Posts Tagged ‘byron york’

[…] “When Romney tried to present himself as the most conservative of conservative candidates — remember when he said, playing on Paul Wellstone’s old line, that he represented “the Republican wing of the Republican party”? — a lot of conservatives in Iowa and South Carolina and beyond didn’t quite know what to think,” writes Byron York in an NRO article titled Why Romney Failed; Where was he coming from? Voters never really knew

When they saw video of him in the fall of 2002 — not that long ago, during a debate in his run for Massachusetts governor — vowing to “preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose” five times in a relatively brief period of time, they didn’t quite know what to think. When they saw video of him almost indignantly saying that “I wasn’t a Ronald Reagan conservative” and “Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan/Bush; I am not trying to return to Reagan/Bush” — they didn’t quite know what to think. And when they read the letter he wrote saying he would “seek to establish full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens” even more than Ted Kennedy, they didn’t quite know what to think.

Romney’s run from his past left a lot of voters asking: Who is this guy? He says he believes certain things deeply now, but he believed other things deeply not that long ago. And each time, it seems, his deeply-held beliefs jibed with what was most advantageous politically.

And now that he has left the Republican race, the question remains. What was Romney thinking? No one outside a very, very tight circle knows. He is an extraordinarily disciplined man, and during the campaign he applied that discipline to making sure that he never said anything too revealing or that might be taken the wrong way. So if you were a reporter, or a supporter, or anyone other than his wife and perhaps his children, and you thought that Romney revealed something special and private to you, you were most likely wrong.

Given that, no one knew what meant the most to Romney. What were the core values that lay deep inside him, things that meant so much that he would give up everything for them? Voters want to know that about a president; they piece together an answer by watching a candidate over time. With Romney it was hard to tell, so they were left to guess. For what it’s worth, my guess is that at the core of Romney’s being is his church and his family; if Romney were asked to surrender all his worldly success for them, he would […]

Church and family?—where does wanting to be our president come in?

Anyway, we harped on this weary string for months.

Balz: “it is difficult to sum up exactly what [Romney’s] candidacy is based upon and exactly who [Romney] is”

And yet the National Review endorsed this inscrutible non-entity.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“A few moments ago, I spoke to someone in the Romney camp,” writes Byron York of NRO’s The Corner in a blog burst titled Romney Pulling Out? Campaign Doesn’t Want “To Look Destructive At What Might Be The End.”

Would I be crazy to read that into the email traffic? “You would not be crazy to read that into it,” he said. “There have been a lot of discussions going on about whether there is a path to victory, and not wanting to look destructive at what might be the end. You are reading the right thing into it.”

Update: It’s official, Gov. Romney to withdraw.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[…] “Over in Michigan, the Republican voters clearly had the same thought on Tuesday when they went out and gave their primary win to a candidate absolutely no one would want to have a beer with,” writes Gail Collins in an NYT editorial titled The Anti-Charm Offensive

(Or in his case, a bracing lemonade.) Mitt Romney! Mitt Romney!Michigan voters are so frightened of falling into permanent economic collapse that they’ll grab onto almost anything. Romney, the native son who lived in Michigan in the Eisenhower era, played them for all they were worth. He was going to bring back the old-time auto industry and the rest of the 1950s with it. There was no lost job that could not be retrieved under Mitt’s skilled-businessman’s supervision. He’d bring them all home!

Human nature being what it is, you have to give politicians a pass for one pander per primary. (The Democrats have spent the last week in Nevada arguing about who is the most against a federal plan to store used nuclear fuel in Yucca Mountain as if it were a plot to tax air.) But in Michigan, Romney went way over quota.

He told the auto executives that they were being picked on when Congress required fuel efficiency to reach 35 m.p.g. by 2020. (Washington told Detroit to improve mileage in 1975, and just 32 years later, here’s Big Brother, harping again.) And he promised $20 billion in federally funded research and development to get the auto industry back on track.

Let’s see, $20 billion for Michigan, and 46 states left to go. We’re looking at nearly a trillion dollars in potential pander just to get Mitt to the conventions. We won’t have to worry about Congress doling out pork anymore — Romney will give the entire store away himself.

In his victory speech, Romney said his inspiration came from “Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush.” I’m not sure how Reagan would have felt about that $20 billion, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time the words “George Herbert Walker Bush” and “inspiration” have appeared in the same sentence […]

Yuh-huh. And it suddenly occurs to York of the formerly conservative NRO—the knuckle-draggers who endorsed Romney for president—how Romney’s proposal to MI will play in the upcoming primary contests:

[…] “if Romney’s success in Michigan prompts more and more candidate attention to economic issues, the campaign will take on a new, decidedly post-war-on-terror feel,” writes Byron York of the National Review in a The Corner post titled Message: We Care

And if that happens, it will probably go in directions that few conservatives are happy with. When candidates start talking about easing voters’ pain, there’s no telling what they will promise – Romney’s $20 billion check to the auto industry might be just the beginning […]

Well, duh. We make the same case here:

[…] Not only does Romney’s plan to nationalize the US automobile industry reflect yet another complete ideological reversal for the hapless candidate—Not only is Romney’s proposal impracticable and nearly impossible on its face, just the worst possible public policy imaginable—Not only will Romney’s proposal issue into in a furious race to the bottom as Romney himself and the other candidates are forced to out-bid each other promising to bail-out, subsidize, or protect from competition other ailing industries and entire economic sectors—but Romney’s plan for MI is also based on a risibly inaccurate and historically flawed assessment of an already globalized and post-industrial US automobile “industry” […]

We conclude this sad blog burst with an excerpt from an editorial by the Washington Times:

[…] “No doubt [Romney] will soon saturate Florida’s airwaves the way he bombarded Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan,” write the crack editorialists of the Washington Times in an article titled Romney’s Michigan Win

Too bad Mr. Romney continues to refuse to tell voters how much of his personal wealth he spent during the fourth quarter even as he ratchets up his personal spending throughout the critical month of January.

… Mr. McCain told Michigan voters what they know in their hearts to be true. Those auto jobs are gone. But they chose to believe, at least for a day, Mr. Romney’s dubious optimism, which, if he is elected in November, will surely become one of the first campaign promises he will have to break […]

We can only hope he breaks it. Now that Romney could actually end up as our president, we need to hope and pray that his lies and duplicities work in our favor.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

First, let us pass in review:

(1) As Romney-apologists tell the story, Romney wanted to run as a competent technocrat, an outsider with the business experience and native genius necessary to “fix Washington.” Only Romney could never stay on message. So what the campaign emitted was unintelligible noise.

In the opinion of observers Romney had tried early on to position himself as a social conservative, only this ridiculously revisionist line never withstood any encounter with the facts of Romney’s record. Romney responded by tacking ever further to the right.

Romney outflanks himself yet again!–poll indicates Romney’s pull to the right alienates independents, centrists, and moderates

(2) After Iowa returned its decision for Gov. Mike Huckabee, Romney suddenly transformed into the “change” candidate.

(3) After New Hampshire returned its decision for Sen. John McCain, Romney transforms himself yet again. Romney abandons his social and economic conservative line altogether. Suddenly Romney wants to nationalize an ailing industry, only in the post-industrial, post-progressive era this assumes the form of a Washington-Detroit “partnership” combined with massive subsidies.

This is Romney himself from a Transcript of Romney’s Speech to the Detroit Economic Club

[…] “First of all, we have to be honest about the problems we have and tackle them head on. If I’m President of this country, I will roll up my sleeves in the first 100 days I’m in office, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders and together we will develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership. It will be a plan that works for Michigan and that works for the American taxpayer.

“And as part of this, we will directly address and rectify the enormous product cost and capital cost disadvantages that currently burden the domestic automakers. From legacy costs, to health care costs, to increased CAFE standard costs, to the cost of embedded taxes, Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner, not a disinterested observer. The plan is going to have to include increases in funding for automotive related research as well as new tax benefits including making the Research and Development Tax Credit permanent.

“I am not open to a bail out, but I am open to a work out. Washington should not be a benefactor, but it can and must be a partner […]

In an article titled Romney on the Ropes, Byron York of the National Review comments:

[…] [Romney’s] plan is to make the United States government a virtual partner of Ford, GM, and Chrysler. “If I’m president of this country, I will roll up my sleeves in the first 100 days I’m in office, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders and together we will develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership,” Romney tells the Economic Club. “It will be a plan that works for Michigan and that works for the American taxpayer.”

The plan would involve easier-to-reach mileage standards, increased funding and extended tax breaks for research and development, worker health care reforms, and more. “Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner, not a disinterested observer,” Romney says. “I am not open to a bail out, but I am open to a work out. Washington should not be a benefactor, but it can and must be a partner.”

Romney’s proposals might not be music to the ears of free-market conservatives who believe Detroit made its own problems and needs to fix itself. But it’s what a lot of people in Michigan want to hear […]

Might not be music to our ears? Here be the problem, and it has little to do with Romney’s tone deafness: Not only does Romney’s plan to nationalize the US automobile industry reflect yet another complete ideological reversal for the hapless candidate—Not only is Romney’s proposal impracticable and nearly impossible on its face, just the worst possible public policy imaginable—Not only will Romney’s proposal issue into in a furious race to the bottom as Romney himself and the other candidates are forced to out-bid each other promising to bail-out, subsidize, or protect from competition other ailing industries and entire economic sectors—but Romney’s plan for MI is also based on a risibly inaccurate and historically flawed assessment of an already globalized and post-industrial US automobile “industry”. Micheline Maynard of NYT’s The Caucus outlines the case against Romney’s proposals in an article titled Romney Address a Car Industry That Has Changed:

[…] Mr. Romney’s speech to the Economic Club of Detroit on Monday seemed more rooted in a time when Detroit companies dominated the automotive scene, rather than now, when Toyota is No. 2 behind General Motors.

For example, Mr. Romney vowed that if elected, “in my first 100 days, I will roll up my sleeves, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders to develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership.”

But America’s auto industry now is no longer exclusively American. It includes Toyota, Honda, Nissan, as well as the leaders of European and Asian automakers. All have built factories in the United States over the past 25 years, particularly in states across the South. Collectively, foreign companies held 48.9 percent of American sales last year, when Detroit’s market share slipped to 51.1 percent, its lowest ever.

Mr. Romney also referred to a series of areas where the industry ought to engage with Washington, ranging from its pension and health care expenses, known as legacy costs, to mileage standards, known as corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE.

“From legacy costs, to health care costs, to increased CAFE standards, to embedded taxes, Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner, not a disinterested observer,” Mr. Romney said.

However, G.M., Ford Motor and Chrysler reached contracts with the United Automobile Workers union last fall that will shift their burden for retiree health care costs, the major portion of legacy costs, to an independent trust that will be administered by the U.A.W. Moreover, the companies and the union pledged to spend money creating a new think tank that will lobby for federal health care reform.

Speaking of fuel economy, Mr. Romey said, “Of course fleet mileage needs to rise, but discontinuous CAFE leaps, uncoordinated with the domestic manufacturers, and absent consideration of competitiveness, kills jobs and imperils an industry,”

Mr. Romney added: “Washington-dictated CAFE is not the right answer.”

But the auto companies just finished taking part in a spirited Congressional debate over CAFE during 2007. And while they fought increases in fuel economy standards early on, the automakers wound up supporting the new law that requires them to achieve 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

Mr. Romney also had a vintage perspective on his father’s former company, American Motors.

“I used to ask my dad, ‘How in the world can you compete as head of America Motors when you’ve got such huge competitors, GM, Ford, Chrysler, the Big Three — how do you possibly think you can succeed?’” Mr. Romney said. “And he’d say in a way that I have not forgotten: ‘Mitt, there’s nothing as vulnerable as entrenched success. There’s nothing as vulnerable as entrenched success.’”

Yet it was A.M.C. that was vulnerable in its final years. It first turned to Renault of France for a rescue, selling a 46 percent stake to the French auto company in 1980, earning it the nickname, “Franco-American Motors.” In 1987, Chrysler purchased A.M.C. from Renault, and the company vanished from the automotive scene […]

Back to Byron York:

[…] From the beginning of his campaign, Romney has argued that he is the only candidate who can unite the three main elements of the Republican party: economic conservatives, national-security conservatives, and social conservatives. But Romney is really mostly an economic conservative; his foreign-policy credentials aren’t much, and his social conservatism — highlighted by the famed flip-flop over abortion — has earned him as many critics as fans. That hurt him in Iowa and New Hampshire, but on the last day of the campaign in Michigan, it’s economy, economy, economy, and that is where Romney is strongest […]

Remarks:

(1) Contra York, the National Review itself argues that Romney “is the only candidate who can unite the three main elements of the Republican party: economic conservatives, national-security conservatives, and social conservatives.” See:

So here you have York, a writer for the National Review, arguing that Romney really isn’t a conservative at all—correction: York argues that Romney is really only an “economic conservative,” even though Romney’s policies, as York admits with his “music” comment, are anything but conservative. What does this say about the goof-balls at the National Review!?

(2) Romney’s proposal for the US automobile industry is not economic in content or in character—this is not an economic proposal.

It is a political proposal.

It assumes in advance that the performance or non-performance of a US industry is a political question. It assumes in advance the priority of political agency over private activity. And it arrives at the conclusion that the US taxpayer should subsidize the wrongheaded and shortsighted decisions of US automobile executives, and that Washington should supervise—as a partner—and assume the costs of, an entire economic sector.

So why should Romney’s proposal not apply also to e.g. US agriculture, or the technology sector? This is the logical contradiction of Romney’s proposal: it admits of no conceptual limit or limit in principle. It is not enough to argue that the automotive industry is the “canary in the coal mine” for the US economy and therefore deserves special attention—every sector of the economy, it can be argued, is vitally important—that’s part of what it means to be an economy—every sector is interrelated, interdependent.

The empirical contradiction of Romney’s plan is this: it cannot be done. History has already returned its verdict on heavy industry as an economic driver. The cash value of manufactured goods has declined for the past 25 years. Industrial capacity is more generally distributed in the world. Information processing technology and technique drives up productivity so more can be made with less labor, and this drives down prices—etc., etc.—no longer can heavy industry be the material basis of the US middle class. It is simply impossible at this historical stage.

Romney’s plan is not merely government activism, it is government atavism. It is an attempt to reverse history.

Our conclusion: Romney is not a conservative. Not in any sense of the term. Also: Romney has successfully bought a primary contest by issuing a check he cannot possibly cash.

Michigan belongs to Romney now. He can have it.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. Credit goes to eyeon08.com for the Byron York article.

A scathing attack on Mitt Romney today from Jim Rappaport, the former head of the Massachusetts Republican party who just held a conference call with reporters to announce his endorsement of Rudy Giuliani,” writes Byron York in a post for NRO’s The Corner titled A GOP Attack on Romney

Rappaport praised Giuliani’s record in New York and said Romney “has a strong record of showmanship as opposed to actual performance.” Discussing Romney’s relationship with the Massachusetts state legislature, Rappaport said of the former governor, “His word is no good…Mitt Romney would say one thing in a meeting and literally go out of the meeting to the press and tell the opposite story. There was no desire in the legislature to be accommodating to him because they couldn’t trust him.” Romney, Rappaport continued, “will be clear today on what he believes today, and he’ll be clear tomorrow on what he believes tomorrow, but they may be different things” …

Yuh-huh. See:

Lizza: Romney is a passionate advocate of each new stance he takes

Yet York’s own National Review Online—another proud Blog for Mitt and apparently a subsidiary of Bain Capital, who also recently acquired Clear Channel Communications, carriers of Rush Limbaugh et alendorsed this troubled man to be our president.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. What was it Neil Stevens wrote at Redstate.com?—Trust the man, trust the plan?—i.e. character should matter?

“the problem, for Romney, is that, to my knowledge at least, he has not said simply that the LDS church was wrong to exclude blacks from the priesthood and top leadership positions before 1978,” writes Byron York in an NRO The Corner post titled Mormonism, Romney, and the Race

Voters don’t mind it – they even like it – when a candidate says something in the past was wrong but that now it is right. But today, on “Meet the Press,” Romney wouldn’t say that.

For non-Mormons, like me, the question seems to focus on the issue of revelation. The LDS church policy was changed in 1978 when the president of the church said he had received a revelation dictating that leadership positions should be open to everyone. At the time, church officials sent out this letter:

In early June of this year, the First Presidency announced that a revelation had been received by President Spencer W. Kimball extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church. President Kimball has asked that I advise the conference that after he had received this revelation, which came to him after extended meditation and prayer in the sacred rooms of the holy temple, he presented it to his counselors, who accepted it and approved it…

I asked about the revelation several weeks ago, when a few of us in the NR Washington bureau met with Mormon Elders M. Russell Ballard and Quentin L. Cook, who had come to Washington to meet with staffers of several publications. (They were concerned about the image of the church; they did not discuss Romney or his candidacy and offered no opinion on it.) When I asked why the church changed position in 1978, the answer was, if I recall correctly, that they did not know. It wasn’t a flip answer; they were saying that they could not know why God had given that revelation to Kimball at that particular moment. They were not inclined to say that the church had been wrong before. That’s a built-in dilemma of the system; if a church says it is led by revelation, and then says it was wrong, it’s kind of like saying God was wrong …

Um, OK., but what about when Romney flatly denies empirical evidence? Is that based on revelation too? Is it kind of like saying G-d was wrong? Regard:

“Mitt Romney dismissed a picture on the Internet on Tuesday that apparently showed him attending a fundraising reception for Planned Parenthood in 1994 during his Senate campaign,” writes someone, we know not who, in an associated press tory titled Mitt Romney Dismisses Photo Suggesting He Attended Planned Parenthood Even

“I attend a lot of events when I run for office. I don’t recall the specific event,” the former Massachusetts governor said as he campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination. “I think I’ve made it very clear. I was pro-choice, or effectively pro-choice, when I ran in 1994. As governor I’m pro-life and I have a record of being pro-life and I’m firmly pro-life today” …

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Here’s an interesting one,” writes NRO’s Byron York in a The Corner post titled McCain Attacks Romney’s Attack on Huckabee

The Romney campaign is set to release the first negative ad of the season in Iowa tomorrow – an attack on Mike Huckabee on the immigration issue. Huckabee will certainly respond – and now, he has help from another candidate, John McCain. A few minutes ago, the McCain campaign released a statement from Iowa chairman Dave Roederer denouncing the attack on Huckabee:

News that Mitt Romney will launch a new attack ad tomorrow is another move by a campaign that continues to insult Iowa voters. Iowa families should not be subjected to this negative style of campaigning, especially during the holiday season.

Governor Romney has flip-flopped on several major issues that voters care about. It’s particularly amazing that Governor Romney would attack anyone on immigration when he’s on his third position. John McCain has run an honorable campaign that all Iowans can be proud of. I call on Governor Romney to drop his plans for this negative attack and follow John McCain’s lead. Candidates need to raise the level of the debate, not lower it …

AmSpec blog’s J. Ruben comments:

[York’s NRO post] tells the latest battle of McCain vs. Romney — over the new ad directed at Huckabee. The response by a Romney “supporter”– ” Hey McCain touted Romney in 2002 ” — shows roughly the same level of self-delusion as the “politically incorrect” ad. In 2002 , of course, Romney had yet to reverse himself on abortion, gay rights, gun rights, campaign finance reform, Ronald Reagan, the Bush tax cuts and immigration … etc.

Dear Team Romney, you have a problem. No one fears you. Nor should they. Your negatives are too high, your poll numbers too soft, and your candidate is too icy-cold unlikable to support or sustain a negative message. Hence the instant blowback you experience every single time you try to go negative.

Dear Sen. McCain, Gov. Huckabee et al, please leave Romney alone. Never interfere when your enemies are determined to commit suicide.

Of course we predicted that the other candidates would begin to concert their activities contra Romney:

Romney bravely—or unwittingly—faces the gathering storm, er, we mean swarm

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Is there any evidence that this poll contacted anyone in Iowa who was not a Romney staffer or supporter?”—asks eye of eyeon08.com in a post titled ‘Voters’ Who Broke Story on Romney Calls On Romney Payroll

If not, is there any evidence that the calls actually occurred? Could this be a story manufactured by the Romney campaign? After all, Western Wats only seems to talk through another Romney official, Justin Hart.

Second, were they directed by either Boston or Des Moines to deliver these messages? If so, were they told to hide their relationship with the Romney campaign?

Is Romney auditioning for FEMA Administrator?

Romney’s response? To stonewall and ridicule. Says Greg Sargent in a TPM ElectionCentral post titled Romney: Theories About Me Polling Myself Are Like 9/11 Conspiracy Theories:

A CNN reporter just asked Mitt Romney about all the theories that his campaign is behind the anti-Mormon calls. His response? Push the 9/11 button…

Key quote: “It’s the same kind of conspiracy theorists that you’re raising that say, `Oh, we brought down the World Trade Center ourselves.'”

The emphasis is ours. This is the first step of the Romney crisis protocol, to stonewall and ridicule. Byron York walks us through the full process. We append our comments below.

… In our discussion, I mentioned to Romney a similar statement by Rep. Bob Inglis, a conservative Republican congressman from South Carolina, who recently recounted a meeting he had with Romney. Inglis told him, “You cannot equate Mormonism with Christianity; you cannot say, ‘I am a Christian just like you,’“ according to an account of the conversation by Bloomberg News. “If he does that,” said Inglis, “every Baptist preacher in the South is going to have to go to the pulpit on Sunday and explain the differences.” I wanted to know what Romney thought about that; Romney wasn’t eager to talk.

“Did Inglis say that to you?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Romney said. “He may well have.”

“You don’t recall the conversation?”

“I have a lot of conversations. I don’t recall the exact words of people, but if he says he said that, I’ll take his word for it.”

“What was your reaction?”

“I don’t recall the conversation so precisely that I can describe my exact reaction to that.”

Recall precisely. My exact reaction. Sometimes one forgets that Romney was trained as a lawyer, but not on that day. I tried one more time. “Well, okay, if you have been told that by other people, what is your reaction to the substance of what they are saying?” “You know, the term ‘Christian’ means different things to different people,” Romney told me. “Jews aren’t Christian. That doesn’t preclude a Jew from being able to run for office and become president. I believe that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world and is the son of God. Now, some people say, well, that doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian because Christian refers to a certain group of evangelical Christian faiths. That’s fine. That’s their view. Others say, no, anyone who believes in Jesus Christ as the son of God and the Savior should be called Christian. That’s fine, too. I’ll just describe what I believe and not try to distinguish my faith from others. That’s really something for my faith to do and for the churches amongst themselves to consider” …

So: Here is the full Romney protocol as we understand it.

(1) Stonewall and ridicule: “Did Inglis say that to you?” I asked. “I don’t know,” Romney said. “He may well have.” “You don’t recall the conversation?” “I have a lot of conversations. I don’t recall the exact words of people, but if he says he said that, I’ll take his word for it.”

(2) Muddy the waters: “You know, the term ‘Christian’ means different things to different people,” Romney told me.

(3) Blur distinctions: “I’ll just describe what I believe and not try to distinguish my faith from others.”

Please note that (3) is precisely the reverse of what Inglis has asked for:

… Inglis told him, “You cannot equate Mormonism with Christianity; you cannot say, ‘I am a Christian just like you,’“ according to an account of the conversation by Bloomberg News. “If he does that,” said Inglis, “every Baptist preacher in the South is going to have to go to the pulpit on Sunday and explain the differences” …

Conclusion: The Romney protocol is designed to dis-clarify and deconstrue (dis-articulate)—it is a technique of equivocation.

Our prediction? Expect steps (2) and (3) very soon. Well, unless step (1) proves successful for the hapless candidate.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

… As we talked, I began a question, “If I could separate stem cells from abortion — “ writes Byron York of the formerly conservative NRO in a story titled Mitt Romney: “I Changed My View. Is that So Difficult to Understand?” The candidate talks about his efforts to convince voters that his pro-life conversion is real

Romney quickly interrupted. “You can’t, can you?”

“Well, there are laws that deal with stem cells,” I said, “and then there is Roe itself.”

“Well, they both relate to the sanctity of human life.”

“But your position was, as far as a woman’s right to have an abortion is concerned, that you would protect that and that you believed that Roe should be protected.”

“I’m not sure what your question is,” Romney said, growing visibly irritated. “I changed my view. Is that so difficult to understand?”

One source of skepticism about Romney is his habit of occasionally pushing his argument a little too far, of cutting a few corners with his record. Take that award from the Massachusetts Citizens for Life. It was presented in May 2007, not by the state organization of Massachusetts Citizens for Life but by the Pioneer Valley Regional Chapter, which represents the western part of the state. When Romney began to cite it in his campaign appearances, group officials in Boston issued a statement “to make clear that the local award did not constitute endorsement by the state organization.” The statement went on to give a mixed view of Romney, saying he had taken “a politically-expedient pro-abortion position,” but that “admitting that he was wrong took rare courage.” So what Romney points to as the stamp of approval from a pro-life group is really a bit less … etc.

These lines speak volumes. The emphasis is ours. Answer: Yes, Romney, your change-of-view is difficult to understand, terribly difficult. Here is how Silverstein puts it:

… The problems holding him back were all identified in the campaign’s PowerPoint presentation: the Massachusetts background, the image of slickness, the fears about his religion, and, above all, mistrust of his ideological transformation. Romney and his handlers portray him as having undergone a political conversion, but they can’t point to any convincing catalyst. There was no religious epiphany (as, for example, with George W. Bush) or political awakening (as with Ronald Reagan, a New Deal Democrat who joined the Republican Party in 1962 and backed Barry Goldwater for president two years later, which at the time was hardly a politically savvy move). With Romney, there’s merely been the recent espousal of positions diametrically opposed to his earlier ones, feeding the suspicion that his political shifts are more reflective of his ambition than of his convictions …

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

The story—a composite of many such stories from Livy’s War with Hannibal—would go like this: The highly-trained and superbly-equipped Romans would invest a hillside or a bridgehead with one of their famous marching camps—ditch, rampart, palisade.

Later, Hannibal would dispatch a few hundred foot and a squadron of horse to march on the Roman camp in no good order.

The Romans would repulse Hannibal’s troops. The Romans would then march out of their camp in force to pursue the routed attackers and, almost invariably, discover themselves caught in a trap as Punic foot and horse would spring from the hollows or defiles in which they hid themselves. The Romans would be weary from marching and fighting on the march; the new Punic forces would be far fewer in number, but they would be fed, rested, and confident in their knowledge of the terrain.

The Romans, fighting to extricate themselves, would then see either (a) smoke rising from their base-camp, or (b) fresh troops suddenly appearing to their rear or on their flanks. The result would be a moral collapse among the Roman forces; they would break ranks, scatter, and the Punic forces would defeat them in detail.

This is the so-called Punic strategy—ruses, feints, traps, followed by moral collapse—this is how Hannibal defeated forces possessed of greater numbers and superior arms with his loosely cohering bands of stragglers and misfits from Spain, Africa, and Gaul.

Turn your attention to Romney. Romney remains pinned down in the early-primary states, hemorrhaging millions in media buys as he spends every waking moment campaigning. Suddenly, to Romney’s rear, in a state that Romney believed bought and paid for, Huckabee appears flush with new cash and, according to rumor an impending endorsement from Dr. James Dobson. See:

Also: McCain is recovering in the polls. A resurgent McCain could cost Romney New Hampshire.

Question: are these developments all just grim coincidence for the hapless candidate from Bain Capital?—well, what is Mayor Giuliani telling the world about his plans?

“Wednesday, after the announcement that Pat Robertson was endorsing his candidacy, Giuliani sat down with me for a talk about strategy,” writes Byron York of the formerly conservative and shamelessly pro-Romney National Review in an article titled, prosaically, The Race Rudy Will Run Giuliani talks state-by-state strateg

The plan he described basically involves counting backward from February 5, that is, first establishing himself in the mega-primary states — with Florida a must-win contest — and then taking up the fight in the smaller early states. It’s a big-risk, big-reward strategy, given the possibility that another candidate might dominate the early primaries, knocking Giuliani out of the running before the big states began to vote.

“Everybody has their own theory,” Giuliani told me. “Our theory was to get the big states organized, try to beat everybody else to getting the big states organized, so you have them as a fallback, and then take your resources and start to expend them in the states that come up first. And now we’re going to do that.”

Translation: I have organized my base and am now prepared to maneuver beyond it—I will take the fight to Romney. What the always-a-little befuddled York seems to miss: a split decision, or a failure to achieve a clear decision, in the early states is a win for Giuliani no matter what other candidate emerges still standing. See:

yours &c.
dr. g.d.