Friday, February 17, 2012

Two flavors of flip-flop

So conservatives hate flip-floppers, do they? Well, they'll get to choose between two different flavors of the type.

Romney has famously flipped on abortion, his political leanings, cap and trade, immigration, and (highest of treasons) health insurance mandates. In each case, he's flipped to being harder.

Santorum's flips have been less notorious. He's been walking back his opposition to homosexuality. In the past, he thought it was fine for states to criminalize homosexuality acts. Now, he'd love his son if he was gay (and suppress those lectures on unnatural sex acts, I guess). He's also flipped on raising the retirement age, auditing the Fed, teaching intelligent design as science, right-to-work laws, and No Child Left Behind. Santorum has usually flipped to being softer, except for his previous support for unions and national education initiatives.

This is an important distinction with you're a red-blooded conservative. Do you support the johnny-come-lately conservative, or the becoming-less-paleolithic conservative? Most red conservatives are going for the barely-escaped-the-paleolithic conservative.

For me, it's an easy choice. I hope that, under all his recent pandering, Romney is still a moderate. I also think he's the Republican most likely to address our deficit problems. With Santorum, I suspect it's lower on the priority list, somewhere below "Pursue expensive war on Iran."

I wonder who the whole of the Republican party, not just the hard-core conservatives, will choose. Is there room for a semi-moderate who pretends he isn't? We shall see.

Getting to be a GOP tradition...


Anastasios said...

Oh, I think Romney will come out with the nomination. The fundamentals of the race (money, schedule, party support) are with him, and he is a very smart and disciplined guy.

The question is how he will play in the general, and that depends largely (but not completely) on whether current economic trends continue. A lot of forcasters are going to have egg on their face if the trends do continue, but that is an occupational hazard. By and large they completely missed the crash, they have been expecting a recovery for three years that did not arrive, so it would be perfectly in keeping with their record that one arrives when they say it won't. Then again, they were trained by the people who forecast ten of two recessions in the 90s (and in many cases they are the same people).

At the moment I just don't know how things are going to break out. Two months ago I would have said advantage Romney. Now ... I just don't know. I think that the commentariat is right that he has made some unforced errors and revealed himself to be a surprisingly unlikeable sort (it's just so painfully obvious that he doesn't know how to act when he doesn't have the whip hand) but if the economy goes south that won't matter all that much. We will just have to see.

Anonymous said...

Let's remember that what politicians say, vote, promote and believe are often very differnt things. Among these, Santorum is probably the closest to consistent. I don't really care what politicians "believe" as long as they don't promote those beliefs as more important than facts and the law, particularly the Constitution.

So the flip-flops as you described from these two candidates are just marketing. I doubt their core beliefs on these issues are any different now than before, particularly since none has shared an "a-ha" moment that catalyzed a rethink.

Romney is clearly driven by personal ambition and ego -- barely attempts to hide that. Santorum supposedly has a more deeply-felt non-personal agenda, but that, too, is marketing. He uses economic dissatisfaction to get social agenda attempts promoted into law. Voters who don't agree with him on those social issues might still vote for him on more pressing economic concerns, but he'll take that as an affirmation of everything he believes in.

Romney would likely jsut go along to get along. So the end result would be the same. Just see what has happened in GOP controlled states. Suddenly, economic arguments are put aside for social issues (and political score-settling) since they can always just blame Obama.

I suspect that if elected, Santorum would govern like Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Romney would be more like Rick Scott in Florida.

ModeratePoli said...

@Anon, Thought-provoking comments.

"What politicians say, vote, promote and believe are often very differnt things" Agree, and I'm very wary of it. That's why I hope Romney would govern as a moderate.

Regarding Romney's ego--I see him as more humble than the other candidates except for Paul and the least ideological of all of them. I think he's ambitious to "fix" things, and the biggest fix-it project available is the US government. What is your impression?

I also agree about Romney as a get-along guy, and I worry about the same result as you.

Anonymous said...

I'm not on board with the conventional wisdom that the federal government is "broken" and needs a Mr. Fix-it. Certainly, if Romney thinks he's the guy to do it -- since he hasn't really presented a vision of what those fixes would be. He only talks about Obama's "lack of leadership" (not specific, of course, and it comes off as carping to me) which strikes me as chutzpah, if not egotism. (I think it's both.)

First, I don't recall Romney bashing Bush for lying the country into one war while botching another one. Or for creating a massive structural deficit solely for political gain and to serve the wealthy masters of the GOP.

Second, I don't hear Romney admitting to his party's past mistakes. He just blames Obama for not fixing things fast enough or the right way, in his opinion. He was quick to bash the auto bailouts but supported (at the time) the Wall Street bailout, but now he blames Obama for both.

Fortunately, it's Romney lack of conviction, honesty, vision and leadership which will make him so easy for a confident, intelligent, and practical person like Barack Obama to defeat him in November, should it come to that. Besides, people like Obama as a person and think he's pretty competent. As long as the economy doesn't tank, he'll win, fortunately.

Once the GOP no longer has Obama to bash in a vainglorious attempt to turn him into Jimmy Carter, I think you'll see the kind of policies that reduce the debt the RIGHT WAY (cutting offense spending -- aka 'defense'), immediate tax increases on the very wealthy and later, modest increases on the middle class when the economy fully recovers, and intelligent entitlement reform based almost entirely on means testing.

Note, of course, that if taxes go up one dime, to decrease the deficit or retroactively pay for the Bush wars, or anybody's Social Security or Medicare benefits are cut $1 under Obama and the Democrats, the GOP will use it to run against them for a generation, offering the free lunch and again caring little about the deficit if it interferes with their political agenda.

You can take my wager on it any time.

Anastasios said...


With regard to Romney not admitting Republican mistakes, I think you are, to an extent, looking for something that never happens. People rarely admit that they were wrong, either in social life or in family life or at work or in politics. It's just too painful. When they do admit fault, it is often a diversionary tactic, i.e. admitting to a lesser wrong to avoid admitting a greater one, taking a little pain to avoid a greater agony.

I agree with you that Romney has weaknesses. However, so does Obama, and I wouldn't be so ready to crown the President the victor just yet. There is a long way to go until November, and remember this is still the country that elected George W. Bush, surely a less impressive figure than Romney, twice. The economy will tell, most likely, and things are still looking fragile out there, particularly with spiking gas prices and European muddling.

I also tend to agree that a Romney faced with an activist Republican Congress would be a very, very weak firewall against all sorts of undesirable events. But if the people make that choice, as Ed Koch would say, the people will just have to take their punishment.

Anonymous said...

"Spiking gas prices" sounds like a talking point trying to become a media truth.

In the past three years, since the gas price run up well over $4 per gallon, then crash down to less than $2 per gallon in the depth of the Great Recession, gas prices have bounced around in the $3 to $3.50 range in my area.

Of course, that doesn't stop the GOP from proclaiming that "gas prices have doubled under Obama, a technically true lie designed to balme him for something subject to completely predictable fluctuations in a general rise.

How about the stock market? The market has added far more in value "under Obama", while going up and down over the past three years. "Under Bush", the market went nowhere FOR 8 YEARS. I don't see anyone in the GOP rushing to give him credit for it, but plenty ready to blame him for gas prices.

What most "moderates" like my dear MP want is non-adversarial problem solving from all elected officials regardless of party, am I right? I would be the first to sign up for that kind of politics, but the reality is that American politics an adversarial process between the two parties 24/7/365. Just like a jury verdict is for one side or the other, biennial elections decide who wins. That inevitably leads to a never-ending public litigation where truth is hardly that important when spin is what matters to the voters.

If you're disgusted with it -- and I think you are -- that's nothing compared to how I feel about it. But that's all we have right now. So I agree Obama is hardly a sure thing, either to get re-elected or to pursue policies that would satisfy everyone or anyone. But if the GOP is allowed to lie and distort themselves into a position of complete political power, or the Democrats simply stop litigating because they are as disgusted as you are, I see little hope for the country's future and I would be outta here.