Multiple Choice Mitt Won’t Get Free Pass on Flip-Flopping in the General Election

Clearly Mitt Romney benefitted greatly by the weakness of his competition for the GOP nomination.  How else could a flip-flopping flim flam salesman who takes these decidedly liberal positions be the odds on favorite to win the nomination:

In a post a few days ago, I discussed two reasons Mandate Mitt can’t beat Obama. To wit, he’ll have no credibility in attacking the President on his two greatest vulnerabilities: ObamaCare and unemployment.  In a piece today at the Washington Examiner, Phillip Klein provides another:

During a primary, there’s a certain political balancing act to flip-flopping. On the one hand, changing positions makes a candidate seem inauthentic, but on the other hand, people like it when you agree with them. As it applies to Romney and conservatives, the debate has been between those who see his numerous reversals as evidence that he isn’t truly a conservative, and his supporters, who tout the fact that his current rhetoric is conservative. During the primary season, for instance, some pro-life conservatives have remained suspicious that he’s really one of them, whereas others have argued that opponents of abortion should welcome converts.

Klein makes a great point. In the run-up to the primaries, Romney and his army of surrogates in the GOP Establishment and mainstream media, paid and unpaid, have continuously been telling us that the Mittster may not have been a conservative in the past but that’s all changed; that somehow, incredibly, Romney has suddenly seen the error of his ways and has had a conservative epiphany, and that his long history of liberalism was just a youthful indiscretion, never mind he was in his late 50s when he designed RomneyCare.

The most tortured logic I’ve seen with this unbelievable narrative came from Ann Coulter, who essentially claims that Say Anything Mitt fooled Massachusetts voters into electing him by pretending he was a liberal and, therefore, he’s really a conservative or something.  In other words, according to Coulter, the fact that Mitt lied to voters in Massachusetts in an effort to get elected is evidence that he’s not lying to voters now in an effort to get elected.  Get it?

Klein next explains why this kind of calumny from Mitt and his apologists, although it may well succeed in getting him the nomination, won’t work in the general election:

But should he be become the nominee, Romney will have to earn the votes of a lot of people who don’t necessarily agree with him. So he’ll essentially get all of the political downside of being a flip-flopper with none of the offsetting benefits. Pro-choice independents, will not only be turned off by his flip flops, but they won’t be happy that he’s now pro-life. So it kind of becomes a double whammy.

Bingo.  Flip-floppers are inherently untrustworthy, and those who do have core convictions, regardless of which side they’re on, can never be confident as to what said flip-flopper really believes.  Klein’s next point is particularly salient in Mitt’s case:

On top of this, he’ll have less leeway to shift positions during the general election than typical nominees, because even the slightest change would reinforce the charge.

Heh. Mitt losing his ability to flip-flop is akin to an NFL quarterback losing his ability to throw the football.  Flip-flopping is all the Mittens has.  Can anyone imagine Mitt Romney taking a position and sticking to it?  He’s undoubtedly having nightmares over this prospect.  How will he remember what his latest position was?

Should he be the nominee, Mitt will be in an untenable position.  The textbook paradigm for running a successful presidential campaign is to way to win the nomination by appealing to and locking down your base, then make a subtle shift to the center in the general election to pick off a sufficient number those moderates over which the campaign consultants drool.  Mitt’s long career of incessant flip-flopping precludes him from following this electoral strategy.

Romney’s path to the nomination has been to win over the 25% of GOP moderates and establishment types while a gang of laughably inept, not-ready-for-prime-time candidates splinters the remaining 75%.  Mitt is not appealing to his base, and certainly hasn’t locked them down.  Sure, many of them are planning to vote for him in the general, but only grudgingly so. At best, it will be a “lesser of two evils” proposition.

Conservatives remain deeply suspicious of the Mittster, and the video above reminds us why.  Any attempt by Romney to make that subtle shift to the center about which I wrote above will only confirm conservative suspicion that Romney is what he is: A serial panderer with no core convictions other than his desire to be president.  In summary, Romney will have to spend the general election campaign shoring up his base, giving Obama free reign to go after the moderates and independents.  Haven’t we seen this act before?


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