Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Sure Contender for Political Understatement of the Year

Somewhat surprisingly (at least to me), the editors of National Review endorsed Mitt Romney for president today. There was little doubt that a majority of NR bigwigs supported Romney, but I had assumed there were enough dissenting voices inside the mag to prevent an endorsement before the first primaries began. Obviously, that assumption was wrong.

The actual text of the endorsement is interesting, though it contains no new insights into the GOP race. The editors discuss the weaknesses of the other candidates in some depth (although not in ways that are unseemly), but, speaking of Mitt admit only that

Some conservatives question his sincerity. It is true that he has reversed some of his positions.

The editors quickly move on to argue that "we should be careful not to overstate how much he has changed."

Mitt Romney has a number of qualities (as far as I can discern) that one would wish a president to have. However, to argue that consistency is one of them is simply hogwash. He has radically changed his positions not just on abortion, but on gay marriage, taxes, immigration, campaign finance regulation, and a number of other matters. He has gone from being a moderate, Massachusetts-electable Republican to, as NR puts it, "the most conservative viable candidate" in the race. More importantly (in my view), it seems that those changes in viewpoint largely occurred only after he began to seriously consider running for president. The 2000 and 2007 versions of Mitt Romney are more different than those of any other major candidate in the race, Republican or Democrat.

"Some conservatives question his sincerity"? "It is true that he has reversed some of his positions'? Indeed.

(Full disclosure: I am running as a delegate for Rudy Giuliani to the February 15 West Virginia GOP candidate selection conference. As I'll discuss later, my assessment of Rudy is more than a bit ambivalent, but if a WV GOP primary election were held today he would be my choice and I think he's worth actively supporting. )

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