Political Animal


September 23, 2011 3:40 PM Race to the flip-flop

By Steve Benen

One of Mitt Romney’s advantages as a presidential candidate is that he’s done this before. Many of his more dramatic flip-flops occurred four or five years ago, leaving the former governor to be relatively consistent since.

At least that’s the general idea. Romney, however, is so prolific in his reversals, he keeps breaking new ground. I think videos like these are pretty brutal.

For those who can’t watch clips online, this one is pretty straightforward: Romney told a Florida audience on Wednesday that he supports many of the provisions in President Obama’s “Race to the Top” education reform policy. Last night, just a day later, Romney denied supporting “any particular program” in the president’s policy. The clip, from American Bridge, highlights the contradicting positions plainly — what Romney was for on Wednesday he was against on Thursday.

Now, in a national context, most conservatives probably don’t much care about “Race to the Top.” In fact, in Congress, even some Republican lawmakers have offered tepid praise for the policy. The fact that Romney had some positive things to say about Obama’s program probably wouldn’t have caused much of a stir. This generally isn’t an issue that stirs passions for a large percentage of the electorate.

The point, though, is the ugly habit Romney has of taking one position on an issue and then soon after taking the exact opposite position. In this case, the 180-degree turn on education policy took literally just one day.

And then Romney has the chutzpah to boast, “I stand by my positions”? Seriously?

I can vaguely understand how Romney became a leading presidential candidate. How anyone trusts his word, however, remains a mystery to me.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • kevo on September 23, 2011 4:26 PM:

    Self-respect seems to be the first bloody casualty among the Republican presidential candidates this year!

    They'd die of the redness caused by their shame if they had any! But no self-respecting human being I know would so blantantly show himself to be a horse's ass if given the opportunity time and again not to be! -Kevo

  • navamske on September 23, 2011 4:31 PM:

    "And then Romney has the chutzpah to boast, 'I stand by my positions'?"


  • DAY on September 23, 2011 4:38 PM:

    At the moment Presidential Politics is the same as Fantasy Football. A very small, hardcore group of fanatics are paying close attention. The rest of the population cannot name either senator- or two of the three branches of government.
    We are having fun here, but don't expect the great unwashed to give a damn.

  • Wayne on September 23, 2011 5:28 PM:

    Steve -

    When you were the "carpetbagger" you had a list of Jukebox John McCain's flips. Maybe you could start a list of Romney's chocolate box.

  • Texas Aggie on September 23, 2011 6:39 PM:

    He became a leading republican presidential candidate because the competition is even worse, much worse.

    And given the context of his comment about standing by his positions, it wasn't that far off considering that the positions he was standing by were the ones in his book that he was contrasting with Goodhair's book where Goodhair has walked back on many of them.

    Right now I wouldn't be too concerned about Romney and what his position du jour happens to be when we may end up with Goodhair as president. A person with no particular position is not nearly as dangerous as one whose rock hard positions are noxious for the public's well-being.

  • Kenneth Almquist on September 24, 2011 3:02 AM:

    Remember Bush's repeated claim that his plan cut the taxes of everybody who paid income taxes? Not true, but it would have been easy enough to tweak his plan a bit to make it true. He *chose* to get caught in a lie, presumably believing that what the Republican base wanted a candidate who was a (good) liar.

    Romney's problem isn't to convince Republicans that he is an honest man; it's to convince the Republican base that he is an accomplished liar who will use that skill to advance the right wing agenda.