Political Animal


October 19, 2012 5:20 PM To Know Him Is To Mistrust Him

By Ed Kilgore

It will have zero effect on a certain Romney landslide in Utah, but the particular wording and reasoning of the Salt Lake Tribune’s editorial endorsing Barack Obama will resonate far and wide. The “Trib” chose to write its repudiation of semi-favorite-son Mitt with the tone of someone familiar with a pol who’s sold his birthright for a mess of pottage:

Nowhere has Mitt Romney’s pursuit of the presidency been more warmly welcomed or closely followed than here in Utah. The Republican nominee’s political and religious pedigrees, his adeptly bipartisan governorship of a Democratic state, and his head for business and the bottom line all inspire admiration and hope in our largely Mormon, Republican, business-friendly state.
But it was Romney’s singular role in rescuing Utah’s organization of the 2002 Olympics from a cesspool of scandal, and his oversight of the most successful Winter Games on record, that make him the Beehive State’s favorite adopted son. After all, Romney managed to save the state from ignominy, turning the extravaganza into a showcase for the matchless landscapes, volunteerism and efficiency that told the world what is best and most beautiful about Utah and its people.

Sounds like the buildup to an endorsement, eh? Not hardly.

In short, this is the Mitt Romney we knew, or thought we knew, as one of us.
Sadly, it is not the only Romney, as his campaign for the White House has made abundantly clear, first in his servile courtship of the tea party in order to win the nomination, and now as the party’s shape-shifting nominee. From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: “Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?”
The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney’s next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.

The editorial eventually gets around to some measured positive comments about Barack Obama, but it’s clear from the headline—“Too Many Mitts”—that its main thrust is aimed at showing not everybody in Utah is buying this particular snowstorm.

The president is entertaining audiences today by referring to his opponent with his vast number of serpentine manuevers as someone suffering from “Romnesia.” The Salt Lake Tribune begs to differ: Mitt hasn’t forgotten a thing; he’s just doing whatever the political markets call for, and hoping voters suffer from Romnesia.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Mimikatz on October 19, 2012 5:41 PM:

    The SL Trib is correct, but Romnesia is an easier sell. Most people are fundamentally decent and have a hard time admitting that a pol they may have flirted with supporting is as craven, soulless, mendacious and unprincipled as Mitt Romney.

  • c u n d gulag on October 19, 2012 5:55 PM:

    If he had any human traits besides greed, wrath, and envy, this would sting.

    Oh, wait, he's got another one - PRIDE!
    So, yeah, that's gotta sting.

    Some of you might realize that those traits associated with him are 4 of the 7 Deadly Sins.
    Well, at least he isn't lustful, gluttonous, and slothful.

  • Rick B on October 19, 2012 6:16 PM:

    Interesting. The SL Trib article focuses its attention on who Romney is. It's my opinion that the conservatives politicians, experts that they are in character assassination, have made focusing on character that way politically dangerous for the opponent.

    In contrast, the term "Romnesia" focuses on his extremely inconsistent statements and behavior rather than on the nature of Romney's character. Romnesia can be easily demonstrated by contrasting statements Romney has given to different audiences.

    That makes proving Romnesia something that has objective and clear proof. Alleging character flaws becomes little more than a game of he said / he said with no tie breaker or evidence of truth.

    I wouldn't trust Romney to treat me fairly in a business deal or to hold my money, but that is my judgement on his character. If I were part of his Mormon tribe I'd trust him a lot more, but he clearly would not like be or treat me fairly. That's just my judgement of his character and can be objected to.

    Romnesia, however, appears to offer a much stronger reason to expect people to vote against Romney. All he can do is sputter and offer excuses, and we all know what excuses for failure are worth.

  • gregor on October 19, 2012 7:09 PM:

    Why is this semi-moron from Politico on my teevee on Chris Mathews making baseless speculations on the direction of the race?

  • Kathryn on October 19, 2012 8:21 PM:

    Amen Gregor, Politico "wise men" are regularly welcome on MSNBC. As we all know, Politico types, (VandeHai, Martin, Allen and the rest) are masters of false equivalency at best and apologists for the GOP more typically. They are lauded by Matthews and others as neutral and all knowing, which proves how out of touch these Washingon D.C. pundits can be.

    Matthews can be excellent at times, don't get me wrong, but he is way too reverential to Politico and hacks like Mark Halperin IMO.

  • Marc on October 20, 2012 9:04 AM:

    Shall we all remember that Romney has only one policy and one goal, to be President of the United States.

    The only question to ask is whether there is anything that he would not say ( I hesitate to speculate about what he would do) to reach that goal?

  • bigtuna on October 22, 2012 9:05 AM:

    The SL Trib is the non Mormon paper, and sometimes a bit of the "liberal" paper, owned by an out side corporation. So it isn't quite as big of a deal as you may think. It ain't like the Deseret News endorsing Obama [I am not sure if the DN even does endorsements, being owned by a company owned by the LDS church].

  • Dossevi on October 23, 2012 11:17 PM:

    Looking at yesterday's debate and at the many earlier conflicting positions the Governor quietly shifted or even blatantly reversed for reasons of expediency and convenience, one can only come to this conclusion:

    The Governor learnt the wrong lesson from his father's defeat at the hands of then former-VP Richard Nixon during the Republican nomination for the Presidential election of 1968. According to his Wikipedia biography, the one pivotal statement which prompted Gov. George Romney's loss was the following, made on August 31, 1967:

    "When I came back from Viet Nam [in November 1965], I'd just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get." He then shifted to opposing the war: "I no longer believe that it was necessary for us to get involved in South Vietnam to stop Communist aggression in Southeast Asia," he declared. Decrying the "tragic" conflict, he urged "a sound peace in South Vietnam at an early time."

    Yesterday's debate performance by Gov. Mitt Romney convinced me that rather than valuing his father's ability to believe in and defend principled positions, he came to the conclusion that the only shame there can ever be is in losing: As long as the goal is to win, you can always count on Governor Mitt Romney to say anything to get there by any means necessary.

    For reference, Gov. George Romney's Wikipedia page can be accessed at: