how friend and foe alike make careful note of Romney’s duplicity—on Santorum’s endorsement of Willard Milton Romney
“Last summer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani took time out of a GOP debate to defend John McCain: ‘I happen to be a very big admirer of Senator McCain and I can tell you quite honestly that if I weren’t running for President I would be here supporting him,’” writes the estimable Ana Marie Cox in a http://www.time.com article titled The ‘I Hate Romney’ Club
Pundits speculated that the praise was simply a kind word for the man whose campaign had recently exploded, plagued by debt and defections. Privately, McCain advisers wondered if Giuliani was playing nice in order to secure McCain’s endorsement after he dropped out of the race.
But this week it was Giuliani who dropped out of the race and endorsed McCain, praising him as an “American hero.”
The endorsement was a reflection of the authentic respect McCain and Giuliani have for each other. But that’s not all the two candidates share. The endorsement deal was solidifed when both campaigns stayed at the Deerfield Hilton in Florida, following the Republican debate in Boca Raton on January 24. The two campaigns’ staff mingled easily over drinks. Acknowledging that his candidate was not likely to survive a defeat in Florida, a Giuliani aide approached one of the McCain senior staffers. Come Wednesday, he said, “Just tell us what want us to do — we’ve got to stop him.”
“Him,” of course, is Mitt Romney, the candidate who seems to be uniting his Republican rivals almost as much as Hillary Clinton. “The degree to which campaigns’ personal dislike for Mitt Romney has played a part in this campaign cannot be underestimated,” says an adviser to one of those rival campaigns. While sharp words have been exchanged between practically every Republican candidate at one point or another on the campaign trail, the aversion to Romney seems to go beyond mere policy disagreements. It’s also a suspicion of what they see is his hypocrisy and essential phoniness — what one former staffer for Fred Thompson called Romney’s “wholesale reinvention” [...]
We predicted long ago that the other candidates would concert their efforts against Romney.
Back to Cox:
[...] But such jibes mask more substantive complaints that many of the candidates have about Romney. “What Romney has done,” says a Huckabee adviser, “he’s attacked people for positions he once held. That annoys people. And he uses his own money to do it, which rubs it in.” He’s gone after McCain on campaign finance reform (which he once supported), Huckabee on tax increases (Huckabee countered that Romney’s raised “fees” amounted to the same thing), and nearly all the candidates on immigration [...]
Romney’s duplicity and shameless ideological cross-dressing offends the other candidates—this is a persistant theme in the accumulating Romney literature. What is less persistent is the theme of Romney’s duplicity among those who support him. Yet former Sen. Rick Santorum—who now supports the hapless candidate, Romney—also notes Romney’s duplicity.
Here is Santorum himself as interviewed by Mark Hemingway in an NRO article titled Romney-Santorum 2008; The former senator makes his choice
[...] “I think Romney, when he decided to run, he’s a smart business guy, and he sort of got his team together and said, ‘What do I need to do to be the conservative candidate?’ and give me the checklist and see if I can check them off,” Santorum said. “And I think over the course of this campaign, you know, I saw the migration from the checklist to his head and from his head into his heart and I really believe that’s where he is today” [...]
Santorum’s account of Romney’s duplicity is, um, well, unique. Apparently, for Santorum, Romney is authentic precisely because of his cynical duplicity.
Yes, concedes Santorum, Romney began as a social progressive. But Romney could not win the GOP nomination as a social progressive. So, in advance of a national election, Romney developed a checklist of what it means to be a conservative and ran on it. This may seem cynical. And it is. But, insists Santorum, sometime during Romney’s hard campaigning the candidate’s newly adopted principles “migrated” from his “head” to his “heart.”
Over the course of Romney’scampaign? So Romney began his campaign flatly lying. But as he listened to himself campaigning hard for conservative issues, principles, and causes, he convinced himself? Does Santorum really mean to argue that somehow Romney managed to persuade himself even if many of the rest of us remain unconvinced?
Remember: it isn’t a lie if you truly believe it.
As for Santorum himself, Stephen F. Hayes of the weekly standard has this to say in an article titled Enemies to the right of him
[...] Although many others have been as critical of McCain, perhaps no one has been as hypocritical. In 2006, when Santorum was running for reelection, he asked McCain to come to Pennsylvania to campaign on his behalf. When McCain obliged, Santorum put the video on his campaign website, listing it first among “key events” of the year. That’s gratitude, Santorum-style [...]