Political Animal


November 09, 2011 3:35 PM Romney still lacks ‘the courage of his absence of convictions’

By Steve Benen

Conservative columnist George Will recently slammed Mitt Romney as “a recidivist reviser of his principles,” who seems to “lack the courage of his absence of convictions.”

Today, we have yet another perfect example of the Republican frontrunner’s problem.

Romney recently told Fox News he, as governor, would have “absolutely” backed an amendment similar to the “personhood” amendment on the ballot in Mississippi this week. Since the measure would have banned abortions, birth control, in-vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, and treatment of ectopic pregnancies, Romney’s position raised a few eyebrows.

He did not, however, explicitly endorse the Mississippi measure. In fact, Romney, whose cowardice is becoming increasingly obvious, refused to take a stand on the ballot question, even when reporters pressed his campaign for his position. One prominent supporter of the measure recently complained, “We always seem to get two stories from Romney.”

Yesterday, voters in Mississippi rejected the “personhood” amendment — and wouldn’t you know it, Romney has suddenly decided he’s willing to distance himself from it.

Mitt Romney’s campaign, seeking to nip a potent general election attack in the bud, says he’s being falsely characterized as supporting a proposed amendment to define a fertilized egg as a “person” that was badly defeated in Mississippi yesterday. […]

Romney’s current position? He supports, per spokeswoman Gail Gitcho, “a Human Life Amendment that overturns Roe vs. Wade and sends the issue back to the states” — which sounds like something short of a federal abortion ban.

Romney’s campaign refused to take a position on the Mississippi question as recently as Monday. But once voters rejected it, now he’s free to clarify his position on the radical plan.

If it seems like this keeps coming up with the former governor, it’s not your imagination. Romney refused to take a stand on Paul Ryan’s budget. Romney refused to take a stand when asked about voters booing a U.S. soldier serving in Iraq during a Republican debate. Romney refused to take a stand when Rick Perry dabbled in Birtherism. Romney initially refused to take a stand on Ohio’s campaign to undermine collective-bargaining rights, and then sheepishly backpedaled when the right complained.

There’s going to come a point next year when the Obama campaign is likely to say, “Mitt Romney lacks the courage and the character to be a leader.” And the criticism will sting because it’s based in fact.

Either Romney has the guts to lead or he doesn’t, and waiting to take a position on an issue until after the fight is over is evidence of a politician who simply lacks courage.

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.


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  • T2 on November 09, 2011 3:49 PM:

    I'm starting to think Mitt doesn't really want to be president. He's just running because,well, he doesn't have anything else to do and he's got plenty money. I think he can relax.....he won't be president.

  • stormskies on November 09, 2011 3:54 PM:

    If this duplicit creature ever had a soul, which is very debatable, he no longer has one. In it's place in nothing more than a rancid abscess ..

  • Ohioan on November 09, 2011 3:57 PM:

    Off topic, but wanted to be top of comments: I chose the moniker "Ohioan" and have been a commenter on Steve's blog since his Carpetbagger Report days...

    We have been through many sad stories from Ohio, including watching a Fox News commentator with Lehmann brothers experience get elected as Governor.

    But after last night I have to exclaim for the record, GO O-HI-O!!!!!

  • stormskies on November 09, 2011 4:00 PM:

    Romney may not have a soul but just look at what the sadist called Herman Cain spokesman has just said about one of his women accusers

    here is the link: http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/male-persuasion-herman-cains-website#comments

    November 09, 2011 12:00 PM

    Male Persuasion: Herman Cain's Website Calls One of His Accusers an 'Ugly Bitch'

    By David Neiwert

    Here's Team Herman Cain's defense of their boss: He couldn't possibly have sexually harassed his second accuser, Karen Kraushaar, because she's an "ugly bitch".

    And they're sooooo funny, too, "clarifying" that Kraushaar is not the horse in the picture.

    Boy, I bet that convinces all the women out there, eh? Granted, it probably will work great with Republican men, who all seem to believe that only attractive women could possibly be sexually harassed. (This is particularly the case with "MP" at the Cain PAC blog.)

    I guess less-than-perfectly-attractive women are just so desperate that of course they would be happy to give Cain a blow job.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Remember when the right-wing was against sexism? You know back when Palin was their media token?

  • Stephen Stralka on November 09, 2011 4:03 PM:

    Is anyone else finding Romney more and more creepy? Just a sucking void where his soul should be. To me it's this existential dread kind of thing--that feeling of horror and revulsion with which people like Herman Melville and Samuel Beckett have contemplated pure nothingness.

  • Philat on November 09, 2011 4:05 PM:

    Romney is a difficult man to watch on TV; whatever he says seems scripted, a bit forced, as if he's saying "I'm a great guy and whatever you want to hear, I'll give you the answer, or the appearance of an answer, you want." In other words, a bit of a sham that you wonder what's he really like when he sits down at home and talks without the TV cameras on.

  • DAY on November 09, 2011 4:11 PM:

    He's not running for president.
    He's running for None of the Above. And winning.

  • Ron Byers on November 09, 2011 4:20 PM:

    In the general Romney will run into an opponent with the smarts and stage presence to pull off the attack Rick Perry screwed up in the debate a few weeks ago. It will be ugly.

    It is almost as though the Republicans are throwing the general election. What surprises me is Mitch McConnell still says defeating Obama is job 1, more important than putting people back to work or even saving the Republican majority in the house or obtaining one in the Senate. McConnell is truly willing to go down with the ship even if the Republican party is unwilling to nominate a candidate with even a ghost of a chance against President Obama.

  • pluege on November 09, 2011 4:30 PM:

    does it occur to anyone that adapting his position to his situation and audience is so ingrained in romney that he has no idea what anybody is talking about when he's accused of flip-flopping or why anyone would care?

  • bleh on November 09, 2011 4:48 PM:

    Two points.

    First, fuzzing your position is a smart thing to do in principle, because it lets people hear what they want to hear and doesn't give them anything specific to attack.

    At least, until it catches up with you in the "character" department, which seems to be happening with the MittBot.

    But second, remember the power of the Mighty Wurlitzer, and the tendency of Republicans and other authoritarians to "fall in line."

    By the time of the general election, Mitt's positions will be "well known" and "staunchly held," and so promoted by the likes of David Brooks, and the faithful will

  • Beejeez on November 09, 2011 4:51 PM:

    His lack of principles is working so badly for Romney that he's only the most likely Republican in America to be the next president.

  • Mitch on November 09, 2011 4:56 PM:

    @Ron Byers

    I've been saying for months that the GOP has no serious intention of winning the Presidency in 2012, hence the incredibly weak field.

    Think about it, it's a lot smarter for them to let Obama remain for the next four years. As long as they keep enough people in Congress to block everything and keep the economy stalled, they have opportunity to make Obama and Dems in general look bad. This won't even require a majority in either chamber of Congress, indeed, it may be better for them to lose the House (give the plutarchs a chance to drop some of the pesky Tea Baggers to boot). They could still play their blocking games and blame everything on the Dems. It's not like your average citizen is enough of a political wonk to really know what is going on.

    Under this scenario, by 2016 the nation will be in as bad of a shape as now, if not worse. And with 8 years of Obama, it will be very difficult for the man-on-the-street to blame anyone but the Dems for stagnation or recession. The American people have tragically short memories. All the Repugs have to do is block everything, kill as many "liberal" programs as possible, and continually blame the suffering of our nation on the Dems.

    Then, bang, they sweep in to victory in 2016, possibly gaining control of all three branches again. I honestly believe that is their goal.

    Yeah, McConnell said that he wants Obama to be a one-termer. Well, I have met McConnell (in a non-political situation when I was a teen) and in my opinion he will say anything to please his listeners. In that case, he was pleasing his base. The GOP wants to defeat Obama and the Dems, for certain; but most of all, they want a permanent majority. Permanent. And they will do anything to achieve that goal. Even waiting another four years, to give the country time to forget all of the ineptitude of the Bush years.

    They are not stupid, no matter how dumb they may seem, especially the plutocrats who really run the GOP. They just have different goals than us; namely gaining more money and power. And they do not care what kind of damage they do to the nation in order to reach their goals.

  • jim filyaw on November 09, 2011 5:13 PM:

    "...Romney, whose cowardice is becoming increasingly obvious,..."

    that has never really been in question. here's a self-proclaimed tough guy who spent the vietnam war bicycling through france on seven back to back deferments. he later admitted to a reporter that he felt he was wasting his time trying to proselytize the french. he comes by it honestly. his father sat out wwii, and none of his progeny have donned our country's uniform. funny thing about these republicans. they seem to think sticking a pin in their lapel or a sticker on their bumper entitles them to question other people's patriotism.

  • Daniel Peterson on November 09, 2011 5:36 PM:

    A new little website has been established to examine questions like Romney's alleged "soullessness":


  • qantog on November 09, 2011 6:44 PM:

    I noticed Daniel Peterson, on the payroll apologist for the Mormon Church, has come to the Mittster's defense. He tells lies for the LDS Church. It can't be much of a stretch for him to lie for the Mittster. Mitt Romney's vacuous soul was imprinted upon him by his religion. Dishonesty is its institutional forte. We should not be surprised that Mitt seems directionless. Without directions from Salt Lake City, Mitt doesn't know which pot to piss in.

  • Doug on November 09, 2011 7:35 PM:

    Prediction: Romney wins the GOP nomination by default, loses by double-digits to Obama in 2012.

  • mrgavel on November 10, 2011 12:39 AM:

    In this particular case it is also not going to work. It will be perfectly truthful to run advertisements that claim that Romney supports an amendment that could ban the sale of certain types of birth control, prevent abortions in the case of rape or incest, prevent abortions to save the life of the mother, prevent abortions in the case of ectopic pregnancies, etc.

  • Daniel Peterson on November 10, 2011 12:53 AM:

    Speaking of lies, qantog, I'm not an "on the payroll apologist for the Mormon Church," though I do, as a matter of fact, defend Mormonism publicly.

    I'm a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University:


    As for the rest of your hostile blather, well . . .

    Have a good day.

  • qantog on November 10, 2011 5:41 PM:

    you ain't kidding anybody Danny boy. You're a paid Mormon liar. You're the guy that rolls the turd you call your religion in powdered sugar and then tries to convince people its really a donut.