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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Romney reassessment?

The first in-depth look at the chameleon-like career of our soon-to-be-former governor appears on the front page of the Washington Post. Willard Mitt may well be correct in skulking out of the Statehouse in the dead of night.

The nation press on Romney for the most part has been uncritical to downright fawning as has been noted here on many occasions. Profiles have accepted at face value the claim uttered by Eric Ferhnstrom in describing the Romney "legacy,"leaving aside for the time being whether this is a "mainstream conservative" stance:
The governor should be judged on his four-year record in office in one of the most liberal states in the country," he said. "He has governed as a mainstream conservative. He's gone after wasteful spending; he's defended traditional marriage; he pushed to bring abstinence education to the classroom; he fought against embryonic cloning and stood up and vetoed an emergency-contraceptive bill."
But more significant are the second and third paragraphs of the story, which takes on the Romney "mainstream" claim much more prominently than anything else to date.

It was not always so. Twelve years ago, Romney boasted that he would be more effective in fighting discrimination against gay men and lesbians than Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), distanced himself from some conservative policies of the Reagan administration, and proudly recalled his family's record in support of abortion rights.

The apparent gulf between the candidate who ran for the Senate in 1994 and the one getting ready to run for president has raised questions as to who is the real Mitt Romney. Is he the self-described moderate who unsuccessfully challenged Kennedy in the year of the Republican landslide, the self-described conservative now ready to bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, or merely an ambitious and adaptable politician? The answer could be crucial to Romney's presidential ambitions.

A good smile, a healthy head of hair and nice suits can only take you so far -- even in the popularity contest that has become the presidential campaign. Romney has been adept at avoiding accountability for his record in Massachusetts (lackluster is a word that comes to mind) and his penchant for shifting in the mind is now being thoroughly examined at home and even "out there."

The nation has suffered a lot at the hands of the "compassionate conservative" who touted himself as a "uniter, not a divider." It would be devastating to elect yet another politician who offers platitudes that mask inherent intellectual and political dishonesty.

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