Political Animal


November 04, 2011 12:30 PM ‘As consistent as human beings can be’

By Steve Benen

Several weeks ago, in one of the more amusing political claims of the year, Mitt Romney boasted, “I stand by my positions. I’m proud of them.” Given Romney’s record of abandoning every policy position he’s ever taken, it was hard not to marvel at his shamelessness.

Soon after, Romney reversed course, acknowledging he has changed his positions, but insisting that this is a good thing. “In the private sector,” he said, “if you don’t change your view when the facts change, well you’ll get fired for being stubborn and stupid.”

Now, Romney has reversed course again.

Mitt Romney, under fire from all sides on the strength of his political convictions, said Thursday he has been as consistent as a person can be during his political career.

“I’ve been as consistent as human beings can be,” the presidential candidate said in a meeting with the editorial board of New Hampshire’s Seacoast Media Group.

Just so we’re clear, Mitt Romney is now flip-flopping on flip-flopping. How very meta of him.

As for the substance, if Romney believes he’s been “as consistent as human beings can be,” he’s (a) lying to himself; (b) lacking any sense of self-awareness; or (c) believes human beings are completely incapable of consistency.

For what it’s worth, there are a couple of good sites devoted to tracking Romney’s flip-flops — Multiple Choice Mitt and Which Mitt both have accurate and worthwhile content — and I don’t envy their tasks. Given the frequency of Romney’s reversals, I would imagine these sites have trouble keeping up.

Indeed, Timothy Noah recently did some research to find if Romney had any — literally, any — core and unshakable beliefs that he’s maintained throughout his career. The only one? The fact that Romney wants to be president. Everything else, including every position on every issue, was optional.

The result is a shameless, craven politician who’s flip-flopped — including, apparently, on whether or not he flip-flops — like no other American politician in a generation.

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
  • c u n d gulag on November 04, 2011 12:38 PM:

    Mitt's not a flip-flopper.

    He's a f*cking rotary engine.

  • Stephen Stralka on November 04, 2011 12:49 PM:

    Well, to be fair, Mitt has always been entirely consistent in taking whatever position he thought the person he was talking to wanted to hear.

  • Mitch on November 04, 2011 1:04 PM:

    @ gulag

    "He's a f*cking rotary engine."

    Amen, my friend. All we need to do is hook him up to a powerplant and we'll have nearly free energy. We just have to keep him supplied with food, water and hair products. Who says perpetual motion is a fantasy? The Mittster moves in ways Newton never imagined.

  • fostert on November 04, 2011 1:14 PM:

    Talk about baiting Jon Stewart! The jokes just write themselves.

  • Bill on November 04, 2011 1:25 PM:

    Mitt has steadfastly maintained his chicken-hawkishness, and firmly instilled that character trait in his five sons. That is pretty consistent, isn't it?

  • Neil B on November 04, 2011 1:28 PM:

    Heh, Mitt is pitiful. How very meta of him. Cute. But if the corporatocrats want Mitt in to be their punk, the voters and media are too dumb/compromised/disinterested/... to stop him unless we push back real hard.

    Hey, cute idea: not to make it hard on admins, but we can try using the craptcha content as our handles up there, not that I did yet. Doncha love those accented characters like ũ?

  • square1 on November 04, 2011 1:32 PM:

    Can someone please explain to me the purpose of Benen's fixation on Romney's flip flops? Don't get me wrong. I'm not defending Romney at all. I am just saying that the level of attention given seems disproportionate to the relevance.

    I would assume that most of the readers of this blog were convinced long ago that, yes, Romney is a craven politician whose views shift with the breezes of politics. Benen isn't telling us anything we don't know.

    I just don't see Benen's end game here. Is he hoping for someone other than Romney to be the GOP nominee? I'm open to arguments on this score, but I fail to see how the likeliest alternatives (i.e. Perry, Santorum, Cain, Bachmann) are anything but obviously worse than Romney.

    With unemployment at roughly 9%, it seems more than a little risky and irresponsible to play the game of "Let's try to nominate the worst GOP candidate so that Obama has a better chance of victory."

    Or is Benen assuming that Romney will be the nominee and already laying the groundwork for attacks by Team Obama?

    OOH, I never criticize Democrats for starting early with their messaging. Often their attacks on the GOP are too little, too late.

    OTOH, many of the attacks that Benen has reported, including from the Hunstman camp, won't work if used by the Obama campaign. For example, Huntsman has repeatedly attacked Romney on the basis that Massachusetts compared less favorably to Utah on economic grounds when Romney was governor. The problem is that I can't think of too many liberals who want to see government less like Massachusetts and more like Utah. Is that really the argument that Obama wants to make in a campaign against Romney?

    A smart politician doesn't simply fling whatever weapon is at his disposal in the direction of his opponent. He makes sure that his attacks are coordinated and coherent. Otherwise you look like...well, Romney. Saying one thing one day and another thing another day.

  • Ian A on November 04, 2011 1:38 PM:

    "as consistent as a *person* can be"

    That's where I got confused. Romney isn't a person. As c u n d gulag observes above, he's a machine.

  • Citizen Alan on November 04, 2011 2:22 PM:

    He seems pretty consistent in his Mormon faith, surprisingly so to be honest. Given how craven he's been on every other issue and how his Mormonism is likely to be his biggest obstacle to winning the nomination, I'd expected him to have already converted to Catholicism by now.

  • rikyrah on November 04, 2011 2:48 PM:

    Mitt's not a flip-flopper.

    He's a f*cking rotary engine.


    truer words have rarely been written

  • max on November 04, 2011 4:26 PM:

    If Romney wins the GOP nomination, the major networks should host several "pre-debates" during which a cardboard Romney cutout wearing a clip on microphone could articulate his past positions and Romney in the flesh could argue with the cutout. Based on audience voting, the winner could then debate the President.

  • Dr. Squid on November 04, 2011 4:28 PM:

    "He's a f*cking rotary engine."

    I guess we could call Mittens the Wanker Rotary Engine.

  • gocart mozart on November 04, 2011 9:13 PM:

    rotary engine is very good but I still prefer "a well-oiled weathervane."

  • Doug on November 05, 2011 9:13 AM:

    "Can someone please explain to me the purpose of Benen's fixation on Romney's flip flops?" square1 @ 1:32 PM.

    1) It's called news.
    2) It's also excellent background for ammunition against the probable 2012 GOP candidate. You know, to be used in DEFENSE of the Democratic candidate, aka President Obama?
    3) It's also very interesting, in a train-wreck sort of way, to see another human being verbally prostituting himself daily, even hourly, while seeking a position which has as A, if not THE, major requirement that others believe what the person says.
    IOW, the Mittster, in seeking the Presidency, is destroying his credibility BEFORE he even occupies the Oval Office. Not a minor accomplishment on its own, but NOT, I surmise, what he's intending.
    4) It DOES have its amusing side.
    That four reasons and should be enough.

    Sorry about for the delay in responding.