored GOP debate in May of last year that he's glad our enemies are locked up in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and don't have access to lawyers, and that the facility needs to be doubled, as opposed to closed, which everyone from Colin Powell and the British to the Bush administration and Democrats want.

Of course, what Romney fails to understand is that the problem with Gitmo isn't size, it’s about putting the prisoners on trial and doing so with rights and legal procedures that are older than this country, including the writ of habeus corpus, which is not a right in and of itself but a safeguard against peremptory state behavior.

He also apparently doesn't understand that closing Gitmo is a laudable goal, but that returning uncharged prisoners to their home countries is the main stumbling block, as well as the legal and political arguments over whether to try the remaining prisoners in military tribunals or federal courts. The fear is that letting these prisoners go back to their home countries (like Russia and China) could subject them to torture and harassment by local authorities, or that they may come back to fight the U.S. and their allies some day. But fear not Romney fans, he'll probably seek "counsel" from his trusty advisers to handle this and other issues like Iran, I'm sure.

Let's not forget his embarrassing argument with former tortured Vietnam POW John McCain over "waterboarding" at the Republican CNN/YouTube debate. He refused to admit that "waterboarding" is torture, said he needed to consult with advisers – even McCain, who condemned it! – about the procedure, and wouldn't tell the public anyway because it would help our enemies. This procedure, which the CIA is now in trouble for allegedly using on a few al Qaeda prisoners, has been condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike since at least World War II, when it "convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied POWs."

The U.S. military has banned waterboarding as well, and no politician, including Romney should be seen waffling or seeming willing to approve illegal interrogation procedures while our soldiers are still trying to fight the Iraq War and War on Terror, within the rule of law.
Romney also does not fully understand the ethnic nature and different objectives of the enemies the U.S. and allies like Israel face every day. No, he wrongly believes that "radical jihadists" have "come together as Shi'a and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda" to bring down Western and moderate Islamic nations. If only it were that simple, Mitt.

In all, if you're a Republican voter looking for someone who is an authentic leader who is strong on national security and can appeal to the religious right without sounding like a zealot (like Huckabee) and win the general election against the Democratic nominee, John McCain, not Mitt Romney, is your man. No, he's not the ideal conservative Republican candidate, but as his recent rise in the polls suggests, he's the best you're going to get this election cycle. Besides, in the current political climate, there is no electable Republican with a solid, non-fraudulent platform of supporting low taxes, being tough on immigration and crime, has solid conservative values, is pro-life, pro-gun rights, pro-free trade and strong on national security.

The old Mitt Romney was unelectable in a Republican primary. By voting for the new Mitt Romney though, you're taking the chance that his numerous flaws will be exposed in a general election or that he'll become a fraud again and turn his back on you the same way he turned his back on Massachusetts. Either way, it's not a chance worth taking.

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About Charlie Doherty

Copy editor/content writer for Penn Multimedia; print/web journalist/freelancer, formerly for Boston Examiner, EMSI, Demand Media, Brookline TAB, Suite 101 and Helium.com; co-head sports editor & asst. music editor at Blogcritics Magazine; Media Nation independent newspaper staff writer, printed/published by the Boston Globe at 2004 DNC (Boston, MA); Featured in Guitar World May 2014. See me on twitter.com/chucko33, myspace.com/charlied, & Facebook.
  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I have no dog in this race of greyhounds for the “presidency” of your country. The ONE thing that MAY give Huckabee ANY understanding in dealing with the Wahhabi or the Iranian mullahs is a theological background as a pastor. At least it is to be hoped that unlike his secular counterparts, the idea of a messianic war may not be off his horizon altogether. At least he might have the some concept of “going to war for G-d” somewhere in his background. Maybe….

    I’m not saying this to defend the guy or demean any of his opponents. For the most part, all the candidates strike me as non-entities. But if the man can, in his gut at least, comprehend what the enemy is about, he has more than a snowball’s chance in hell in dealing with them.

  • Charlie

    Well Ruvy, if you’re looking for a US candidate that clearly can “comprehend what the enemy is about,” Ron Paul, a Republican Congressman from Texas seems to better understand the Middle East better than anyone else in his party; in the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton is the most knowledgeable candidate from what I can see – plus it helps to have a former president (Bill Clinton) as a husband that can give her daily advice in this regard, as he was heavily involved in Middle East politics, peace and terrorism issues during his two terms in office in the ’90s.

    As far as Huckabee is concerned, his past includes statements somewhere along the lines of that we have to “take this country back for Jesus Christ.” A president Huckabee may not act this way, but can you blame potential voters in America for thinking that his deeply religious background could somehow cloud his judgment or leading us down the wrong path when it comes to battling religious fanatics in the world or straddle that line concerning separation of church and state in this country?

    Look, I’m a Catholic, but after researching and reading about some of his past statements and beliefs (can’t recall them all at the moment), even I and many others realize Huckabee has to tone down his Christian rhetoric, especially in campaign ads, if he’s going to win in a general election. He doesn’t have to appeal to the secularists in the US, but he can’t come across as a Christian fanatic either. In other words, he can’t come across as another Pat Robertson, whom many evangelicals are not liking these days.

    On another note, Huckabee is one heck of a rock and roll bass player! Don’t think that will make a big difference election-wise but it might win him some votes from the younger crowd in the upcoming primaries.

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    As far as Huckabee is concerned, his past includes statements somewhere along the lines of that we have to “take this country back for Jesus Christ.”

    That is exactly what “fighting a war for the messiah” is all about, Charlie. I repeat, all of the fools running for president in America are non-entities in my eyes, but the gut understanding of what a religious war can mean is what the leader of your nation has to have – he is in the midst of one.

  • Charlie

    I do hope that you understand that the rap against us in the War on Terrorism in a lot of the Muslim world is that we aren’t really trying to go after the Islamic extremists as much as we’re trying to tear down Islam itself. I know that’s BS, you probably know it’s BS, but past statements by President Bush about us going on a “crusade” – he said it once and regretted it – don’t help our cause, and you certainly don’t want to give Muslim extremists any more incentive than they already have to hate us and spread their propaganda against the West to peoples who don’t know any better.

    Huckabee can certainly use his religious past as a moral compass, just like any leader with faith would, but he can’t come across as a zealot on a mission for Christianity in this War on Terror. He has to frame it as a national and global war with moral consequences, not a mainly religious war. Taking the latter road could possibly alienate people of other faiths in the U.S and also alienate countries trying to help us in the War on Terror, countries who don’t share Catholic beliefs.

    Basically, we need to continue to work together with people and countries of all mainstream faiths and societies in order to defeat terrorism around the world. That’s all I’m saying.

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Charlie,

    You keep talking about how these fools sound and look – both to you and to the Wahhabi enemy. Neither are important. To beat these bastards, you need nerves of steel, to be handsome enough for radio, and in your own gut, you need to comprehend what a crusade to the death is – because that is what the Wahhabi are pursuing.

    So the ability to pursue a crusade to destroy an enemy until he no longer exists on the planet is one of the needed quals for your POTUS. Otherwise, he’ll have all the effectiveness of a houseplant.

  • http://www.principledleader.org David Richins

    I am bothered by the criticisms of Romney that I hear. Most disturbing to me is the perception that he is some kind of faker or con-artist. But if you look at the way he has lived his life, you can see that he epitomizes family values. The number of his position changes has been exaggerated. It is as if changing your mind about something is a deadly sin. I can tell that Romney has a very analytical mind, which makes him a good manager. He believes in unchanging principles, but he knows that the implementation of policy related to those principles is not always black and white. For example, I believe abortion is wrong in most cases, but I can understand the arguments against banning it completely. In other words, I can understand why Romney would change his mind on the subject. It does not mean he is not genuine. In fact, it shows that he has the capability of uniting this country and considering diverse viewpoints.

  • Charlie

    He believes in unchanging principles, but he knows that the implementation of policy related to those principles is not always black and white. For example, I believe abortion is wrong in most cases, but I can understand the arguments against banning it completely. In other words, I can understand why Romney would change his mind on the subject. It does not mean he is not genuine.

    So in the 1990s, when Romney said he was committed and “dedicated” to a woman’s right to choose to win the support of liberals in Massachusetts to become governor, you thought that was a “genuine” position, right?

    Since then he’s broken that commitment in order to be a pro-life president.

    When he said that John McCain’s support for immigration reform was “reasonable” and NOT “amnesty,” that was genuine too, right?

    Now he calls his proposals (as of mid-2007) “amnesty.”

    Do you see what I’m getting at here? The man says whatever he needs to say to get elected, whether its saying he’s a moderate or liberal Republican to become governor of Massachusetts, then becoming a religious, pro-life conservative to run for president.

    There’s no defending this guy anymore. Yes, he’s got a nice family, but he’s an arrogant personality too, saying his kids are serving his country by participating in his presidential campaign. Talk about a fake way to serve your country.

    Do you realize that after years of supporting gun control laws, all of a sudden in the summer of 2006 Romney signs up to become a lifelong member of the NRA, years after saying he doesn’t “line up with the NRA”? There’s nothing genuine about most of his gun rights positions either. “Lifelong hunter” my ass.

  • Arch Conservative

    People bash Bush because he never sees the error of his ways. A lot of the same people are bashing Mitt Romney for changing his mind on a small number of issues.

    Some people bash romney because he is not a socialist believing that the government should hold your hand and wipe your ass but rather he has succeeded on his own two feet in the real world and the fact that he did that when they couldn’t galls them.

    A lot of people are just bigotted towards Mormons also.

    Whatever reason you have for not liking Romney it cannot compare with that crazy bastard John mccain conspiring with senator chappaquidac to serve up our nation’s sovereignty on a silver platter to Mexico.

    Maybe if Mccains staright talk express aka juan mccain crazy train is derailed again he can run for president of mexico.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Arch, it’s one thing for a politician to acknowledge that he has changed his views on some issues. It’s quite another for him to pretend that he always held the views he has now, when the record shows otherwise.

    Romney has either conveniently forgotten that he was once pro-choice (to use one example), or he was lying to the pro-choicers back then, or he’s lying now.

    Whichever it is, he’s not smelling of roses right now.

  • Arch Conservative

    Have you been hiding out with Obama Bin Laden…oooops I meant Osama Bin Laden in a cave for the past 6 months dreadful because I have seen Romney admit that he was pro-choice at one point at least a hundred times.

  • Charlie

    Arch, the reason I wrote this series on Romney is because he changed his mind on A LOT of issues, NOT a “small ” number, as you put it. And I didn’t even include everything I could have. I mean, just tonight Dan Abrams reaired a clip of Romney saying earlier this year on TV – I think it was ABC – he would support the idea of timetables for getting out of Iraq; knowing that he and every republican except Ron Paul is for staying in Iraq nowadays, even Pat Buchanan agreed with Abrams that this was a serious flip flop. It was #1 on Abrams’ Top 5 misstatements by presidential candidates.

    Again, it’s not a SMALL amount of flip flops and hypocritical statements on Romney’s part that prompted me to write this series, it was more like a mini book’s worth. If he keeps this up, I might have enough to do a PART 3!

    He’s

  • Charlie

    (Forgot to edit out that leftover word at the end of my last comment, oh well)

    If McCain wins New Hampshire over Romney by a narrow margin (giving him second place again) or if Romney wins outright, get ready for more verbal flips and dishonesty from him. Just this past weekend, he was caught lying at one of the Republican debates saying he didn’t call John McCain’s immigration reform “amnesty,” when that’s exactly what he did in one of his latest ads. It just keeps happening.

    To be fair, McCain also was disingenuous at the same debate (I believe the ABC one) when he said he never sponsored or voted for a pork barrel spending project, when in his past he supported a $10 million legislation that memorialized William Rehnquist. Not a biggie, but still a bit of dishonesty.

    And like I keep saying, every politician gets disingenuous and flip flops, it’s the HUGE amount that piles up over time that people and voters need to pay attention to. But no one matches Romney’s changes of heart. Nobody.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    Someone pointed out on TV tonight that if Romney had stuck with presenting himself as a skilled executive rather than trying to out-social-conservative everyone else running, he’d be winning now instead of struggling.

    Instead, the insincerity/pandering label is beginning to be what most people know about him, besides the fact that he has great hair and smiles a lot. We’ve had an MBA/CEO in the White House since 2001, and I’m not eager for another one. But that might have worked for some voters.

  • Charlie

    Handyguy, you might be right but then again, if he didn’t “out-social-conservative” the other competitors, wouldn’t he be more like Rudy Giuliani? Rudy might claim to support “strict constructionist” judges now, but he’s still pretty much a social moderate, and you’ve seen how NOT well that’s done for him on the campaign trail.

    Romney should’ve either stayed pro-second amendment rights, pro-life or been pro-traditional family values all this time or not faked stances on abortion, gun control and gay rights (among other things) to win the support of voters in my state. You know the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” We won’t and should not be fooled again.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I have seen Romney admit that he was pro-choice at one point at least a hundred times.

    Not exactly, Arch.

    In a speech to the National Right to Life Convention Forum last June, Romney tried to explain the dichotomy this way:

    “When I first ran for office, while I was always personally opposed to abortion, I considered whether this should be a private decision or whether it should be a societal and government decision. I concluded that I would support the law as it was in place – effectively, the pro-choice position.”

    [my emphasis]

    Bollocks. Why would a guy who was opposed to abortion not only hobnob with, but also donate to, Planned Parenthood? Why wouldn’t he have taken the honorable course and explained that while he couldn’t support them due to his personal beliefs, he would as Governor respect the strong pro-choice views of many Massachussetts residents?

    It’s his blatant dishonesty that bothers me and should bother you. Either he was bullshitting Planned Parenthood, or he was bullshitting the Right to Life Convention. Charlie’s diagnosis is spot on – the man will say anything to get elected.

  • Arch Conservative

    I find John Mccain supporting amnesty far more aggregious than Mitt saying he didn’t call it amnesty when he did.

  • Clavos

    “The man says whatever he needs to say to get elected…”

    Name one candidate (either party) with a shot at actually getting elected, who doesn’t.

  • Charlie

    Dr. Dreadful: Well said, well put (thanks for the props).

    Arch: What’s your definition of “amnesty” then if you think McCain supports it? As far as I’m concerned, any plan or path for citizenship that takes over a decade to complete is not amnesty.

    Clavos: Sure, you will always find politicians pandering to certain audiences to get elected. But you miss my point: Hypocrite Mitt’s changing of CORE PRINCIPLES over a short period of time reeks of fakery so much that you wonder what the real Mitt Romney believes. Would you defend a democrat if he or she changed and keeps changing his or her mind on such a plethora of issues? I doubt it.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Yes, well, we all know your feelings on amnesty and immigration, Arch. Whether we think a candidate’s position on an issue is egregious [note correct spelling] isn’t germane to this discussion.

    It’s Romney’s flagrant lying about the positions he used to hold that is egregious here (his ludicrous flip-flop on guns is another example).

    As I said before, I’ve got no problem with politicians doing an about-face per se. If no politician ever changed their mind about anything, what would be the point of democracy?

    But I do expect them to be honest about their opinions.

  • Chaz

    Thanks for outlining a true picture of Mitt. I really was confused by all of his position swapping these last few years. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to look at his smile, listen to a sound bite or two or what as I just couldn’t think clearly what the man stood for except smiling and had been a successful business man with a lot of sons. I do recall he has spent 20 million of his own cash to get his election going and he expects to take it all back from contributions. Smart business man. I do remember his no taxes stance in Massachusetts and having to pay huge increases in fees for registering my car, renewing my fishing license, driving license, excise on my car and a host of other fees. He didn’t raise taxes, only fees. I’m still scratching my head over that one. Also, wasn’t it his tour when the state said state tuition would not be raised in state colleges but the fees were raised to above the tuition costs? Mitt also said he would finish out his tour as governor of the state by working for the state. If I recall, didn’t he spend half of the time pre-stumping around the country the last 200 days of his term. Working for the state my ass. He did try to put a cute face on and pull the wool over all of the country’s faces. Thanks for writing a great article on that faker and exposing him for what he is. The king has no clothes on, or wasn’t King another republican governor of Massachusetts that was a fake?

  • Charlie

    Chaz: Thanks for the compliments. This article took a while for me to write and I could’ve spent even more time on it if I wanted to.

    And you’re absolutely right about state college fees going higher than tuition, as I saw my (and my brother’s) Umass-Boston bills skyrocket from 2002-2006 before I graduated. And don’t forget that property taxes went up a lot too, though I don’t have an exact figure. New governor Deval Patrick has said he’ll address that issue, but we’ll see.

  • Chaz

    LOL!

    It looks like Mitt Flipped and Flopped! (in NH)

  • Charlie

    UPDATE: The final flip-flop: Romney drops out of the race just a couple days after saying he’ll run ’til the Convention. As Gilda Redner would say, “Never mind!”