Monday, February 13, 2012

Romney’s Pro-Life Position Not So New

Also: Say hello to the “Sev-Con”

There’s a NYTimes article out over the weekend that is all the buzz today. The pull-quote du jour is by former Mitt Romney strategist Mike Murphy, who told National Review in 2005 that Romney "is a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly."

The preferred pick-apart is that this proves Romney will say and do anything to get elected. And, I admit, it certainly sounds damning. If nothing less, it was a poor choice of words. But this is old news. At the time Murphy issued a statement saying he had been misquoted. I’d say the facts support Murphy’s side of the story.

The Times article tries to make more ado about Romney’s pro-life journey than there is. In 1994, when he ran against Ted Kennedy, he did not shy away from his personal opposition to abortion but positioned himself by saying “my personal beliefs, like the personal beliefs of other people, should not be brought into a political campaign.” He lost that race.

In 2001, Romney explicitly stated, “I do not wish to be labeled pro-choice.” This was before his 2002 gubernatorial bid, where he merely pledged, “As governor, Mitt Romney would protect the current pro-choice status quo in Massachusetts. No law would change.” While a pro-lifer would certainly not understand that as a friendly position, clearly the Massachusetts pro-choicers did. So they were the first to call Romney a flip-flopper for vetoing a piece of morning-after-pill legislation. I don’t need to tell anyone here that a veto is merely a motion to maintain the status quo.

Somewhere between 2002 and 2005, Mitt made the “radical” shift from a politically neutral position to asserting "My political philosophy is pro-life." And there he has stayed ever since. Let’s be clear about something: a “flip-flopper” goes back and forth and back and forth on an issue again and again. Mitt has not done that. Nor has he made a drastic overnight policy shift on the eve of an election. It should set off warning bells that Romney’s Republican opponents are adopting liberal talking points in an attempt to tear him down.

Moreover, it should also raise concern that Mitt’s opponents try to use his positive conversion against him. Newt Gingrich asserts that Mitt doesn’t seem “comfortable in his own skin” when it comes to explaining his conversion. One can agree or disagree with that statement, but the suggestion that Mitt is somehow insincere about being pro-life doesn’t hold up against his record. More concerning still are Santorum’s attacks that distort a statement Mitt made pertaining specifically to rape, the ER and the morning-after pill, and attempt to apply it to current issues regarding free contraception for all.

This is all part of the distraction game. Both Gingrich and Santorum are RINOs “faking it” as conservatives. They don’t want to be found out, so they call someone else a faker, hoping their fakery will go unnoticed.

Update (2.16.'12): As a point of comparison, consider Rick Santorum's pro-life conversion. But, you ask, hasn't Rick always been pro-life? Well, just follow the link and consider for yourself.

* * * * *

Perhaps you are aware of the many labels delineating the several branches of modern conservatism: Neocons and Paleocons, Fis-Cons, Soc-Cons, and Culturals. Perhaps you are curious what they all mean. Well, frankly, I’m not even certain that the folks who assign such labels even know and I don’t really care.

But, perhaps you’ve heard something of the kerfuffle surrounding Mitt Romney’s assertion at CPAC that he was a “severely conservative” Republican governor of Massachusetts. Boy, did that set the dogs to howling! Only it didn’t. At least not before the right-wing blogosphere erupted with the condemning declaration that no true conservative would ever say such a thing! Even Limbaugh made a point to say, “I have never heard anybody say, ‘I’m severely conservative.’”

Rush and the others ought to know that it's not a dog-whistle when everyone can hear it blown. I get what they are doing, saying "by his words ye shall know him," which would be fine if they set about deciphering the words instead of defining them. So no one else ever called themselves "severely conservative," so what? The only reason anyone thinks it odd is because the self-appointed phrase-makers have deemed it so. They might not like Mitt's style of music, but that doesn't mean it's tone-deaf like the case of Nancy Pelosi's favorite word. Can I call that sort of analysis "uproariously asinine," or has no one approved that expression yet?

To me, the anybody-but-Romney camp is running out of ways to make their case. There may not be a genuine conservative left in the race, but Romney is the only candidate (besides Paul) cozying up to conservatism. Newt casually calls conservatism “heartless” and “inhumane.” Santorum routinely levels attacks against “bad capitalism.” (I’m not saying Santorum doesn’t have a point, but guess which of those two words the independents and lefties hear.) This sort of talk only serves to distance the candidates from the core philosophy. It’s as though they are saying, “Yeah, yeah, I'm conservative, but let's keep it down.”

Unable to make a good point, Mitt’s critics are willing to make any point. The pundits run with what they have and get everyone all frothy over the wrong things. Maybe Romney meant "extremely" instead of "severely" or maybe he just uses the word a little differently than most. Who cares? What's wrong with a "severe conservative" anyway when dealing with obstinate liberals as he did in Massachusetts? Anyone can spin mountains of meaning from molehill phrases. Rush et al could have just as easily spun it my way but they chose not to. The trouble Romney faces isn't that he isn't speaking the language of the base. He has been speaking it quite well throughout this campaign. (And that isn't to say that speaking is any more than it is.) The trouble is that whenever he does speak so, the pundits plug their ears and sing, "La a la la la!"

I don’t know what Romney meant exactly, but it strikes me as unfair to wipe away months and years of conservative expression over a near-meaningless off-the-cuff word selection. Also, you can start calling me a “Sev-Con.”


Individualist said...


I really wish that we could limit the pro-life debate to what can be reasonably accomplished by a candidate in office. The president can't make law (unless he is the One and congress refuses to counter his executive orders). The abortion issue has been decided, wrongly decided, but decided nonetheless by the supreme court.

Yet for some reason everyone seeking political office from President to dog catcher must be made to weigh in on all aspects of this issue when everyone knows nothing will be done about it. Sure small victories can be made with aprtial birth abortion and defunding planned parenthood but no one can really do anything about the problem. The murder of the unborn.

It says a lot about our innate hipocrisy as a species that this is even an issue. In a world where we obsess over the fate of obscure insects whenever someone builds a sewer system how can we possibly consider allowing abortions to occur.

The fact of the matter is that to the people who support the pro choice (death) cause murdering excess people is a necessary evil so that they can have more of the resources on this planet. This is ultimately what motivates them even though they will never admit it. The rest of us pro lifers are not much better. We allow it.

If I were truely pro life I would go into an abortion clinic every day and disrupt the operations and ensure they could not do any work there. I don't do this. I would rather keep my job and all the other excuses but if I really beleive what goes on there is murder. Like it or not I am in some fashion corrupted as well.

As to Romney, he will reject the far left liberal glorification of abortion in office even if he does little to nothing to put a stop to it. He will do exeactly what any other GOP candidate would do if they were to get elected. This will be roughly 2% due to political opportunism and 98% due to have no other choice. Given these facts as I see them why should anyone's position on the issue have any bearing on this election. Only because the media won't stop talking about it.

tryanmax said...

Indie, I agree completely. This is certainly not my deciding issue. At the same time, I am more convinced everyday that Romney is less RINO than he's been painted. This is just one example of why. Perhaps we can call him a RHINO (Republican Half In Name Only)?

As to whether or not you are "truly" pro-life, I think you set the bar wrong; it's both too high and too low depending on how you look at it. Rushing headlong into martyrdom wouldn't affect anything. If a tree is judged by its fruits, such a tree as that is barren.

rlaWTX said...

It's fun to see the ways conversations expand...

tryanmax said...

It's also fun to see our network expand. Thanks for checking in.

patti said...

I sense a new t-shirt design in your zazzle store!

tryanmax said...

Shoot, I haven't added a new design in so long! I'll think about it, but I'll probably forget before I get to it.

patti said...

i've often wondered about having a zazzle (jazz hands here) store. would you recommend it as a decent beer-money generator?!

tryanmax said...

Depends. How much beer do you want to drink? I'm making about $20/mo., mainly on one particular design that has proven fairly popular. Besides that, I've noticed that if I actually work on my store (adding designs, products, organizing it, etc.) I get a short boost in sales. I think that one design has filled me with hubris, though.

AndrewPrice said...

Tryanmax, I like to think of myself as a sev-con! :)

BTW, tomorrow afternoon (later today... yikes, need to go to bed), I'm outlining a little something interesting about Santorum's "pro-life" background. It turns out, he should not be casting stones at Romney.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Well said about the sev-con thing. As you know, I'm shocked how easily conservatives are throwing each other and their ideology under the bus in the name of sounding the most conservative. It's become like a contest for idiots.

patti said...

t: i'm a lightweight, so $20 is perfect!

tryanmax said...

Andrew, I look forward to the article. I'll shove an update into this article linking to it.

tryanmax said...

Patti, just a bit of warning, I made $0 for the first several months and the fact that "Tilting at Turbines" has become somewhat of a hit was totally unexpected. Most of my designs have never been bought and the others that have have only sold between one and five items. So I did get lucky with a very good idea.

tryanmax said...

afterthought: some people do make a living on zazzle, but I suspect they do little else.

AndrewPrice said...

I had no idea people could make money on zazzle. The few people I know who've done it have made less than $5 in their entire existence.

tryanmax said...

Like all things, it takes a certain combination of persistence, skill, and luck. The most successful "shops" tend to be set up as independent websites that just link to zazzle for the final sale. I've even seen a couple that manage to frame the zazzle website, thus making it practically invisible for a seamless experience. But that requires more coding than I am capable of.

Me, I just had this wacky idea of Don Quixote charging a wind turbine rather than a windmill and decided to finally make good on the old "it oughta be on a t-shirt" expression. I think it's success can be attributed to the fact that it is ambiguous enough for anyone to find their own meaning in it.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks for the link to the Ricky article. I think people will be surprise to discover that Rick had a "Romney moment"... the same thing which he says disqualifies Romney now.

AndrewPrice said...

Huh, you do still have it?

tryanmax said...

Told ya!

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