Boyd on Romney: “I have no idea how we are supposed to figure out what [Romney truly believes] based on the available information about [Romney]”—how Romney’s ideological cross-dressing, and his flat refusal to address it, baffles voters and analysts alike
MITT ROMNEY’S CHEST IS NOT TRANSPARENT, argues Sam Boyd on The American Prospect’s TAPPED.
At the end of an otherwise compelling analysis of last night’s Republican presidential debate on TNR’s new campaign blog, Noam Scheiber has this to say about Mitt Romney:
There are obvious tactical reasons for Romney to run as a conservative. But sometimes you can’t help wishing he’d run more authentically — as the moderate technocrat he is at heart.
The context is a discussion of McCain, Romney, Thompson and Giuliani’s attempts to deal with their embarrassingly non-crazy policy histories. But why should we assume that Romney’s moderate record is in any way more representative of his true beliefs (if he has any) than his current support for Conservative orthodoxy? Maybe he saw his middle of the road policies in Massachusetts as the best he could do in a deeply liberal state. Primarily, this points to opportunism, but, if we actually believe, as Scheiber does, that there is in fact some moral belief about the true best government deep in Romney’s heart, I have no idea how we are supposed to figure out what that is based on the available information about him … etc., etc.
The emphasis is ours.
Boyd articulates our own concerns. Our position as it has evolved on this blog is consonant with Scheiber’s: we tend to believe that Romney is a center-left technocrat attempting to position himself as some species of conservative. We base this less on Romney’s history of governing from the center-left and more on Romney’s so-called conservative positions, positions that are strangely naive, caricatured, or unreconstructed, the sorts of positions you would expect someone who is not a conservative to assume that a conservative would accept. Here are but a few of the examples that we have chronicled here:
- Romney: “I like the idea of linking the level of support that we’re able to provide to young people going to college to the contributions they’re going to make to our society”
- the reviews are in: Romney’s “grandstanding” about Ahmadinejad ineffective, counterproductive
- Romney dangerously confused on issues of deterrence and defense
But Boyd is right. We enjoy no privileged access to the dark heart and troubled soul of Willard Milton Romney. So we are forced to concede that “we have no idea how we are supposed to figure out what [Romney’s true beliefs are] based on the available information about him.”
For us this is in itself is a sufficient argument against a Romney presidency.
Even so, Romney still wants to insist that he is a “consistent conservative.”