One thing seems sure — you won’t get “change” of any kind with Mitt Romney

This morning on the radio, I heard a discussion of what a challenge Obama has in his re-election effort getting young people to back him they way they did in 2008.

Those young people, the argument went, wanted “hope” and “change,” and didn’t get enough of it.

I can see how that might have the effect of dampening enthusiasm, perhaps even of suppressing turnout.

What I don’t see it doing is translating to support for Romney. Unless these young folks really delude themselves, or unless the change they want is of a rightward bent — in which case, they’re still deluding themselves.

And most of us know this. It’s why the GOP base went running to everyone else they could think of before settling on Romney — they knew he wasn’t a True Believer on the kind of change THEY wanted.

And I knew it, which was why I saw him as the most palatable candidate in the field — the real conservative. Romney is a manager. He wants to manage the nation to prosperity. And maybe he can do that. But he’s not a revolutionary, or a counter-revolutionary. He’s a manager.

Now you might throw at me various statements that he’s made or positions he’s taken that contradict that, to which I’ll say, Right. And he’s also the father of Obamacare, but you don’t see him acting like it, do you? As you may have noted, his positioning is somewhat… flexible… based on what he thinks is needed to get the job done at a given time.

I backed Romney — reluctantly — because I didn’t like the kind of “change” that the GOP field was offering this time around. Repealing Obamacare. Endangering the full faith and credit of the United States by absolutely insisting that budget cuts not be accompanied by any kind of tax increases. I didn’t want any of that stuff.

When McCain and Obama ran four years ago, there were changes I looked forward to with each. I believed McCain would manage the War on Terror much better than Bush had. I knew he had the courage to take on things like comprehensive immigration reform. With Obama, while being reasonably certain that he would NOT institute the kinds of national security changes his base hoped for (and I was right — in fact, he has pursued the war with a stronger hand than Bush, and gotten away with it) and he just might give us meaningful health care reform. I even sorta had hopes for a rational energy policy.

But Romney’s virtue, to me, is that he does not represent the kind of change that his party has stood for since 2010 (or perhaps I should say, since the day after Election Day 2008, which seems to be the moment that party went off the rails). That’s a good thing.

25 thoughts on “One thing seems sure — you won’t get “change” of any kind with Mitt Romney

  1. Steven Davis II

    So the choices are “no change” and “more of the same”. Kind of makes you excited about voting in November doesn’t it.

  2. `Kathryn Fenner

    He’s a true conservative, not a reactionary like so many wanted…or a crazy person, either. [whew]

  3. Doug Ross

    “I knew he (McCain) had the courage to take on things like comprehensive immigration reform.”

    He didn’t even have the courage to stick with his own plan during the campaign… and then did a complete 180 when he felt pressure in his re-election bid.

    McCain is worse than Romney when it comes to flip-flops. He’s all about staying in office for his own ego and financial reasons.

  4. Brad

    No, you’re using your own facts instead of the ACTUAL facts (I’m seeing a lot of that today).

    McCain was ALWAYS about securing the borders. That was always essential, because for him immigration was a national security issue — you have to know who is entering your country.

    What happened was that when the right wing of his party so adamantly rejected everything else that the plan he and Bush and Graham were pushing, and he knew he was going to get nowhere, he continued to push for securing the borders.

    People who had not paid attention to what he had said up until that point accused him of having turned around from “amnesty” to enforcing the law, because they never noticed that he’d been for securing the borders all along. His position wasn’t what his opponents had characterized it as being.

    Did McCain pander to the ideologues in order to stay in office? Yep, in terms of silly, embarrassing things such as insisting he’d never been a “maverick.” But his change on substantive issues such as immigration was basically a change of emphasis.

  5. Doug Ross

    Who isn’t for securing the borders? Even Obama throws that empty rhetoric out there all the time (while doing little).

    Facts are facts. Your interpretation of events through your fanboy goggles doesn’t make them facts. Your analysis of what you believe McCain REALLY meant when he said “Build the damn fence!” isn’t factual.

    How about we go to a factual source to get the truth:

    Here’s the key lines:

    “In 2005, McCain and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass, proposed a bipartisan plan that would increase border security, but also grant amnesty to illegal workers already in the country. The bill ultimately failed in the Senate.

    The near 180 degree flip in his position led conservative columnist Kathleen Parker to deadpan to ABC “Let’s just say that my cringe reflex is exhausted.” ”

    He would have been an awful President. All bluster and maverick-ness.

  6. Silence

    I don’t think he’s a true conservative, he’s a relative conservative though, compared to the current occupant of the White House.
    I also agree that he’s a very skilled manager. I’m not sure that even Braniac is able to manage the entire US economy….

  7. bud

    Brad, you really are engaging in a bit of revisionist history with McCain. Sure he may have been a secure the border guy all along but the fact that he completely gave up on the comprehensive plan is clearly a capitulation to the tea party types. Not sure how you can view it any other way. The comprehensive plan pushed by Bush/McCain/Graham was by necessity one that required all parts to be viable. Focusing on securing the borders alone was really a copout. Had McCain (and Graham for that matter) really been about bipartisan solutions they would have worked with the Democrats to make it happen after the 2008 election. If he was really as much of a maverick as you claim that would have been an easy pivot for him. But NOOOOO. He simply abandoned his principals and pushed for that one part of the immigration issue that suited the far, far right within his party. In other words he was pandering, plain and simple.

  8. Phillip

    “being reasonably certain that [Obama] would NOT institute the kinds of national security changes his base hoped for (and I was right — in fact, he has pursued the war with a stronger hand than Bush, and gotten away with it)”

    What were these changes the so-called base hoped for? As reasonably quick a drawdown from the misguided war (Iraq) as possible, according to the schedule Obama endorsed. A refocus on what was, after all, the original threat (Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and the Pakistan border region) before Bush/Cheney cynically exploited the deaths of 3000 innocent American civilians to advance their own previously-sought geopolitical goals. The reestablisment of diplomacy as one of our strongest foreign policy tools. A tilt away from unilateralism towards multilateralism. The reaffirmation of the American values worth defending by renouncing torture and other violations of international law, the closing of Gitmo, and the reaffirmation of fundamental American civil liberties by ensuring domestic surveillance stays within legal, constitutional bounds.

    Of all these, the only ones where Obama has fallen short (or stayed true to Bush-era principles, if you prefer) were the closing of Gitmo and the retention of most of the national security/surveillance apparatus. In every other area, Obama has carefully-not recklessly–recalibrated American foreign policy SIGNIFICANTLY from the Bush/Cheney era. No rational person can think otherwise. There are no John Boltons floating around in the Obama administration. Obama’s “base” may not agree with everything he has done, but 99% of them would choose the Obama record of the last four years in foreign policy over ANY slice of the Bush era. So I don’t think you can claim that Obama somehow “wised up” and decided to forego his base’s wishes in favor of sticking to a Bush-type course.

    Foreign policy is also about what you DON’T do. And Obama did not unilaterally launch any wars of choice. Had McCain won, would we have had the self-discipline to patiently increase the isolation and pressure on Iran short of war, while maintaining all possible channels of communication and negotiation? Or would we have leapt more quickly into a war with Iran?

    And this is why it’s dangerous to relax into a Romney “no radical change” prognosis…Even if you figure some of his more reckless, hawkish foreign policy statements have been calibrated for GOP primary-voter consumption, his foreign policy team is laden with losers from that glorious era of W and Cheney.

  9. tavis micklash

    “He didn’t even have the courage to stick with his own plan during the campaign… and then did a complete 180 when he felt pressure in his re-election bid. ”

    I’m never going to question the courage of anyone that flew fighter jets in Vietnam and was in a POW camp for 5 and a half years.

  10. Silence

    @tavis – “I’m never going to question the courage of anyone that flew fighter jets in Vietnam and was in a POW camp for 5 and a half years.” – Very true.

  11. Brad

    Phillip, I don’t know offhand what Obama’s base expected of him that he didn’t deliver. I’m just always hearing that they’re unhappy with him.

    But as I’ve written before, Obama has pursued the War on Terror (which his base insists on calling “the so-called War on Terror”) with a deadly, quiet effectiveness that puts the Bush administrations in the shade.

    As I wrote awhile back, the best way to put it is in “Godfather” terms: Bush was Sonny Corleone, the blustery, hot-headed guy who telegraphed his moves and ended up not being very effective (except at toppling regimes; I’ll give him that).

    Obama is Michael — the college boy everyone has marked as soft and “reasonable,” but who whacks the heads of the other four families all at once, without warning.

  12. bud

    As usual Phillip has some salient and well written points. I would only disagree slightly on one (and then only in emphasis), the surveillance  stuff. Gitmo really never seemed like a big deal to me. Closing it or not really didn’t seem to change the dynamics of retaining prisoners that should be tried and either convicted or released. Obama could be doing a bit better in that area but closing Gitmo doesn’t seem like a big deal in the overall scheme of things. Not sure why liberals made that such an important issue.

    As for the surveillance, that really is disappointing and should be a black mark on Obama’s overall security record. I really wish he’d go back to about 1999 on that issue.

  13. Brad

    I expressed it better in the original post, last May:

    “And then it hit me: In terms of the politics of projecting a credible threat that gets others to do what you want (an idea that I realize makes a lot of us squirm), George W. Bush was like Sonny Corleone. The blusterer, the guy you just know is going to jump in the car and come after you in a mad, blind rage if you touch his sister. The guy who doesn’t want to negotiate; he just wants Sollozzo dead. And ultimately, the guy who has trouble achieving all his goals.

    “Barack Obama, by contrast, is more like Michael. The clean-cut college kid who was never involved in the muscle end of the business, who held himself aloof from that, even expressed distaste for it. The guy who was supposed to be “Senator Corleone, President Corleone,” and not a wartime don. The guy who speaks softly and reasonably, and never utters a threat. The guy who takes out the heads of the other four New York families in one stunning stroke, right when you’ve forgotten about the bad blood. The guy who keeps on speaking reasonably after that, but nevertheless everybody respects him now, in the uomo di rispetto sense…”

  14. Brad

    Think about it… Mr. Tough Guy Bush ARRESTED Saddam Hussein, and put him on trial.

    And yet Mr. Negotiation Obama, representative of the party that wants to treat its enemies as criminals rather than, well, enemies, WHACKED bin Laden right when no one was expecting it. Killed him with extreme prejudice, and sent his body to sleep with the fishes.

    In Mob movie terms, Obama’s the guy you don’t f___ with. When he gets the opportunity to take out an enemy — even enemies who are American citizens — he doesn’t pause to study his law books (the way Gen. Tommy Franks did that time we had the chance to take out Mullah Omar early in the Afghan war), he acts.

  15. Silence

    @Brad – Would Joe Biden be played by Abe Vigoda or Robert Duvall in your “Dreams from my Godfather”?

    I don’t recally the Corleone’s eating dog meat. Meatballs, yes. Fido, no.

  16. bud

    Brad, pretty good analogy but perhaps not a perfect one. Obama did go after Bin-Laden but wasn’t he the ultimate enemy of the USA? Not sure that one example completely makes the case for Obama as Michael. Still, pretty good analogy.

  17. Brad

    Ah, but there are MANY examples. Not just bin Laden, but al-Awlaki, and that guy who was with him, and all those targets in Pakistan that Obama has gone after so much more aggressively and ruthlessly than Bush ever did.

    And think about Qaddafi. Wow. Bush had one success with Qaddafi — the invasion of Iraq scared him into giving up his pursuit of WMD. But he kept on being himself otherwise, so what did Obama do? Made like, Golly, I really don’t WANT to get involved in Libya, but if France and Britain INSIST, I guess I’ll go along, as long as the Libyan rebels handle the ground war…

    And the U.S. provides the critical air support (and more than mere “support” — air assets used aggressively to pound Qaddafi’s forces) that leads to Qaddafi’s downfall and ignominious death in the streets.

    The head of yet another family, taken out — just like that.

  18. Doug Ross

    @Tavis, Silence, Brad

    Ok. 40+ years ago, McCain demonstrated courage under fire in the most extreme circumstances.

    Since arriving in Washington, there has been no display of “courage” merely “political expediency”. And it has got worse in the past decade as he became more connected to the allure of Washington power. He’s on an ego trip most politicians travel in their long careers in public office. Unfortunately, his handlers can’t tell him that he blew the one shot he had to be President by being an awful candidate who made some of the dumbest decisions/statements in my lifetime. Aside from the Palin debacle which destroyed his credibility completely, he also pretended for a long time that there was no economic crisis. Add to that the abandonment of most of the key principles he held prior to the nomination and what we see is a political hack of the worst kind. Ego over values.

    Whatever courage he displayed 40+ years ago is for the history books.

  19. Phillip

    Bud, agreed as regards Obama and the surveillance apparatus and executive power. Lesson: Only Congress and the SCOTUS, through assertive action, can serve as a check on executive power. No executive branch, of EITHER party, will willingly yield power back, once it has been granted or it has seized it through executive order.

  20. Silence

    @ Doug – For a minute there, I thought you were talking about naval hero and former independent VP candidate James Stockdale.

  21. `Kathryn Fenner

    [like] again, what Phillip said.

    Gitmo is a tar baby of epic proportions. President Obama, as a constitutional law scholar, can well appreciate the huge mess that was created by detaining foreign civilians without observing any of the constitutional “niceties.” These may well be dangerous people, but in a country with principles, how do you prosecute them? You cannot legally justify detaining them further, yet you dare not release them without some care. You can’t just fabricate a system to prosecute them….

  22. Brad

    Obama and McCain both wanted to close Gitmo. But it was never practical to do so. Trying to wish it away is like trying to wish away the security problem that terrorism poses. We can wish all we want, but the problems are still there.

  23. Silence

    GWB and Cheney also wanted to close Gitmo. They also knew it wasn’t practical to do, and admitted as much.

    It’s funny how much more “read-in” on national security one gets when one is president, rather than a candidate.


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