Not To Be Believed, Anyway
Yesterday, according to The New York Times reported
Mr. Romney made his most extensive remarks on immigration since President Obama announced last week that he would use executive authority to allow many young people who are in the country illegally to avoid deportation. Mr. Romney reiterated his support for giving legal status to illegal immigrants who serve in the military, and said he would “staple a green card” to the diplomas of immigrants who receive advanced degrees.
But most of the media coverage of Mitt Romney's speech Thursday before the annual conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials justifiably emphasized the candidate's pliability on issues. Romney
did not repeat the language he used during the primary season about encouraging illegal immigrants to “self-deport,” and he did not address Arizona’s controversial law, now before the Supreme Court, that requires law enforcement officers there to demand proof of immigration status when they suspect someone might be in the United States illegally. But he remained vague about whether he would leave in place the temporary measures taken by Mr. Obama to allow young people to remain in the United States.
Imagine my shock that the presumptive GOP nominee, who has yet not figured out whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Act, has taken a pass on yet another issue. This should not have been unexpected. On Sunday, CBS' Bob Schieffer asked Romney six (6) times whether he would repeal the order from DHS. The clearest Romney got- on the fifth attempt- was "Well, it would be overtaken by events, if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution with-with legislation which creates law that relates to these individuals, such that they know what their- their stat- setting is going to be." Shorter Romney: I won't tell you what my policy will be before the unknown legislation I propose is enacted.
But... would it have mattered what Mitt Romney would have told a group of Hispanic officials? Author and investigative reporter Wayne Barrett, formerly of The Village Voice but now a contributor at Newsweek/The Daily Beast, described the effort of journalist R.B. Scott, who has written a biography of the former governor, to "recount the "numerous trips Romney has taken to the mountaintop to square his positions on social issues like abortion and gay rights with the church hierarchy." Barrett learned
In 1993, Romney went to Salt Lake with a Mormon pollster and poll results showing that he couldn’t win in Massachusetts without moderating his positions on those sorts of issues. “They realized it would serve no purpose to quibble—the greater good was to get him elected and give him a shot at realizing the victory his father booted 40 years earlier,” Scott writes. “Did they see him as a future presidential candidate? Did he? Do the statues of Angel Moroni atop every Mormon temple always face east?”
In other words, Scott is contending that the church in effect licensed Romney’s better-than-Kennedy promises on gay rights, as well as his pink flyers at the Gay Pride Parade in 2002 that beckoned: “All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference.”
Once he was elected, Barrett explained, the Governor did an about-face
telling South Carolina Republicans in 2005, “Some [gays and lesbians] are actually having children born to them.” He derided Massachusetts as “San Francisco east,” and this year claimed he prevented it from becoming “the Las Vegas of gay marriages."
He even eliminated the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, a panel that funded programs for gay teens and was founded by his Republican predecessor.
Romney might have explained his reversal as a response to changed circumstances or to acquiring additional understanding of the issue since the campaign. But, no, the guy who would assault a classmate in high school and impersonate an authority figure (a police officer) in college, would take a different tack. Scott quotes the authors of The Real Romney, who note
On gay rights in particular, it is not that his positions have changed, Romney suggested, but that his audience has. "Now someone will say 'Yes, but look at what you wrote in 1994 to the Log Cabin Club,'" he said. "Well, okay, let's look at that in the context of who it's being written to."
"The Real Romney," it seems, is an "in your face" kind of guy- except, of course, when he needs the votes, or at least to avoid the active hostility, of some interest group or another. What Mitt Romney says on the campaign trail should not be taken as a preview of how he would govern as President of the United States. He will respond to whatever group, presumably right-wing Republicans and the corporate executives they pal around with, puts the greatest pressure on him. Think of it as ideological flexibility.