Often the opinion pages of the Washington Post foreshadow the line of attack the Democrats will take on particular candidates. I was a little surprised yesterday morning when I read Ruth Marcus’ column entitled Campaign 2012: Welcome to the slugfest. It in, Obamabot David Plouffe (rhymes with fluff) makes a very candid assessment about Mitt Romney that we, ourselves, have made over the years:
“He has no core,” Plouffe said in an unusually sharp attack for a White House official. “You get the sense with Mitt Romney that, you know, if he thought .?.?. it was good to say the sky was green and the grass is blue to win an election, he’d say it.”
Exactly so. And today the Washington Post set out to show how this is true on the front page.
The article is titled As governor, Romney tried to reassure the left and is a must read.
Mitt Romney was firm and direct with the abortion rights advocates sitting in his office nine years ago, assuring the group that if elected Massachusetts governor, he would protect the state’s abortion laws.
Then, as the meeting drew to a close, the businessman offered an intriguing suggestion — that he would rise to national prominence in the Republican Party as a victor in a liberal state and could use his influence to soften the GOP’s hard-line opposition to abortion.
He would be a “good voice in the party” for their cause, and his moderation on the issue would be “widely written about,” he said, according to detailed notes taken by an officer of the group, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.
“You need someone like me in Washington,” several participants recalled Romney saying that day in September 2002, an apparent reference to his future ambitions.
Melissa Kogut, the NARAL group’s executive director in 2002, recalled Wednesday that as she and other participants in the meeting began to pack their belongings to leave after the 45-minute session, Romney became “emphatic that the Republican Party was not doing themselves a service by being so vehemently anti-choice.”
The abortion rights supporters came away from the meeting pleasantly surprised. Romney declined to label himself “pro-choice” but said he eschewed all labels, including “pro-life.” He told the group that he would “protect and preserve a woman’s right to choose under Massachusetts law” and that he thought any move to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision would be a “serious mistake for our country.”
In an Aug. 25, 1994, interview with Bay Windows, a gay newspaper in Boston, he offered this pitch, according to excerpts published on the paper’s Web site: “There’s something to be said for having a Republican who supports civil rights in this broader context, including sexual orientation. When Ted Kennedy speaks on gay rights, he’s seen as an extremist. When Mitt Romney speaks on gay rights he’s seen as a centrist and a moderate.
“It’s a little like if Eugene McCarthy was arguing in favor of recognizing China, people would have called him a nut. But when Richard Nixon does it, it becomes reasonable. When Ted says it, it’s extreme; when I say it, it’s mainstream.”
Romney backed incentives for buying efficient vehicles, tougher vehicle emissions rules and mandatory cuts in emissions linked to global warming.
The plan not only called for reducing the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 and cutting them another 10 percent by 2020, but it said that “to eliminate any dangerous threat to the climate .?.?. current science suggests this will require reductions as much as 75-85 percent below current levels.”
In March 2003 he pledged to buy up to $100 million worth
of electricity from renewable sources. That month, he declared, “the global warming debate is now pretty much over.”
Did conservatives learn anything from this? Not really. We’ve long known Romney was an unprincipled flip flopper. In fact, the most cogent defense I’ve seen of a Romney candidacy was made by Michael Gerson who argues, essentially, that Romney has held so many positions that he can’t flip flop anymore. While he may not come up with any new positions, I’m less sanguine than Gerson about him revisiting some old ones.
In fact, I would nearly go so far to say that one of the worst fates that could befall conservatism is that in January 2013 we find ourselves with President Mitt Romney and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. We can survive on or the other, we can’t survive both, and McConnell isn’t going anywhere.