August 28, 2008
Posted by: Kevin
John McCain is expected to announce his running mate in the next 24 hours. The rising speculation from Republican and conservative circles is that it will be Mitt Romney, McCain's defeated foe from the primaries. Knowing how Republican activists and pundits operate, the buzz could be a combination of wishful thinking, bullpen calculations and a bit of actual intelligence from balloon-floating campaign aides. Who knows?
What is known for sure is that, besides McCain himself, no more than four or five of his aides know the name of his choice at this hour.
A couple things would be certain if the choice really is Mitt Romney. It would be the end of the road for McCain with a lot of gay Republicans, whose loathing of Romney is perhaps even more intense than for much of the Christian Right's various backbenchers, given his betrayal of a decade of strong public support for gay rights (and strong gay Republican support in return) once his ill-fated presidential campaign began. A Romney pick would also make a Log Cabin endorsement for McCain nearly impossible, despite the iron will among some hardline partisans within the organization to ensure an endorsement at almost any cost. From what I can measure picking Romney would be felt like a knife in the chest even by some of McCain's oldest and strongest admirers within Log Cabin.
It is also hard to imagine what good Romney would bring to McCain's presidential effort. He's a very wealthy man and a gigantic target by an increasingly populist Democratic Party, particularly among those looking to bring Hillary Clinton's working-class whites back into the fold. Perhaps Romney could help in his native Michigan, though it has been 40 years since his father was governor so one wonders how many voters today actually remember his father. Michigan has been hemorrhaging jobs so Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, where layoffs were sometimes part of the “turn around strategy” for good or bad, will cause problems among blue collar voters.
Also, Romney’s selection could only hurt in frighteningly vulnerable states for the GOP like Georgia, North Carolina and Mississippi, where Republican base voters are evangelical Christians whose petulant intolerance against "heretics" (like the Mormon former governor of Massachusetts) has been intensely stoked by their political leaders for too long to change course this late in the game. There are a lot of evangelical voters in the GOP fold who would rather vote for pro-choice Rudy Giuliani than for an adherent to a religion that many of them consider a cult. Political 'heresy' is very different from outright religious heresy to those folks.
Romney was also defeated in the primaries largely because of Republican unease with his oily shift on so many issues -- he was a pro-choice, pro-gay reformist 1994 Senate candidate and governor from 2002 to 2006 who suddenly pirouetted into a staunchly anti-gay, anti-abortion midwesterner before he even left the statehouse in Boston. He leapt on the anti-gay-marriage train so severely and eagerly that he gleefully self-immolated in Boston to foist his martyrdom aloft for all the Red States to see. It won him enough calculating Republican activists to gain traction in some of the primaries, and to generate lots of buzz, but McCain and Mike Huckabee tore at his flanks from both sides fairly easily right out of the gate and Romney was stopped.
Picking Romney would also raise more doubts about McCain's own beliefs, especially among his most fanatical primary supporters who bitterly fought Romney in every state they contested. The McCainiacs were fighting against a man who came to represent the worst aspects of a post-Bush GOP establishment: an empty suit, a weirdly naive and creepily clean-cut face ready to believe anything and do anything to win. It would also cement a disturbing transformation inside McCain himself. For a man, whose great appeal has been rooted in his maverick instincts, to choose Romney as his running mate at this moment of triumph would be perplexing and confusing to independent voters, who shunned Romney in the primaries. And that could cost McCain the margin he desperately needs to hold in November.
Whoever McCain picks, the reasons behind it, and the strategy it will come to represent, should become very clear over the weekend as the campaign rolls out its ticket in a battleground state tour that will end up in Minneapolis. We'll be seeing the final touches being placed on the real campaign that will be unfolding over the coming months.
Here's hoping the campaign isn't over by this time tomorrow. Those of us who remain undecided have fairly open minds, but not that open.
February 07, 2008
Posted by: Kevin
Today, Mitt Romney gave up his effort to lead a soulless borg of hacks into power in Washington, and the gay community is better off for it. If nothing else, all those people that he flipped-off to launch his flop of a presidential campaign can rejoice -- he was taken down.
And he was taken down by a candidate who is seen as enemy number one by anti-gay monsters like James Dobson and Pat Buchanan. John McCain is the anti-borg; he's a man who inspires Democrats and independents because he revels in telling the psychotic wing of the Republican Party that it can eat shit. (And I think that's actually a quote...) Regardless of whether any of us should vote for him in November, it is clearly a welcome development for the GOP and for gays in general. (Log Cabin Republicans are celebrating, and with good reason. They had a score to settle with Romney, and a message to send to any GOP gay rights supporters that there will be pain if you flip-flop on our issues.)
Now, with the GOP race decided, it's time to go after the other corrosive element that is holding our community back politically. It's time to take out Hillary Clinton, and the soul-crushing hack-o-rama that she and her husband are gathering off the coast to lead back into power.
A McCain-Clinton race would be the worst of all worlds. Clinton will have to "run to the middle", and in the universe of the Clintons that means throwing gays overboard on just about everything except the most antiseptic, unnecessary fluff of rhetoric and no action. And their surrogates (e.g. the Human Rights Campaign) will microtarget the same tired Elizabeth Birchian message that if gays don't vote for Hillary, masked gunmen will essentially break into their houses the day after the election and march them off to camps. (And, as so many of us are just as dumb as any other machine demographic, it will work with a lot of gay voters.)
Hillary will drone on and on about nothing during the general election campaign, slowly beginning to resemble the sound of an adult speaking in a Peanuts animated cartoon, and leave McCain a wide berth to simply point to her and say, "I'm not that." The end. No debate, no pressure and no oxygen for gay issues.
However, an Obama-McCain race is the one that the borgs dread like a vampire dreads the sunlight. What seems clear now is that it would be a race that would smash all the usual claptrap of machine politics and test the limits of the left-right, Democrat-Republican, conservative-liberal continuum. They are honorable men with ideas, spiritual groundings and true charisma, but they are also men with flaws, weak spots and shortcomings.
I can't imagine McCain ever embracing the rhetoric of the anti-gay movement, or the cowardly cavings to groups like Focus on the Family. He has taken some brave moves, like voting against the Federal Marriage Amendment, and speaking against it on the floor. But on a wider range of legislative issues that have come up, like ENDA, he has stubbornly stood aside for a long time. Obama has been called by many, including Chris, as the best candidate on gay issues. I confess that even I am taken by his soaring speeches, and not just on gay issues but even on the war and the economy. He is like booze - tastes great, and makes me almost forget what my convictions are. Dangerous, but not necessarily in a bad way. Who knows? But no matter how taken any of us might be with Obama, let's not forget that this man is a novice. And the presidency is the most awesome office in the world, especially now. It's not just the prize on the season finale of a reality show.
So, let's table the question on the vote in November for now, and unite behind this important principle -- it's time to annihilate the machine politics that have held the gay movement back for too long. Romney has been stopped. Time to stop Hillary.
Then we can have the race we deserve as a community, and as a nation.
February 01, 2008
Posted by: Kevin
With the exit of Rudy Giuliani, who by any reasonable account was the biggest gay rights supporter to ever have a decent shot at the GOP nomination for president, a lot of air has come out of the balloon for gay Republicans this cycle. What comes next is still a very open question.
Some things are very clear. The vast majority of gay Republicans I know were either declared or undeclared Giuliani supporters, many of them registered on his delegate slates to the GOP convention. That was logical. He was a Republican worth fighting for in the gay community for many years. I backed his mayoral campaigns in 1993 and 1997, and I was lucky enough to speak with him a few times during my time on staff at Log Cabin Republicans. At an event after the 1997 election, I saw him get booed at a high school in Queens because he had proposed an expansive domestic partnership law for same-sex couples after the election. He didn't blink, and he lectured the hecklers about respect for people who are different, and why it made not only New York a great city, but America a great country. I marched with him down Fifth Avenue on many a Gay Pride Day. I never dreamed he'd run for president. And just from the level of vitriol and attacks the partisan New York gay Democratic hacks stirred up from the moment he announced (if you understand New York City politics at all), you can be sure Rudy was indeed a stand-out Republican on our issues.
Right off, as the campaign got serious, he started hedging on some important things. It was very disappointing. And it wasn't excusable. Had his primary election strategy succeeded (i.e. had John McCain vanished early), he would have had to answer to the gay community, not the least of whom his many, many gay supporters, for his equivocations. I was betting that he would come clean and be with us forthrightly before November. But that's in the what-if category now.
The other sure thing is that Mitt Romney must be stopped. He is, embodied in one man, everything that is reprehensible and destructive inside the Republican Party of which I am a member. Romney's lies and flip-flops on gay issues run the gamut so widely that he literally should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most heinous backtracking on more gay issues than any other politician in history. But it goes beyond our community. Mitt Romney has shown that he is not only incompetent as a potential commander-in-chief (see his laughable answers in the last debate), but he is willing to say or do anything to get ahead politically, and the combination of the two at this moment in time could lead to the worst imaginable consequences for the world. Romney in the White House is just a dangerous, frightening concept to imagine.
Mike Huckabee is already a footnote in the race, and given the fact that he depended on a lot of rabidly anti-gay supporters to even peak his head out in this election it would be ridiculous to think we could count on him to be rational on gay issues. His last minute, pre-Mega Tuesday fumbling to sound tolerant in San Francisco is more a sign of him being lost on the road to oblivion than anything else.
And then there is John McCain. He's a man I also supported very strongly in 2000 before he was knocked out of the race. I also got to talk to him on occasion in my old career, and the balls he showed to Karl Rove, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell alone in the 2000 campaign will always make me proud to call him a friend. The fact that many on the anti-gay right have said they hate him so much they'd vote for Hillary instead of him, frankly, is because his contempt for their politics is real. But it isn't 2000 anymore. And McCain is not with us on a lot of issues, even if he's with us gay Republicans on the fight against a common enemy. In the end, the enemy-of-my-enemy adage just doesn't cut it anymore. It's not good for HRC's boot-licking of the Democratic Party, or to let the Clinton Borg hack-o-rama off the hook for their uselessness. So it can't be the reason for voting for McCain for president in November either. He's going to have to do more.
It's only February, yes. But stay tuned. If you haven't noticed, gay Republicans don't fit neatly into any box, despite the relentless trashing that we get from a few trolling gay lefties on the internet. We're also not represented by a wide measure by friends of mine like Bruce Carroll, founder of GayPatriot, who despite my strong affection for him as a longtime friend, sometimes scares me with the intensity of his devotion to leaders who are unmistakably and unabashedly unreachable on whether gays should have any equality under the law now or ever.
The 2008 election has the chance of being a real party-bender of major proportions, depending on who emerges from the ashes of the primaries. With the gays, too. I'm not close to deciding who'd I'd want in November myself. But if the gay blogosphere is any indicator, don't be surprised if a surprising number of other gay Republicans decide to make history and get behind a man who (I must confess) has inspired many of us more profoundly than we expected, and has us all considering our options more widely than we'd ever considered before.
And I'm not talking about Mike Bloomberg.
January 30, 2008
Posted by: Chris
Edwards' departure obviously clarifies the Democratic race, though it's anybody's guess whether it will benefit Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. The North Carolina senator ran on the ideological left of the field, a contrast from his Senate voting record and his 2004 persona. If his supporters are similarly inclined, then Obama may benefit because voters perceive him (probably correctly) as more liberal than Clinton -- especially on the Iraq War.
Obama will obviously also benefit by consolidating the "anybody but Hillary" folks. As much as I have grown to dislike Hillary in this campaign, I do not count myself among that crowd. If Obama had dropped out, I would have probably swung Hillary's way -- because Edwards' "journey" on gay rights and other issues struck me as only slightly more genuine that Mitt Romney's trip the contrary direction, and Edwards' proximity to trial lawyers and trade unions is anathema to me.
On the Republican side, Giuliani's non-starter of a campaign was a huge disappointment to many social moderates in the party. The only bright side is that few analysts are blaming his failure on his left-leaning social views, although those and his messey personal life no doubt were to blame in part for why he never caught fire in Iowa or New Hampshire and ended up bailing on both.
His departure from the campaign puts gay-friendly moderates in a bind. Mike Huckabee is obviously a non-starter, except for those who believe that nominating the least electable candidate is the best political strategy. My own view is that he's only staying at this point because he knows that many of his evangelical backers would likely flock to Romney, whom Huckabee clearly disdains. There's also plenty of speculation that Huckabee is bucking to be McCain's running mate, although I find that unlikely, even though it might help the ticket with evangelicals and in the South.
John McCain is portrayed as the remaining moderate in the race, and the label fits well on issues like finance reform, immigration, torture, tax cuts -- where he can be a GOP maverick. His famous willingness to "reach across the aisle" has never extended to social issues, even though it doesn't appear he cares particularly much about them. Despite his "agents of intolerance" broadside against the religious right in 2000, McCain has consistently opposed even basic, bipartisan gay rights legislation like employment non-discrimination and hate crimes protection.
McCain has opposed on federalism grounds a federal marriage amendment, something both Romney and Huckabee support. But the president doesn't get a vote on constitutional amendments, and the whole idea will be in political nowheresville after the Democrats solidify their control of Congress in November.
Romney presents something of an enigma. He was targeted by Log Cabin (on non-gay issues) because of the way he reinvented himself on a whole host of social issues to adapt to a more conservative GOP primary electorate. It's a fair question to ask which Romney is closer to his actual core, the moderate Massachusetts governor or the conservative presidential candidate. After all, when John Kerry tacked to the right in 2004, few believed his newfound views were truly his own; why shouldn't we wonder the same about Romney?
The newly conservative Romney as a nominee would at least present voters a clearer choice between the parties than McCain would. My dream matchup, actually, would be Romney against Obama, since the former's mean-spirited, take-no-prisoners negative campaigning is the perfect contrast to Obama's "new politics." There's a reason why Obama soared when the Clintons went harshly negative, and I believe those tactics would backfire especially with independents even more explosively on Romney.
January 24, 2008
Posted by: Chris
The Onion did sarcarm before Jon Stewart made it cool…
Hat tip: Blog Cabin
January 23, 2008
Posted by: Chris
From this report by Southern Voice on outreach by the presidential campaigns to gay voters in Georgia comes this gem from Georgia Log Cabin Republican President Jamie Ensley:
Ensley has met Romney and Giuliani at their campaign stops in Atlanta and described very different reactions from the candidates.
When he introduced himself to Romney as the president of Georgia’s LCR, Ensley said Romney “looked like a deer caught in headlights, and then mumbled something awkwardly and smiled. I told our national office after meeting him that if Gov. Romney is the answer, then it was a stupid question.”
Jamie is a friend and the first banker to give some cred to a fledgling Window Media some 11 years ago. I can just hear that Georgia drawl when I read that quote, and I'm happy to hear he's around and as quippy as ever.
January 22, 2008
Posted by: Kevin
This morning, there is a palpable sense of panic across all the world's financial markets. It can't be ignored by anyone. Certainly, if you're an investor, a homeowner or you own a business, it's likely you're already hurting. But from a purely political sense, is the economic crisis good or bad for gay issues in this election season? Does it factor in at all?
Strangely enough, at first glance seems that economic downturns have been good for gays in recent election campaigns, while booming economic times have been largely bad.
It's conventional wisdom that when people are worried about their jobs or their pocketbooks, they don't really want to hear about homosexuals, abortions or the ACLU. Blaming gays or abortionists for the loss of one's job just doesn't wash, but someone who comes across as the one who cares the most about your job loss will get room to be nice to other people, even the gays. In boom times, when the average voter is content and fairly disinterested in voting, both sides tend to throw cultural bombs to turn out their bases in a zero-sum game. That's when the pitchforks tend to come out for us.
The 1992 presidential campaign was seminal for gay rights as a national campaign issue, at least where gays were at once condemned and courted. The U.S. economy was lurching into a recession as the primaries began that year, which launched the populist campaign of Pat Buchanan through his crushing defeat of incumbent President George H.W. Bush in New Hampshire. Polling showed that Buchanan's harsh, angry economic message pitched to those most harmed by the economic downturn helped fuel his victory there, and built a national sense of resentment against Bush. However, when that message expanded into lurid far right cultural attacks on gays, 'feminists', immigrants and pro-choice voters, it ran out of steam with the general public. The momentum of Buchanan's insurgency culminated at the horrendously anti-gay 1992 Republican National Convention, which the GOP never recovered from.
As the economy worsened, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot seized the middle ground and captured the public's concern with economic visions for change. Clinton ultimately connected with the middle on their economic fears ("it's the economy, stupid"), which gave him room to make an unprecedented play for gays, making a list of promises unheard of by a leading presidential candidate in history. By all accounts, Clinton won that election on the basis of earning the trust of a nation worried about its wallet. The gays, in political terms, won along with him.
From March 2000 to October 2002, the dot-com crash shook the world economy. It didn't have the same impact on average Americans the way the '92 recession did (or the current mortgage meltdown has), but it hit dynamic tech sectors very hard and raised fears about the long-term solvency of Social Security as the baby boom generation began to age. There was a budget surplus and plenty of room for the nation to maneuver. In the end, both sides were faced with making the argument as to who was better at making those maneuvers against the looming end to good economic times.
It boiled down to "who do you trust?" and "who is the better leader?", factors that see-sawed all year between the two. And it devolved into a war over the favor of independent voters. This meant both Al Gore and George W. Bush had to blur and bland-out anything that independents would view as "sharp edges."
Gore boldly chose conservative (then-) Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Bush, the "compassionate conservative", took hits nationally for going too far to the right in South Carolina in his struggle to eliminate insurgent Senator John McCain; weeks later, Bush met with gay Republicans and said he was "a better person" for it. Both parties had openly gay speakers at their conventions in prime time (Elizabeth Birch for the Democrats, Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) for the GOP). Meanwhile, an anti-gay third-party campaign by a diminished Pat Buchanan fell completely flat.
Critics will argue that neither the 1992 or 2000 elections resulted in a sea-change of positive federal legislation for gay Americans. In fact, the Clinton presidency brought openly gay appointments, the first White House gay liaison (who was straight), pride day proclamations and favorable speeches, but it also brought "don't ask, don't tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act. Bush's presidency brought the first (two) openly gay national AIDS directors at the White House, a historic global program to fight HIV/AIDS, the first federal anti-gay hate crimes prosecution case (which was later dropped for lack of evidence), as well as its own smaller list of gay appointees. But Bush's presidency also launched the Federal Marriage Amendment to the top of the agenda, creating a cataclysmic split with gay Republicans and setting off an ugly campaign of "outing" closeted gays that (so far has) ended the political careers of two Members of Congress and soon a U.S. Senator. Both presidents also lost majorities in Congress they enjoyed early in their terms.
So what might the current economic crisis do for gays? Follow the jump for more…
January 15, 2008
Posted by: Chris
After deeply disappointing second-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney finally got the "gold medal" in today's Michigan primaries. He exponentially outspent his opponents and reinvented himself as a social conservative, only to be rejected in favor of a low-budget evangelical (Mike Huckabee) and a "straight-talking" moderate conservative (John McCain).
Finally, tonight, Romney got his big win and in the numbers is a glimpse of the appealing candidacy he could have offered GOP primary voters. Michigan voters ranked the economy as more important than the Iraq war and terrorism and went for Romney, the only candidate with experience as a successful businessman.
When Romney the management consultant was planning his presidential bid, he never imagined the economy would be the priority and so lurched to the right politically, destroying his credibility with voters generally and ultimately losing to Huckabee, the Southern Baptist former governor of Arkansas, who is the real deal.
A central part of that Romney reinvention was disclaiming his moderate gay rights record, of course, reversing himself on workplace protections, repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell," supporting Gay Pride events and famously promising that he would be a more effective advocate for gay rights in the U.S. Senate than Ted Kennedy. Had he stuck to those guns, it's unlike he would have split evangelical voters evenly with Huckabee, as he did in Michigan today, but he would have more than made up the difference by offering Republican voters a proven track record on economic issues the other candidates couldn't touch.
Now that Romney has finally won, the other big winner is clearly Rudy Giuliani, as I predicted earlier in the week. How ironic, then, that he has enabled a GOP rival who -- while tacking to the right as expected -- has not tried to utterly discard a moderate record on gay rights, abortion and other hot-button social issues.
January 13, 2008
Posted by: Chris
I haven't posted a complete write-up comparing the Republican presidential candidates on gay rights -- as I did on the Democrats -- but suffice to say that he's right down there at the bottom with Mike "Quarantine the Queers" Huckabee. And yet a victory for Mitt Romney in next Tuesday's Michigan primary could be a very good thing for those hoping for better -- from both parties.
John McCain is riding a huge wave of momentum from his "comeback senior" victory in New Hampshire -- surpassing Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani in national surveys and even beginning to challenge in South Carolina, the state that sunk his 2000 presidential bid.
A McCain nomination is the most dangerous for two reasons: first, he's demonstrably worse on gay rights than Rudy Giuliani, who at least favors workplace rights and hate crime laws and (in theory) open service in the military. McCain is on the other side of all three issues, and is only more "compassionate" than the current conservative in the White House because he opposes on federalism grounds a federal marriage amendment. The Jan. 29 Florida primary is do or die for Rudy, and yet he's slipped behind McCain -- in a 30-point shift between the two -- in one new poll there. The Arizona senator is even challenging Giuliani in New York!
Second, McCain is a much bigger threat than Romney and certainly Huckabee in the general election. Polls show that only McCain beats both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in many of the "purple" battleground states that will decide things in November. Those polls are premature, of course, and there's plenty of time to remind voters that McCain was among the most ardent supporters of the war in Iraq -- although his prescient support for "the surge" is responsible for his campaign second coming.
With those two factors in mind, it's encouraging to see Romney actually maintain a survey lead somewhere -- even if it is his home state of Michigan. Two new polls out this weekend put him 5 to 8 points ahead of McCain, with Huckabee another 5 percentage points behind. A 1-2-3 finish like that would give all three candidates a claim at joint frontrunner status, keeping the race jumbled going into South Carolina on Saturday and Florida at the end of the month.
It makes sense that Romney would do well in Michigan, especially if he focuses on his business background in a state that always worries more about the economy. If he's successful there, it would provide an interesting look of the campaign that could have been -- had Romney not chosen to reinvent himself as an social conservative and instead run as a successful businessman and governor.
January 07, 2008
Posted by: Chris
What's next? Romney rapping about his general election prospects vs. Barack?
January 06, 2008
Posted by: Chris
Four years ago Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman used gay marriage as a wedge issue some say was decisive in key states like Ohio, giving George Bush a second term. History may repeat itself, but this time around it may cut the other way, too:
Mitt Romney says he won't win his home state in November if he is the Republican nominee for president. Asked Thursday in a radio interview if he would prevail in Massachusetts in a match-up with Senator Clinton, … Mr. Romney told Sean Hannity that natives of the Bay State and some other liberal states would never go for a candidate like him.
"They vehemently disagree with the fact that I'm pro life. They disagree with the fact that I'm opposed to same sex marriage. Those two issues for many people in some states overwhelm who can build our economy better, who understands our foreign policy better, who understands how to strengthen America for our future."
Whatever happened to the claim that judges imposed gay marriage on Massachusetts? I guess Mitt Romney is flip-flopping on that one, too.
January 05, 2008
Posted by: Chris
…Barack Obama is well-spoken for a black man.
No word yet on whether Mitt thinks Barack is "bright and clean" as well.
December 27, 2007
Posted by: Chris
Poor Mitt Romney just can't flip without flopping. In a cynical ploy to win over social conservatives, Romney has beat a well-documented retreat from a whole host of moderate positions, including a number of gay rights issues. But one mini-flip popped up in his recent appearance on "Meet the Press" and got little notice amidst all the giant policy reversals:
MR. RUSSERT: You say you'd be a more effective leader on gay rights than Ted Kennedy.
GOV. ROMNEY: And, and let me--let's, let's do them one by one. OK, Tim? Let's just go through them one by one. And, and here's my view. I don't believe in discriminating against someone based upon their sexual orientation. And so I would be effective in trying to bring greater recognition of the, of the rights of people not, not to be discriminated against. Let me...
MR. RUSSERT: You said--you said that you would co-sponsor the...
GOV. ROMNEY: Tim, Tim, Tim...
MR. RUSSERT: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. This is important.
GOV. ROMNEY: OK, fine.
MR. RUSSERT: You said that you would sponsor the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. Do you still support it?
GOV. ROMNEY: At the state level. I think it makes sense at the state level for states to put in provision of this.
MR. RUSSERT: Now, you said you would sponsor it at the federal level.
GOV. ROMNEY: I would not support at the federal level, and I changed in that regard because I think that policy makes more sense to be evaluated or to be implemented at the state level. And let me describe why.
MR. RUSSERT: So you did--you did change.
GOV. ROMNEY: Oh, Tim, if you're looking for someone who's never changed any positions on any policies, then I'm not your guy.
Most civil rights regulation of the workplace is at the federal level, which makes this particular flip-flop particularly transparent. The primary practical difference is that regulating at the state level takes it out of the president's responsibilities, allowing Romney to promise (as surely he has to social conservatives) that he will not support any type of federal protection based on sexual orientation.
But it wasn't enough for at least one anti-gay leader, Peter Labarbera of Americans for Truth, since in punting the issue for Congress and the president Romney still sounds like he's supportive of state-level protections. LaBarbera has separately launched a group called Republicans for Family Values -- no doubt to preserve AFT's tax status -- on whose behalf he says this:
“Mitt Romney’s Christmas present to the homosexual lobby disqualifies him as a pro-family leader,” LaBarbera said. “Laws that treat homosexuality as a civil right are being used to promote homosexual ‘marriage,’ same-sex adoption and pro-homosexuality indoctrination of schoolchildren. These same laws pose a direct threat to the freedom of faith-minded citizens and organizations to act on their religious belief that homosexual behavior is wrong.”
LaBarbera said it is “inconceivable after Massachusetts’ twin disasters involving homosexual ‘marriage’ and homosexual adoption that Romney now is recommending pro-homosexual ‘orientation’ laws –– long derided as “special rights” among social conservatives — to the rest of the nation.
That's the thing about transparently political flip flips; they are unlikely to satisfy anyone because they're not based on core principles. How ironic that a man who wears his faith -- albeit in generic Christian form -- on his sleeve turns out to be the biggest moral relativist in the race -- from either political party.
December 22, 2007
Posted by: Chris
Anyone supporting Mitt Romney or considering doing so should read this first. In the same week where Romney went on "Meet the Press" and tried to spin his way through his reversal on a dizzying array of issues, he's now trying to dissemble his way out of a whopper from his big religion speech.
From MSNBC on Thursday:
Romney says that it depends on what the definition of "saw" is.
A defensive Romney was peppered with questions today on exactly what he meant when he said -- most recently on "Meet the Press" -- that he "saw" his father march with Martin Luther King Jr. Recent articles have indicated that his father, the late Michigan Gov. George Romney, didn't march with the civil-rights leader.
Admitting that he didn't see the march with his own eyes, he said, "I 'saw' him in the figurative sense."
"The reference of seeing my father lead in civil rights," he said, "and seeing my father march with Martin Luther King is in the sense of this figurative awareness of and recognition of his leadership."
"I've tried to be as accurate as I can be," he continued, smiling firmly. "If you look at the literature or look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes being aware of -- in the sense I've described."
If this is Mitt Romney "trying to be as accurate as he can be," then that says something about Mitt Romney. The story itself isn't particularly consequential, but that's exactly the point. If he will exaggerate the facts on something small, and then not admit error when he is caught dead to rights for doing so, it raises serious questions about how he would handle bigger whoppers, or just plain mistakes.
The New York Times actually put together a collection of Romney's exaggerations -- "Romney learns that 'facts are stubborn things'"-- which bring to mind Al Gore's famous claims to having invented the Internet, etc. But Gore wasn't also under scrutiny for having reinvented himself to run for national political office. Between the flip-flops and the fibs and the dissembling, Mitt Romney comes across as not only lacking in integrity, but as a bit of an empty suit.
December 18, 2007
Posted by: Chris
I'm separating out my Editor's Pick from the GNW 5 from now on so the posts aren't so long. My choice this time is Mitt Romney's appearance on "Meet The Press" on Sunday (video here, transcript here).
- "Romney insists he'll stick to anti-gay, abortion views": QUICK LOOK: Republican Mitt Romney sought Sunday to deflect charges that he is a flip-flopper, insisting he had learned from experience and could be counted on to keep his campaign... (MORE)
The hour-long interview did nothing to dispel his image as a craven politician willing to say or do almost anything to win office. As usual, Tim Russert was methodical and relentleess, eschewing all talk of the horse race by going point by point through all the issue areas where Romney had flip-flopped: abortion, gun control, immigration, gay rights, health care, taxes and the list goes on.
Romney is smart and articulate and had explanations for each position change, but none was satisfactory and the cumulative effect was devastating. Here was a businessman-turned-politician who treats his policy views as the equivalent of a corporate marketing strategy. If the target market changes, so does the pitch. Every politician engages in some of that, and Bill Clinton is at least partially right that Barack Obama has the advantage of being so new to the national stage that he hasn't had to do so on the big issues of the day. But Romney is the worst in recent memory.
The clincher for me, and it surprises me that Russert didn't pick up on it, was near the end of the hour-long interview, when Romney tried to move to the offensive, constrasting his "evolution" on stem cell research with what he claims was a 180 by Hillary Clinton:
In terms of funding, I think the best source of our funding application should be in what are known as alternative methods. And this just recent. I've been, as you know, fighting for this for some time. But this recently saw a major breakthrough with direct reprogramming of, of human adult cells to become stem cells that can be very potent cells applied to help cure disease and, and serious conditions.
Now, interestingly, Hillary Clinton voted for these alternative method technologies when she was first faced with it. But then as she became a presidential candidate, she was one of 28 to vote against alternative methods. She put politics ahead of people.
You get that? A man who has changed his mind more times than he has made it up tells us, when he sees a similar "evolution" in someone else, that she "put politics ahead of people." It takes one to know one, Governor Romney.
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December 08, 2007
Posted by: Chris
Mitt Romney's speech Thursday about how his Mormonism would, and wouldn't, inform him as president was both stirring and depressing, and two columns for the New York Times set it just right. The editorial board, clearly not friendly to Romeney's conservative candidacy, was predictably harsh:
Mr. Romney spoke with an evident passion about the hunger for religious freedom that defined the birth of the nation. He said several times that his faith informs his life, but he would not impose it on the Oval Office.
Still, there was no escaping the reality of the moment. Mr. Romney was not there to defend freedom of religion, or to champion the indisputable notion that belief in God and religious observance are longstanding parts of American life. He was trying to persuade Christian fundamentalists in the Republican Party, who do want to impose their faith on the Oval Office, that he is sufficiently Christian for them to support his bid for the Republican nomination. No matter how dignified he looked, and how many times he quoted the founding fathers, he could not disguise that sad fact.
Romney's ongoing attempt to present himself as something he's not -- in this case an evangelical conservative -- is disgusting enough. But conservative Times columnist David Brooks pointed out an even greater contradiction in Romney's address, noting that he was essentially blending "an argument for religious liberty with an argument for religious assertiveness."
How can Romney argue for religious freedom at the same time his central pitch is to social conservatives who want to impose their particular religious beliefs through the force of law? Brooks also pointed out, to my surprise, that arguing from freedom among religions but not from religion leaves out another group: the non-religious:
When this country was founded, James Madison envisioned a noisy public square with different religious denominations arguing, competing and balancing each other’s passions. But now the landscape of religious life has changed. Now its most prominent feature is the supposed war between the faithful and the faithless. Mitt Romney didn’t start this war, but speeches like his both exploit and solidify this divide in people’s minds. The supposed war between the faithful and the faithless has exacted casualties.
The first casualty is the national community. Romney described a community yesterday. Observant Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews and Muslims are inside that community. The nonobservant are not. There was not even a perfunctory sentence showing respect for the nonreligious.
All these contradictions aren't just features of Romney's presidential campaign; they are central to modern-day social conservativism. But Romney has so bastardized his past beliefs in an effort to court favor with evangelical and fundamentlist Christians, there is some additional satisfaction in seeing him surpassed in Iowa and nationally by Mike Huckabee, who is at least the real McCoy.
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