Political Animal


October 25, 2011 12:30 PM No Profile in Courage award for you, Mitt

By Steve Benen

Ohio voters will head to the polls in two weeks and will weigh in Gov. John Kasich’s (R) new law to cut state workers’ collective bargaining rights. Labor and its allies have reason to be optimistic about the vote on SB5 — a Quinnipiac poll released this morning found 57% of Ohioans support repealing the anti-worker law, while only 32% want the law left intact.

A successful repeal effort would be a triumph for unions, who began collecting petition signatures soon after Kasich signed the bill into law in March. Progressive activists quickly formed We Are Ohio and turned in nearly 1.3 million signatures to force the issue onto the November ballot. Kasich is trying to rally support for his SB5 law, but it’s not working — not only does the public oppose the attack on collective bargaining rights, but the governor’s own approval rating has slipped further to 36%.

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, stopped by a Republican campaign office in the state this morning to lend his support — sort of.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a 45-minute visit to a Terrace Park Republican phone bank operation this morning, where volunteers have been making thousands of phone calls to voters urging yes votes on state issues 2 and 3.

But Romney, who would not speak to the media, told Ohio Republican Party chairman Kevin DeWine as he left the building on Wooster Pike in Terrace Park that he was not endorsing either Issue 2 — which would repeal the GOP backed bill that limit collective bargaining for public employees, or Issue 3, which would allow Ohioans to opt out of the mandatory health care coverage portion of the health care law passed by Democrats in Congress last year.

“I’m not saying anything one way or the other about the two ballot issues,” Romney told DeWine. “But I am supportive of the Republican party’s efforts here.”

CNN’s Peter Hamby called it an “incredible moment,” and that seems like a fair description.

Think about what transpired: the Republican presidential frontrunner visited with a Republican phone bank to offer support for the Republican campaign to curtail collective bargaining rights. But Romney refuses to take a position on the issue? He’s “supportive” of their efforts, but he won’t say whether or not he agrees with their efforts?


Putting aside party and ideology, it’s hard to shake the realization that Mitt Romney lacks a certain political courage. He’s so desperate to calculate how every decision might affect his ambitions that he struggles to remember what he believes, and either ends up cowardly ducking issues or taking both sides of nearly every fight. It can be hard to watch, and even harder to respect.

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
  • TCinLA on October 25, 2011 12:42 PM:

    If there has ever been a politician more worthy of the descriptive term "an empty suit," I don't know who it is.

    He "supports the Republican Party" but won't support what they're doing? That is an absolutely astonishing new low

    How we got to the point where a piece of slime like this can be taken seriously for anything let alone the presidency, is beyond me.

  • Ohioan on October 25, 2011 12:43 PM:

    So.... Romney is supportive of the fact that Terrace Park has an outbound call center. He doesn't care what they are doing right now with all their dialling and calling, but is simply supportive of how they can pick up phones and you know, call people.

    The volunteers could probably do the same thing for other causes - for example, oh I don't know, say Schmitt Schmomney for President?

  • Wow on October 25, 2011 12:45 PM:

    I'm not a Republican voter, but I just don't see how wins the nomination or the presidency with this kind of crap. At one point, I thought that the GOP's hatred of Obama would give them the cover to vote for Romney, but I don't know. Romney is so transparently craven that I don't see how he gets voters as rigid as the far right wing of the GOP. Does he really think he can get the GOP nomination and then start heading to the Left and he won't get punished for it?

    If Romney wins the nomination, a Ross Perot type situation is pretty much assured.

  • c u n d gulag on October 25, 2011 12:47 PM:

    Sweet Jesus, how long does it take this guy to order a meal from a restaurant menu?

    Im not saying anything one way or the other about the Meat entree's, Romney said. But I am also supportive of the Fish's efforts here.

    Mitt, take a stand!
    ANY STAND!!!

  • g on October 25, 2011 12:48 PM:

    Time to ask Mitt the Ted Kennedy question "Why do you want to be President" because it doesn't appear Mitt knows the answer.

  • Bob M on October 25, 2011 12:50 PM:

    I like "lacks a certain political courage" a lot more than calling him a flip flopper. He's go a pampered look, and lack of courage fits with the image, for it's the first question anybody asks about the pampered. Ch-ch-ch-ch-icken-n-n-n.

  • Danielle Taylor on October 25, 2011 12:54 PM:

    Romney used to be a candidate that I would vote for. However, with his constant flip flops and waffling, I don't have any confidence in him.

  • Nisl on October 25, 2011 12:54 PM:

    Wow says, "If Romney wins the nomination, a Ross Perot type situation is pretty much assured."

    Exactly!!!! Nothing will get a third party/no party candidate in faster than a Romney win.

    What is amazing to me about Mittens going to a phone bank that is working for a cause he is not willing to say he supports is that it plays so easily into Mittens pre-existing narrative as a flip-flopper. Pre-existing narratives can be a game changer, especially if you are stupid enough to feed into them like Mittens obviously is.

    I'm waiting for the "Ultimate Romney." The "Ultimate Romney" is what is known by political scientist as "Peak Waffle." For Mittens the "Ultimate Romney" will take place when, after surveying the GOP base and their concerns, Romney switches religions.

  • DAY on October 25, 2011 1:04 PM:

    Mitt says things that nobody will remember in a month or two. or ten. He is simply keeping his name in focus, while his competitors are trying to out crazy each other.

    If, in the unlikely event that the media calls him on these "former" statements (that was then, this is now) he will just say it is time to move on. To quote the Gipper: "THERE YOU GO AGAIN!"

  • DRF on October 25, 2011 1:09 PM:

    While I agree with your characterization of Romney, I can't say I blame him for not taking sides on Issue 2--it's a strictly state issue and, as a Presidential candidtate, he is well advised to steer clear of getting into the weeds on state issues if he doesn't have to.

    What is inexplicable, though, is why his campaign had him make a stop at the phone bank operation if he wasn't going to endorse their efforts. That's just bad decision-making on the part of his campaign staff and him.

  • MattF on October 25, 2011 1:11 PM:

    Courage? Ha Ha. I'm reminded of a remark about Kurt Waldheim-- he doesn't need a backbone because he has an exoskeleton.

    Added: there are greek letters in the captcha.

  • liam foote on October 25, 2011 1:17 PM:

    Battle lines have been drawn for the title of "emptiest suit" between Willard the bobblehead and the GOP nudge from Virginia.

    Just as John Kerry could be uninspiring and even unlikeable, Romney's approval ratings continue to hover in the low to mid-20's. He may finesse the GOP nomination but I have now come to the conclusion that most independents and even a good number of those leaning toward the GOP will not vote for this nonentity.

  • chi res on October 25, 2011 1:24 PM:

    No Profile in Courage award for you, Mitt

    But for the sixth year running, we are proud to present you with the Waffle House Waffler of the Year award!

  • SadOldVet on October 25, 2011 1:24 PM:

    If you would just read Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy, you would see that he devoted a full chapter to Mittens! Not

  • bobbo on October 25, 2011 1:25 PM:

    I am beginning to think the Mittster is making a conscious effort to make "finger in the wind shape-shifting flip-flopper with no core beliefs" his brand.

  • chi res on October 25, 2011 2:02 PM:

    I am beginning to think the Mittster is making a conscious effort to make "finger in the wind shape-shifting flip-flopper with no core beliefs" his brand.

    Romney has his "finger in the wind", all right, the middle one, aimed directly at the poor and middle class!

  • pamelabrown on October 25, 2011 2:06 PM:

    If, Willard, the Mittster, is the republican nominee-which I think he'll be by default-I'd love to see at the Dem Convention, distribution of Ken dolls in a suit with flip flop foot wear.

    A whole new cottage industry could develop just by making/selling Ken/Romney doll clothes. Hell, why not hold a contest, like "Project Runway": develop a wardrobe for the "Romney Doll".

    Great fun for the creative types.

  • pamelabrown on October 25, 2011 2:18 PM:

    P.S. One could name the collection "(NO)Profiles in Courage", complete with "magic underwear" stamped with a flip-flop pattern. Add a t-shirt collection with choices like "WhichMitt.com" and another with a cartoon of the freaked Romney dog on top of the "vacationing" Romney family car.

  • Gandalf on October 25, 2011 2:31 PM:

    There really are only two words that accurately describe Romney"spineless jellyfish".

  • Charles Almon on October 25, 2011 2:32 PM:

    That Romney is the BEST this pathetic party can come up with is an embarrassment to the two-party system.

  • biggerbox on October 25, 2011 4:08 PM:

    I think that, for Romney's own good, he has to be kept out of the White House.

    He's spent so long carefully turning every-which-way and calculating what posture is most likely to get him to the Presidency that, if he were finally elected, he's likely to have a complete nervous breakdown. At the very least, once in office, he wouldn't know what to do, since every second of the last few years has only been about getting there, not what to actually DO there. It would be the all-time "be careful what you wish for" moment.

    Imagine what would happen when they tried to get him to pick a color for the carpet in the Oval Office. His head might pop off.

  • rexmanrt on October 25, 2011 6:18 PM:

    "its hard to shake the realization that Mitt Romney lacks a certain political courage"

    Much ado about little? I don't care. Anything that will help to get Romney out is fine with me. Imagine what kind of judge(s) he would nominate for the Supreme Court.

  • JohnR22 on October 26, 2011 10:12 AM:

    IMO Romney can easily beat Obama...but only if he can prevent Obama from portraying Romney as a RIght wing extremist. Therefore, Romney needs to be very careful of taking positions that Independent voters would view as extreme.

    That said, I think Romney made a mistake here. Efforts to curtail public union collective bargaining has overwhelming support among voters. More importantly it's ESSENTIAL that it be done in order to reestablish some degree of fiscal sanity.

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