The Washington Post

Mitt Romney’s ‘Argo’-style warm-up

In the very good film “Argo,” six American diplomats caught in Iran and unwilling to become hostages to that scowling ayatollah, pose as members of a Canadian film crew to make their escape. They each assume the identity of a fictitious Canadian and have to practice reciting that person’s biographical details. It was at that moment that I thought of Mitt Romney. I imagine he begins his day the same way.

“Your name is Mitt Romney,” some aide says by way of warm-up. “You are a severely conservative Republican with the usual severely conservative positions on everything.”

“What’s my position on abortion?” Romney asks.

“Good question, sir. The other day you slipped. You said that as president you would initiate no legislation. This suggested reasonableness and upset what you call the ‘outpatient wing’ of your party. It also contradicted your pledge to gut Planned Parenthood by depriving it of all federal funding. These were your words, sir. ‘There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.’ Sir, this is wrong.”

“I knew it, I knew it. The minute the words came out of my mouth, I knew something was wrong.”

“Yes, sir. So now tell me, what is your position on abortion?”

“I’m opposed.”


“Rape. Life of the mother. Exceptions.”


“I’ve evolved. Over time. I used to be wrong. Now I’m right.”

“Right. Tell me your position on guns.”

“I’m opposed.”

“No! No, you’re not.”

“Right. Yes. Second Amendment. The Constitution. Founding Fathers. Went hunting once. Killed a bear.”

“That was Daniel Boone, sir.”



“Still, I killed something. A whatchamacallit. A varmint.”

“Quick! Taxes.”

“Never raise ‘em.”

“Good. What if our credit rating is going to suffer?”

“Have to cut spending?”

“Into Medicaid?”

“Gonna change it. Make it better.”

“Good. Medicare?”

“Same thing.”

“Good. What’s your health-care plan?”

“Make it better. Not be like Europe where everyone’s covered and no one worries about the expense and avail themselves of preventative services …”


“Just kidding.”

“No more kidding. People will see through your false identity. One slip and they will question everything. Your candidacy is on the line. Quick: Corporations.”

“Not people. People are people. I misspoke when I said they were people. Inelegant language. I was referring to the legal principle. Corporations are definitely not people and therefore can have an abortion.”


“I think I’ve lost my mind.”

“Time for a break, sir.”

Richard Cohen writes a weekly political column for The Washington Post.


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