Romney: Flip-Flopping or Open Minded?

We all want others who don't see things our way to change their minds.  When they do we are pleased.  Those who refuse to change their minds appear stubborn, dogmatic, contentious, and closed to new ideas.

Is Romney a flip-flopper?  It's a valid charge, although I disagree with the tone of the expression.  I prefer to call it open-minded and flexible.  Remember Clinton moving to the center after he lost Congress in his first midterm election cycle?  Was that bad?  No.  Clinton flipped and flopped all the way to the welfare reform act, reducing capital gains taxes, and reelection.  Or put it this way: Suppose your previous girl friend loved tulips.  Extrapolating and being romantic, you therefore bring your wife tulips for your anniversary, but she yawns and says she doesn't like tulips.  Are you going to bring tulips next time?  If you're smart, you'll bring roses.  Ramming tulips down her throat isn't going to get you points.  I see no problem with Romney bringing tulips to Massachusetts and Roses to the country.

Everyone agrees Romney is a great executive.  What do executives do?  They get things done.  He did it with Bain.  He did it with the Olympics.  They find the best, most practical way to get agreement and move things forward.  His critics argue he was the governor of a blue state and said what he had to say to get elected, compromising his values to get things accomplished.  Duh.  RomneyCare was something MA wanted.  They got it.  America wants ObamaCare to disappear.  That wish will be granted.  He will flip-flop (also known as understanding those who elected you and what they want) all the way to banishing ObamaCare.  Which conservative among you has criticized Obama because he pushed ObamaCare even though the citizenry didn't want it?  Like all dogmatic people, he believed everyone would "come around" as soon as they understood it.  Now, wouldn't you be pleased if he flipped and got rid of ObamaCare?  Wouldn't you approve if he flopped and approved Keystone?  Of course you would.  Flip-flopping is okay -- no, required -- when times change.  We elect politicians because they are supposed to reflect our wishes and carry them out.  Flip-flop like a live fish on a pier - whatever.  Just do what we want.

The real key here is the legislative branch.  Romney will lead, but he will work with the desires of the Congress.  If we want conservative legislation, we especially need to elect conservative Senators and Representatives to go with any Republican president.  And, come a tight battle for a particular bill, I would submit that Romney will have a much better chance of getting key Dems to go along than someone like Gingrich.

Okay, I emphatically agree that, even though someone who will do what we want is desirable, we also want a president who sincerely shares our values.  That way any influence he feels compelled to muster would be in a direction we want.  But, is there really any doubt that Romney is a down-deep conservative?  I refer to Romney's concession speech ceding the nomination to McCain.  Nothing there that can be construed as non-conservative.  Nothing.  I believe this speech is the true Romney.  Although he may have had future presidential aspirations, the primaries were over, and he was not under pressure to say anything he did not sincerely feel. I believed him at the time, and I do now.

And why is the base disgruntled with Romney's purported lack of conservatism anyway?  Beats me.  In the 2007 primaries, conservatives liked Romney and complained that McCain was a wolf in GOP sheep clothing.  Romney is certainly no John McCain.  If I were to offer an answer to this puzzling question it would be this: When too much power congregates in one group, the group tends to get individually possessive and, therefore, fragmented.  The urge to work together takes back seat to the pursuit of individual preferences.  As William Pitt said, "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it." 

I think the conservative base believes (wrongly) that the GOP has such unlimited power.  They seem to believe that in the coming election anyone can beat Obama, and they all want their personally-perfect candidate.  What's more, they can't understand why other conservatives don't see everything the way they do.  (After all, we're all smart, right?)  Anyone less than their vision of the perfect candidate is not just imperfect; he's consequently horrible and therefore should be disqualified.  Therefore, a conservative-pleasing Mitt Romney of 2008 is not as appealing as an even more conservative Romney today.

Compounding the problem, the base is misled about the likelihood of the nation rejecting Obama  The way it looks today, beating Obama will not be an easy task, and a concerted effort by everyone on the sensible side of the isle needs to cooperate and understand Job One: Beat Obama.  Period.  So, get over the flip-flopping thing.

Unfortunately, independent voters are like vegetables; we may not like them, but we need them.  A more forceful and stubborn conservative candidate may make us feel good, but if they sway independents the other way, we lose.  If he needs to do a little flip-flopping to win votes, fine.  The mild-mannered approach Romney has towards conservatism is not alarming to the vegetables.