Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Financial Time Columnist Gideon Rachman Illustrates the Ignorance of Smart People When It Comes to Mitt Romney

With a Blank Persona, Supporters Can Fill In What They Want

For what is hopefully a majority of American voters, the fact that Mitt Romney has absolutely no core values, no core beliefs and an ability to jettison whatever position he has taken on an issue in order to get votes is a huge negative.  If Mr. Romney loses, it will be in part because of disgust with the Republican brand and in part with disgust with Mr. Romney.

But for many people this lack of beliefs by Mr. Romney has been a plus, because they can pencil into his Presidency, if it occurs what they want.  The can do this even though they know and recognize the lack of principles on the part of Mr. Romney, as Financial Times writer Gideon Rachman does.  Here Mr. Rachman identifies the problem.

On domestic policy, Romney has promised both to dismantle Obama’s healthcare reform and to preserve its key features. He has promised both a massive tax cut and to get serious about balancing the budget. (This circle to be squared through the removal of unspecified tax breaks.) When it comes to foreign policy, he has sometimes been a tough-talking neoconservative. At other times, particularly during the last debate, he has sounded like Obama II.

Even looking at Romney’s advisers is not much of a clue. Inevitably, his team represents an effort to build coalitions and touch bases within the Republican party. So, on foreign policy, Romney has flirted with nationalistic paleo-cons such as John Bolton. But the man he appointed to oversee his foreign policy transition team was Robert Zoellick, who is a moderate, serious-minded internationalist with vast experience. 

But the FT columnist is unable to go the next step, and instead manages to conclude that Mr. Romney will be a nice moderate President.  We have seen this before, notably NYT Columnist David Brooks who also is blinded by the blank personalty of Mr. Romney and sees what he wants to see.

My guess is that the “real Romney” (assuming such a thing exists) is a moderate. His background in business and his record as a governor do not suggest that he is a fire-breathing social conservative. On the contrary, he comes across as a traditional boardroom Republican. That is certainly how he is perceived within his own party – where the genuinely severe conservatives have long regarded their presidential candidate with suspicion.

and like many foreigners fails to understand the power that a Republican Congress will have.

Some American liberals fear that the Republicans in Congress would drag Romney towards this radical agenda. Yet the probability is that at least one half of Congress will remain in Democratic hands. And, as Obama has discovered, it is very hard for a president to get much done when faced with a recalcitrant Capitol Hill. If he wanted to govern effectively, Romney would have to be the dealmaker from Bain – not the Tea Party radical.

not recognizing that the Senate can do much with 51 votes, and that all it takes is a few Democrats and Independent Angus King of Maine, who will be a Senator next year to move the process into the radical Conservative policy mode.

Like many Romney supporters, Mr. Rachman sees a lack of character and principles as a plus. 

Finally, there is the question of character. Romney’s record as a candidate suggests that he is a cold fish, without many fixed principles. These are not attractive qualities in a human being. But they would be useful qualities in a president.

But the last one like that was Richard Nixon.  How did that turn out?

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