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Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde - Will the Real Mitt Romney Stand, Please?

Updated on November 3, 2012

After months of priming, campaigning and jostling and with the 2012 presidential elections barely a week away, one would think that the programmatic canons and ideological convictions of the two contenders would be so apparent to many that little would still be left to conjecture. After all, elections are intrinsically about choices, right?

Well, not exactly; at least, not this election cycle. Things seem considerably conflicted and confusing and the GOP candidate, Mitt Romney, appear, either by design or default, to count on that as a key canvassing strategy; the logic or illogic being that the election would be anyone’s to win as long as any perceptible difference between the contenders can be boiled to evaporation with nonsensical political doublespeak.

On any issue, foreign or domestic, Romney seems torn or infinitely at odds with himself. This characteristic was so defining that one of his opponents during the GOP primaries infamously described him as a “perfectly-lubricated weather vane.”

As Hurricane Sandy pounded the east coast of the United States, forgetting that in an effort to appease or pander to his party's ultra right-wing Tea Party hacks he had declared during the GOP primaries that he'd totally and unequivocally slash funding for FEMA and leave emergency assistance in the hands of state/local governments and private companies, Romney conveniently recanted. He now sees the federal government as playing a critical function in disaster recovery efforts.

All through the Republican primaries till the present, Romney worked frantically to distance himself from the Massachusetts version of the federal health care reform act long-heralded as the pioneering or landmark achievement of his reign as governor of the state. He realized earlier in his bid for president this go around that unless he roundly discounted or discredited this program aptly caricaturized as “Romneycare” by his political adversaries, it threatened to be a weighty albatross that could inextricably tie him to Obama and irreversibly draw a wedge between his White House ambitions and the vociferous right wing of the GOP base that always found his conservative credentials suspect.

The reality, though, was that strive as Romney did to the contrary, Obamacare wasn’t just modeled after Romneycare; some of the same minds that informed its conception in Massachusetts actually collaborated with the Obama administration on the health care reform bill.

Regarding Roe v Wade, abortion and/or women’s reproductive rights, Romney unambiguously declared during the primaries that if Congress presented him with a bill overturning that momentous Supreme Court judicial decision or banning abortion, he’d speedily sign it into law.

Today, Romney’s position is much more nuanced; sometimes even hard to properly nail down. He says he’s against abortion in all instances except for rape, incest or the life of the mother. However, he chose in Paul Ryan a vice-presidential candidate whose position on abortion was long known to be identical to that of the Missouri senatorial aspirant Todd Akin, of “legitimate rape” fame, with whom he co-sponsored a number of arcane personhood bills in Congress.

Romney personally endorsed another senatorial candidate from Indiana who recently shocked the nation by pronouncing that women incest/rape victims should be made to have the babies since “God intended” for it to happen. He was featured in political TV ads attesting to Richard Mourdock’s character and resilience.

At the height of the global economic meltdown in 2008, Romney went on record as being adamantly opposed to any efforts by President Obama, and President Bush before him, to bail out Detroit. Insisting that allowing the American auto industry to go through bankruptcy would be nothing short of cathartic, Romney posited back then that “there's no question but that if you just write a check that you're going to see these companies go out of business ultimately."

But at last week’s third and final presidential debate, Romney tried as he’s furtively done a few times since, to walk back from that position. He now claims that he said or meant to say that “they need -- these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy. And in that process, they can get government help and government guarantees, but they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden that they'd -- they'd built up.”

Perhaps nowhere is Romney’s ambiguity and unending intractability more morose than with regards to Medicare. In the past, he suggested that replacing Medicare with a voucher system in which seniors would be allowed to choose between private insurance and a competing public plan and then receive federal help to pay for the coverage was the only legitimate road to long-term solvency—a position that, but for the abject lack of specificity, eerily approximates the proposals in the House GOP’s budget once championed by and named after Ryan, his vice presidential candidate.

Today, in slick TV ads and in campaign stump speeches, Romney repeatedly assails President Obama in one breadth for not reducing Medicare spending but also for trimming it to unconscionable levels. He even proceeds to claim that he has the plan that would save the program for current beneficiaries and future generations.

And then, there’s Romney’s tax plan. Like many Republican lawmakers in Congress who signed on to Grover Norquist’s no-tax-increase pledge, Romney was unmistakable and unapologetic about his opposition to President Obama’s efforts to raise taxes on the super-rich since, to Romney, they are the owners of the small businesses that are the engines of job creation in the country.

Later, Romney pledged a 20 percent across-the-board reduction in tax rates for all. He also promised to cut tax breaks that notoriously favor the wealthy and reduce overall spending.

However, when prodded, Romney really could neither offer any specifics as to which tax expenditures and spending programs would be cut nor could he elucidate which current breaks for middle- and working-class Americans would be deemed off limits.

Now, it’s easy for one to dismiss the core premise or line of reasoning behind this article if it were based on just one solitary or isolated case of a person doing what most humans do as the availability of new information naturally compel them to revisit past decisions/positions. What seems clear is that with Romney, there is a discernible pattern of deception and incompleteness deliberately configured to obfuscate and mislead.

Consequently, you really never know where Romney truly stands on any issue. On any given day and with any particular issue, you’d be hard-pressed to know which Romney would show up; whether you’d be greeted by Mr. Hyde, the stone-faced scrooge willing to summarily dissolve FEMA and privatize disaster management functions or Dr. Jekyll, the smiling business tycoon promising eternal riches (12 million new jobs and the like) built on an economic foundation of quicksand.

Having someone like Mitt Romney who has shown time and again that he simply does not have the intestinal fortitude to clearly declare and resolutely stand on a position relative to the key issues that confront us as a nation, and at a time when, to Romney’s own admission, the entire world is looking to us for LEADERSHIP, could prove extraordinarily catastrophic.

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      Arinze Oduah 

      5 years ago

      Thanks for these insights. While they help throw more light on the greasy agenda of Romney, they also highlight the penumbra of views between the Democrats and the Republicans. In this election, to vote on the basis of ideological conviction, you will need to answer the question: how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

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