I’ve been trying to write up a post on this all day, but the annoying reality of having to make a living has prevented me from doing so until now. Eye-opening revelations from Romney’s past seem to come at us every three or four days. This latest one, published yesterday evening in the Washington Post, ought to be enough in and of itself to cause any self-respecting conservative planning to hold his or her nose and vote for Multiple Choice Mitt to reconsider that position:
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.”
Romney’s promise to Massachusetts liberals didn’t end with his commitment to abortion rights but also included, among other things, a strong commitment to the anti-energy development religion as espoused by activists on the far left:
On the environment, Romney seemed interested in carving out an agenda largely in line with the state’s most fervent activists on the left.
After he took office in 2003, some state employees and activists were nervous about how the new governor would approach the climate-change issue. Massachusetts had already reached an agreement with other Northeastern states and some Canadian provinces on a plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Romney surprised them by taking a hands-on approach, personally helping craft a “Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan” that he unveiled in 2004.
He reorganized the state government to create the Office of Commonwealth Development — with the former president of the liberal Conservation Law Foundation, Douglas Foy, as its head — to better coordinate climate work and sustainable-growth activities among different agencies.
As he worked on the plan, according to people familiar with the process, he even overruled some objections by his chief of staff, who criticized the plan as potentially too left-leaning.
There’s much more in this Washington Post expose chronicling Romney’s liberal positions on issues of paramount importance to conservatives, and I urge you to read the whole thing. Ed Morrissey has already written an excellent piece on this today at Hot Air, and in the interest of time I’ll excerpt some of what he wrote:
WaPo’s reporters Peter Wallsten and Juliet Eilperin say that this gives us some “revealing insights into the ever-evolving ideology of Romney.” Boy, does it ever. As Wallsten and Eilperin also note, though, this isn’t entirely new. They sniffed some of this out from a Los Angeles Times profile of Romney in 2007, just as he was launching his first presidential bid.
The article goes into great detail on his policy positions, especially on the environment, which we have already covered at Hot Air. The question is less that Romney has an “ever-evolving ideology,” though, than whether Romney has any ideology at all. One could look at that positively and say that Romney might be the ultimate Republican pragmatist who can get things done, or negatively with Romney being another politician willing to say anything to get elected. Since the biggest aim for Republicans in the 2012 general is to send Barack Obama into retirement, being able to get elected might not be an awful epithet to toss.
Here’s the problem with that, however. In either description, there is no reliable indicator to determine exactly what a President Romney would do once in office. It’s possible, as Michael Gerson argued this week, that Romney can no longer afford to flip again on any of these issues. It’s also possible that President Mitt Romney might turn into Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who folded his common-sense conservative tent after getting one bloody nose in a referendum fight and aligned himself with liberal Democrats in California. Pragmatically speaking, that allowed Schwarzenegger to win re-election. Did that benefit Republicans in California? Not at all, and some California Republicans believe that Schwarzenegger’s bad performance will remain a millstone around their necks for some time to come.
Indeed it will, and that’s why I made the point a couple weeks ago that a Romney Presidency would be disastrous for conservatives in the long run, ultimately causing irreparable harm to the conservative brand nationally as the “Governator” did to it in California.
To Morrissey’s analysis I would add a couple things. I’ve long argued that the Mittster has been running for president for at least 10 years. This article confirms that beyond a shadow of a doubt. He had always intended to use the Massachusetts governorship as nothing more than a stepping stone for his ambitions to higher office, and his assurances to the Massachusetts Left back in 2002 illustrate just how calculating he is.
They also expose his oft-repeated claim that he isn’t a professional politician for the utter absurdity it is. The only reason he can even make the claim he isn’t a career politician is because he has a penchant for losing elections. Does anyone believe he wouldn’t have been in Washington since the mid-90s had he beaten Ted Kennedy in the 1994 Senate Race?
I would argue that race was to be a stepping stone for Mitt’s obsession with being President, but when Kennedy trounced him, he lost he had to shift gears. In 2002 he saw his chance and, along with the help of the GOP establishment in Massachusetts, successfully forced sitting Republican Governor Jane Swift to step aside so that he could be anointed the Republican Gubernatorial nominee. Mission accomplished. It’s always been about Mitt being President, and if he drags down the entire conservative movement pursuing that goal, so be it. His criticism of other candidates for being “career politicians “, even if true, sounds silly coming from this guy.
A second point I’d make is that the liberal positions Romney took during his Governorship weren’t the youthful indiscretions of a twenty-something youth struggling with his political identity. They occurred just nine years ago when Romney was in his mid-50s. Finally, on a lighter note, long-time Romney flack Eric Fehrnstrom was quoted in the WaPo piece, and what he said caused me to laugh out loud (emphasis mine):
Romney aides declined to comment Wednesday. Aide Eric Fehrnstrom referred The Washington Post to quotes he provided the Los Angeles Times four years ago in which he said that Romney had been true to his words and that activists’ recollections were colored by their political agendas.
“People’s memories change with time, and change depending on which way the political winds are blowing,” Fehrnstrom said then.
Of course. Romney NEVER shifts his positions with the political winds, and anyone who suggests otherwise is a damn liar. Oh wait.