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November 10, 2011 9:10 AM ‘Steadiness and constancy’

By Steve Benen

Were it not for Rick Perry’s and Herman Cain’s bizarre remarks last night, I’d like to think Mitt Romney’s explanation on flip-flopping would be a bigger deal this morning.

To his credit, John Harwood, one of the debate’s co-moderators, pressed the Republican frontrunner on “seeming to be on all sides” of some issues, adding, “Your opponents have said you switched positions on many issues.” Harwood ultimately asked, “What can you say to Republicans to persuade them that the things you say in the campaign are rooted in something deeper than the fact that you are running for office?”

Romney replied:

“I think people understand that I’m a man of steadiness and constancy. I don’t think you are going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do. I have been married to the same woman for 25 — excuse me, I will get in trouble, for 42 years.

“I have been in the same church my entire life. I worked at one company, Bain, for 25 years. And I left that to go off and help save the Olympic Games. I think it is outrageous the Obama campaign continues to push this idea…. Let me tell you this, if I’m president of the United States, I will be true to my family, to my faith, and to our country, and I will never apologize for the United States of America.”

I realize Romney looks like a terrific debater in light of his GOP competition, but this response offers a reminder about just how empty Romney’s suit really is.

The former governor seems to want credit for consistency for not having changed his religion or his wife. Granted, that’s a two-prong test that Newt Gingrich fails, but it hardly makes Romney “a man of steadiness and constancy.” Indeed, what does Romney’s faith and wife have to do with his willingness to shift with the political winds on every issue under the sun?

And just throwing in his lack of apologies for America reinforces the fact that Romney is just as shallow a sound-bite-reciting robot as he seems.

The Republican audience seemed pleased with Romney’s response, but there’s a limit to how long this line can work. The man has, after all, taken both sides of the question on whether it’s all right to take both sides of questions. His reputation as a shameless, craven politician who’s flip-flopped like no other American politician in a generation is well deserved.

If Romney seriously believes he’s “a man of steadiness and constancy,” he’s (a) lying to himself; (b) lacking any sense of self-awareness; or (c) doesn’t know what the words steadiness and constancy mean.

Update: One more thing. The notion that “the Obama campaign” is responsible for “pushing this idea” is pretty silly. Half the candidates on the stage, especially Jon Huntsman, has been slamming Romney for his flip-flops. For that matter, four years ago, John McCain and other GOP candidates were doing the same thing. If Romney thinks Obama’s team suddenly discovered his near-constant reversals on just about every important policy dispute, he’s giving the president’s campaign far too much credit.

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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  • Robert on November 10, 2011 9:21 AM:

    "the same woman for 25 ó excuse me, I will get in trouble, for 42 years."

    Uh oh, there are TWO wives!

  • The Village Ante on November 10, 2011 9:22 AM:

    Romney is steady and consistent, in that he can go to the same building every week for years at a time! And he will never, ever "apologize for America," even if we accidentally step on Switzerland's toes, or purposely kick Luxembourg in the balls.

    Seriously, though, what is with this American infallibility doctrine? People like Bachmann seem to take it down to a personal level: anything that comes out of her mouth is the God's-honest-truth, no matter what. Paul Revere warned the British? Hells yes he did! See, someone changed Wikipedia to say so! et al...

  • massappeal on November 10, 2011 9:23 AM:

    Or (d) demonstrating the steadiness and constancy of his ambition of getting elected president...by saying practically anything to anyone that he thinks will help in the service of that goal.

  • lou on November 10, 2011 9:28 AM:

    "True to my countr evidently does not mean telling the truth to my country. True to his self interest in running for president maybe. He should apologize to his country for his consistency in being Mitt.

  • Gov't Mule on November 10, 2011 9:29 AM:

    Slick Willard didn't save the 2002 Winter Olympics. The Teahadists from Utah secured federal subsidies equal to one and a half times (adjusted for inflation) all federal spending on the seven previous Olympic Games held in the U.S.

    "In the name of the 2002 Winter Olympics, taxpayers across the nation were soaked for $500 million in highway improvements, $326 million for a light rail transit system, $30 million for revamping parking lots, $1 million for a weather-forecasting array, and millions of dollars for numerous other Olympics-related infrastructure projects -- and the meter is still running. Even more outrageous are the federal subsidies that were directed to Olympics-connected private interests, several of which are among the nation's wealthiest developers." source: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JZS/is_2_18/ai_n25040768/pg_2/?tag=content;col1

    As if ripping off American taxpayers was bad enough, the 2002 Olympics were a study in subsidies to the already filthy rich:

    "Perhaps the most outrageous case is that of oil billionaire Robert Earl Holding, owner of Utah's Snowbasin ski resort, which will host the downhill skiing competition and several other Winter Games events. As a member of the SLOC, "Holding sat on the committee that had awarded him $14 million for his involvement in the Olympics," Andrew Jennings points out in The Great Olympic Swindle. Holding also found other ways to cash in on the Winter Games.

    For years Holding had sought to expand Snowbasin to make it competitive with other Utah ski resorts, but like many developers and property owners in the western United States his plans were thwarted by the federal government, which owned the land he needed. Shortly after Utah secured the 2002 Olympics, Senator Hatch and Utah Representative Jim Hansen introduced legislation providing for a "land swap" that would give Holding 1,320 acres he coveted in exchange "for lands of approximately equal value" owned by one of his companies. Rep. Hansen insisted that the swap was necessary to facilitate the Winter Games. The legislation was written with input from Gray Reynolds, a senior official in the U.S. Forest Service.

    The land-swap measure was tucked into an omnibus public lands management act that was signed in November 1996. Shortly thereafter Reynolds retired from the Forest Service -- and went to work for Holding as general manager of Snowbasin. Holding (who comes in at number 236 on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans) also received taxpayer funds to build a $15 million road through his newly acquired lands to his ski resort. Senator Bennett inserted the necessary appropriation into the U.S. Forest Service budget. "If we don't get [the $15 million appropriation] this year," Bennett insisted in 1998, "we might as well hold the downhill in Colorado."

  • c u n d gulag on November 10, 2011 9:32 AM:

    Well, in all fairness, you do have to give Mitt credit for sticking to one wife.

    In the early days of Mormonism, men believed in polygamy. Butt Mitt's a modern man.

    And now, Mitt and the rest of them don't believe in polygamy, they practice what the rest of us do - monotony.

  • Danp on November 10, 2011 9:39 AM:

    Note to Squishy Mitt: Some talking points are inherently stupid. For example, you can't apologize for Obama's misguided foreign policies, while insisting you will never apologize for America. We elected Obama, and if you think the policies are wrong, then perhaps sometimes America is wrong. Constantly confused is not a virtue.

  • T2 on November 10, 2011 9:39 AM:

    the main purpose of these fake debates is to bash Obama, so its' not surprising that Mitt does that when he can. But to blame Obama for creating the Flip-Flop tag is laughable. It is the Republican Party that has done that.

  • nitpicker on November 10, 2011 9:40 AM:

    Shorter Mitt Romney: "The only thing I've ever been inconsistent about is every political stance I've ever taken."

  • BetweenTheLines on November 10, 2011 9:43 AM:

    Well it's been fun GOP base. Thanks for all the memories. But I guess it's time to pony-up the bar tab and vote for the Godfather of Obamacare, the Flip-Flopper of Boston, the East Coast Mormon, the Good-hair Harvard Multi-millionaire, .........

  • DRF on November 10, 2011 9:44 AM:

    Look, the guy is absolutely reprehensible, but there was no way to answer that question other than to refer to his character; the question was itself a challenge to his character. That he had to throw in the "no apologies" nonsense was just disgusting. But is anyone fooled by this guy? It's patently obvious to all, especially his primary opponents, that Romney is prepared to abandon all of his personal beliefs (whatever they may be) to get elected President. At this point, he has zero credibility, so no thinking person is going to believe that anything he says actually represents his true beliefs.

  • siameese.cities on November 10, 2011 9:47 AM:

    Unlike Perry who fudged numbers and job creation records, or Cain that keeps things top secret and defends himself against the Democrat machine (does it shoot an ultra liberal ray, or is it some sort of submersion tank?) Romney's lines/lies/talking points are verifiable, he says them as if videotape no longer exists.

    Besides all the video of him contradicting himself to counteract what he said; he also said Obama is the most political president we've seen in modern time. "He's actually pulling out of Afghanistan for political reasons" ("I mean c'mon" voice inflection included) again, despite the videotape of Bush declaring the exact same deadline, but whatever, tape is a liberal conspiracy, right GOP?

  • DAY on November 10, 2011 9:50 AM:

    What will save Mitt in the end, is that there ain't nobody paying attention today, and won't be, until Labor Day, 2012.

  • Trollopoly on November 10, 2011 9:58 AM:

    Wow, are they still doing clown shows? I'm not sorry I missed it!

    That's the same church you've been at that already lost you the election Mitt, plus the fact that as a show dolphin, you can flip backward, forward, sideways and splash your tail at the end beautifully but you don't dare admit you did something good about healthcare in Massachusetts. You're fucked! You better go back to exporting jobs overseas again, I don't know why you don't ham that one up, it fits right in with the GOP upper class agenda! Get rich, pay little or no taxes!

  • N.Wells on November 10, 2011 10:09 AM:

    My recommended statement for Mitt: 'Of course I'm consistent - I have unfailingly been consistently inconsistent in my consistency.'

  • Kathryn on November 10, 2011 10:21 AM:

    The Morning Joe crowd, minus Mika who was silent, praised his answer to the hilt. I guess when every candidate you have is a pathetic joke including Romney, you have to pretend not to notice the emperor has no clothes quality of your front runner.

    Looking forward to Chris Matthews show tonight. Chris, despite his flaws, cannot hide his incredulity at the state of the Republican field.

  • qwerty on November 10, 2011 10:27 AM:

    "I think it is outrageous the Obama campaign continues to push this idea..."

    It's not just an "idea"; his flip-flopping is a easily verifiable fact.

  • jim filyaw on November 10, 2011 10:32 AM:

    there's one other option that was omitted. (d) romney is cynical enough to believe that the american public is stupid and ignorant enough to swallow the idea that whatever comes out of his mouth within the last five minutes are bedrock immutable principals, firmly held since reaching the age of reason. with conventional republicans and a considerable swath of those who label themselves 'independents', that's not a bad bet.

  • Grumpy on November 10, 2011 10:38 AM:

    Granted, thatís a two-prong test that Newt Gingrich fails...

    LOL.

    "...and I will never apologize for the United States of America.'

    Another thing Romney is unswervingly faithful to: his vapid slogan.

  • zeitgeist on November 10, 2011 10:45 AM:

    being the guy who gets paid millions to do Obama's campaign commercials will be the easiest job ever known. this is yet another one that just assembles itself.

    over and over, Mitt saying "I'm a man of steadiness and constancy", followed by a clip of him taking one side of an issue, then a clip of him taking another side, and then audio him ducking all together over a scrolling screen of editorials, op-eds, Republican quotes, and news pieces about his lack of convictions End with a repeat of the audio of "I'm a man of steadiness and constancy" over a phto of a weathervane, the backflipping money, a flipping dolphin, etc (use a different one for each spot in the series).

    seriously, high-paying campaign jobs just don't get any easier.

  • Not Anonymous on November 10, 2011 11:58 AM:

    Not switching wives or religion = unenlightened, co-dependent dullard.

  • June on November 10, 2011 1:05 PM:

    What a weasely non-answer from Romney.

  • exlibra on November 10, 2011 1:40 PM:

    I've been married to the same man for 38 years. I've been an atheist my entire life (62 years). Does that mean that the only thing that stands between me and the presidency of the USA is my Polish birth certificate?

  • Cha on November 10, 2011 3:20 PM:

    "ROMNEY IS JUST AS SHALLOW A SOUND-BITE-RECITING ROBOT"

    Dead ON Steve.

  • Adam on November 10, 2011 8:24 PM:

    On the one job thing, wasn't he with Bain & Company (the consulting firm), left there to found Bain Capital (a completely separate and unaffiliated private equity firm, albeit with the same first name)? If they really are separate, isn't "one job" actually false? show more show less

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