WSJ: “Plenty of politicians attune their positions to new constituencies—The larger danger is that Mr. Romney’s conversions are not motivated by expediency or mere pandering but may represent his real governing philosophy”
“Mitt Romney has emerged as the last Republican with a chance to stop John McCain, and there’s no doubt he’s a candidate from central casting: successful in business and politics, a family man, and quicker and more articulate than most,” write the editors of the Wall Street Journal in an editorial titled Romney’s Convictions
The main doubt about him has been whether he believes in anything enough to stick to it if he did become President.To hear the candidate himself tell it, Mr. Romney believes above all in “data.” As he told us on a visit, his management style includes “wallowing” in data about a problem, analyzing that data like the business consultant he once was, and then using it to devise a solution. A major theme of his candidacy is that he’ll bring that business model to a “broken” Washington, apply it to Congress and the bureaucracy, and thus triumph over gridlock and the status quo.
To which we’d say: Good luck with that. Washington’s problem isn’t a lack of data, or a failure to calibrate the incentives as in the business world. Congress and the multiple layers of government respond exactly as you’d expect given the incentives for self-preservation and turf protection that always exist in political institutions. The only way to overcome them is with leadership on behalf of good ideas backed by public support. The fact that someone as bright as Mr. Romney doesn’t recognize this Beltway reality risks a Presidency that would get rolled quicker than you can say Jimmy Carter.
All the more so because we haven’t been able to discern from his campaign, or his record in Massachusetts, what his core political principles are. Mr. Romney spent his life as a moderate Republican, and he governed the Bay State that way after his election in 2002. While running this year, however, he has reinvented himself as a conservative from radio talk show-casting, especially on immigration.
The problem is not that Mr. Romney is willing to reconsider his former thinking. Nor is it so much that his apparent convictions always seem in sync with the audience to which he is speaking at the moment. (Think $20 billion in corporate welfare for Michigan auto makers.) Plenty of politicians attune their positions to new constituencies. The larger danger is that Mr. Romney’s conversions are not motivated by expediency or mere pandering but may represent his real governing philosophy [...]
[...] John McCain’s difficulties in selling himself to GOP voters reflect his many liberal lurches over the years — from taxes to free speech, prescription drugs and global warming cap and trade. Republicans have a pretty good sense of where he might betray them. Yet few doubt that on other issues — national security, spending — Mr. McCain will stick to his principles no matter the opinion polls. If Mr. Romney loses to Senator McCain, the cause will be his failure to persuade voters that he has any convictions at all [...]
We so heartily concur. See: