Mitt Romney can’t translate his carefully manufactured aura of inevitability into reality because no one believes he is who he says he is. We all know this. But after his triple loss last night, I’m convinced that Romney’s problems with the Republican primary electorate and voters in general go deeper. They sense a lack of character in someone for a job that requires bedrock principles and core beliefs. And as far as I can tell, Romney has none.
In an op-ed for the Washington Examiner last week, Romney declared that President Obama is waging a war on religious liberty with the new rules on contraceptive coverage in health care plans. He was at it again in Colorado on Monday when he railed that churches and affiliated agencies “have to provide for their employees, free of charge, contraceptives, morning-after pills — in other words abortive pills and the like at no cost.”
Yet, according to a May 1994 Boston Herald story, Romney said, “I think it would be a positive thing to have women have the choice of taking the morning-after pill. … I would favor having it available.” Conservative radio host Steve Deace has conveniently compiled Romney’s greatest pro-choice hits. They make for interesting reading.
When California’s Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday that state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, Romney slammed the decision. “[U]nelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage,” he said in a statement. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written....”
Yet, as a candidate for Senate in 1994 against the late-Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), he told Bay Windows, a Boston gay newspaper, “I think the gay community needs more support from the Republican Party and I would be a voice in the Republican Party to foster anti-discrimination efforts.” In a letter that same year, Romney boasted, “If we are to achieve the goals that we share, we must make, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will.” Romney’s gay-reatest hits were compiled in last week’s issue of the Washington Blade.
Where one stands on a woman’s right to choose and on equality for gay people is a matter of conscience. Changing one’s mind in either arena should be done with care and thought, especially by politicians seeking the public trust. Doing an about-face on abortion or gay rights is not cause for suspicion. But reversing your beliefs on abortion, gay rights, gun control, climate change and your own health care plan in the space of an election cycle most definitely is. It bespeaks a person of unmoored convictions. One with a malleable inner core. One, quite frankly, who cannot be trusted.
The consequences of this sense of Romney are there for all to see as folks in the GOP openly plea for a Superman or woman to swoop in and save their electoral prospects. John Avlon and Ron Brownstein point to the lower vote totals for Romney, the lower turnout in recent contests, the antipathy of conservatives and Tea Partyers and the loss of support among independents. But the evidence was most stark in The Post-ABC News poll. A stunning 52 percent said the more they heard about Romney the less they liked him. This is a character flaw that a deluge of super PAC dollars can’t fix.