Romney tries to link his former campaign chair to Bill Clinton; all of America balks at the risible transparency of Romney’s attempt to distance himself

In his interview on CNBC’s Kudlow & Company (which will air later this afternoon), Mitt Romney had some sharp words for Sen. Larry Craig, who had endorsed the former Massachusetts governor’s presidential campaign and was his Idaho chairman. “Once again, we’ve found people in Washington have not lived up to the level of respect and dignity that we would expect for somebody that gets elected to a position of high influence. Very disappointing. He’s no longer associated with my campaign, as you can imagine… I’m sorry to see that he has fallen short,” reports NBC’s estimable Mark Murray in story titled Romney Links Craig with Bill Clinton.

Romney receives “briefing” from his Iowa campaign staff

Note the captious former governor’s bitter, angry cant, combined with his curt dismissal of what we were led to believe was a personal friend:

“He’s no longer associated with my campaign, as you can imagine… I’m sorry to see that he has fallen short.”

… as you can imagine … What does that mean, precisely?

Compare Romney’s rage with the deeply reasoned compassion of e.g.’s Toranto, who makes a larger point about the politics of hypocrisy:

The Craig conviction has, predictably enough, prompted mortification on the right and Schadenfreude on the left. The latter is an easy-to-understand partisan/ideological temptation, especially given the comical aspects of this story. It is physically impossible to keep a straight face while thinking about the “wide stance” defense.

That said, we’d like to step back and, without drawing any conclusions about Craig beyond what is on the public record, make a case more generally for liberal compassion toward closeted homosexual politicians who oppose gay rights.

The liberal view of homosexuality is based on two claims: an empirical one and a moral one. The empirical claim is that sexual orientation is inborn, a trait over which one has no control. The moral claim is that homosexuality is no better or worse than heterosexuality; that a gay relationship, like a traditional marriage, can be an expression of true love and a source of deep fulfillment. Out of these claims flows the conclusion that opposition to gay rights is akin to racism: an unwarranted prejudice against people for a trait over which they have no control.

For the sake of argument, suppose this liberal view is true. What does it imply about the closeted homosexual who takes antigay positions? To our mind, the implication is that he is a deeply tragic figure, an abject victim of society’s prejudices, which he has internalized and turned against himself. “Outing” him seems an act of gratuitous cruelty, not to mention hypocrisy if one also claims to believe in the right to privacy.

According to the Statesman, the blogger who “outed” Craig did so in order to “nail a hypocritical Republican foe of gay rights.” But there is nothing hypocritical about someone who is homosexual, believes homosexuality is wrong, and keeps his homosexuality under wraps. To the contrary, he is acting consistent with his beliefs. If he has furtive encounters in men’s rooms, that is an act of weakness, not hypocrisy.

Defenders of “outing” politicians argue that the cruelty is not gratuitous–that politicians are in a position of power, which they are using to harm gay citizens, and therefore their private lives are fair game. But if the politician in question is a mere legislator, his power consists only of the ability to cast one vote among hundreds. The actual amount of harm that he is able to inflict is minimal.

Anyway, most lawmakers who oppose gay-rights measures are not homosexual. To single out those who are for special vituperation is itself a form of antigay prejudice. Liberals pride themselves on their compassion, but often are unwilling to extend it to those with whose politics they disagree … more

Where is Romney’s compassion? Where is his humanity? Where is his concern for the dignity of his fallen friend? Has Romney never wrestled with a demon of his own?—if not, do we really want this man to be our president?

Did Romney not once defend and promote gay rights?

Priggish, canting, emotional brutality is a Romney signature. This is how Romney referred to the weaknesses of his own father:

Romney lashes out at his father for indecision even as Romney himself vacillates wildly

These are Romney’s remarks on the departure of the long-suffering Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as reported by WaPo’s web log, THE TRAIL.

“I believe the Attorney General made the right decision to step aside,” Romney said in a statement. “The resignation is an opportunity for President Bush to renew the nation’s commitment to the law enforcement officers and personnel who are dedicated to enforcing the rule of law and protecting the American people from the threat of terrorism around the globe.”

Remarking on Gonzales, Imam Romney simply must issue his own evaluation; he strikes the school-marmish pose of moral arbiter. Compare Romney’s cant with the quiet dignity that Giuliani affords Gonzales (again: from THE TRAIL):

Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani was more succint: “Judge Gonzales served his nation honorably and I wish him well in the next phase of his career.”

No judgement. No cant. Only the acknowledgment of a distinguished career of honourable service and a wish that the Judge prosper in the future.

Question: why does this admitted newcomer to conservative values—Romney—insist on lecturing, and passing judgment upon, the rest of us?

yours &c.


  1. 1 Oliver of Romney ultimate hypocrite and opportunist « who is willard milton romney?

    […] We echo Oliver’s analysis; see: Romney tries to link his former campaign chairman to Bill Clinton; all of America balks at the risib… […]

  2. 2 How Romney treats his friends: Craigs speaks out against Romney’s betrayal « who is willard milton romney?

    […] Romney tries to link his former campaign chair to Bill Clinton; all of America balks at the risible … […]

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