Romney Strikes a Blow Against Romney

Why does the Republican presidential hopeful keep contradicting himself?

Any candidate for president can fall victim to occasional stumbles, lapses, gaffes, and clunkers. But Mitt Romney has a shot at raising ineptitude to an art form.

The other day, he had to answer a question about how the economy has fared under the current administration. Before he was done, though, Romney managed to give the impression that if he dove off a dock, he'd miss the water. He also undermined his chief assets in the campaign: a supposed mastery of economic issues and a reputation for competence.

Over and over, the former Massachusetts governor has accused President Barack Obama of taking a weak economy and applying leeches. Announcing his candidacy last month, Romney said, "When he took office, the economy was in recession. He made it worse." In a June debate, he said, "He didn't create the recession, but he made it worse and longer."

This is not strictly factual, since the downturn officially ended two years ago, but the charge could be defended as faithful to the reality of what Americans are experiencing. The number of people employed in non-farm jobs has dropped by some 2.5 million under this administration, which makes the recovery feel like a cruel fraud.

Romney might ask: Who are you going to believe about the recession? The National Bureau of Economic Research, which says it's over, or your neighbor, who's been unemployed for three years?

But when Romney was asked last week about the accuracy of his contention that Obama worsened the recession, he did not claim to be invoking a truth that trumps mere facts. Instead, he denied making such an assertion. "I didn't say that things are worse," he insisted. "What I said was that the economy hasn't turned around."

The denial makes him look confused and dishonest. A campaign spokesman did Romney no favor by saying (in an e-mail to me) his comment "was in response to part of the reporter's question about the stock market"—which it obviously wasn't, and which compounded one risible deception with another. Nor did it help when, a few days later, Romney went back to saying Obama "made things worse."

This incident is not just an isolated flub. It's a reminder of Romney's chief flaws as a candidate. One is his habit of eagerly changing any position whenever he can gain by it. Another is his tendency to deny having done so.

In 2008, during the GOP primaries, he accused John McCain of proposing legislation that offered "amnesty" to illegal immigrants. Challenged by McCain in a debate, he denied using the term "amnesty," only to be forced later to admit it. He also had to explain why he had previously praised McCain's approach to the issue.

In 2007, Romney said he favored banning "assault weapons." In 2008, he opposed the idea.

Running for the Senate against Ted Kennedy in 1994, Romney announced, "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country." In 2008, he admitted reversing himself on abortion rights. But he said that as governor, on "every issue that related to protecting the sanctity of life, I came down on the side of life"—eliciting disagreement from pro-life groups, whose memories differed.

Changing positions on a major issue isn't unusual among presidential candidates, and it isn't necessarily fatal. After opposing President George W. Bush's tax cuts in 2001, McCain supported them seven years later. During his presidential campaign, Obama, who once endorsed a ban on handguns, assured voters, "I won't take your handgun away."

Romney, however, should be past the stage where he explains his metamorphosis from a liberal Republican to a conservative one. That was what his 2008 presidential campaign was for. This time, his focus could be on demonstrating that, alone in the field, he has what it takes to unseat Obama.

By bungling his economic message, Romney revives the suspicion that he can't stick to a position or stick to the facts. He also undermines his main advantage: the belief among many Republicans that the economy will be the deciding issue and that Romney, with his business background and managerial acumen, is best suited to exploit it.

But on the economy, he can't keep his story straight. It brings to mind Ted Kennedy's wisecrack about Romney's abortion views: "I am pro-choice. My opponent is multiple choice."

Romney should be debating the Obama administration on the economy. Lately, he's debating himself, and he's losing.

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  • rather ||

    The denial makes him look confused and dishonest

    This article highlights the difference when a male politician makes a gaffe and the treatment for a female politician.

    One looks 'dishonest' and the other is a lying cunt

  • Not John||

    If Sarah Palin had said all those things...! Wait, if Sarah Palin was a Mormon instead of...no, that's not it...

  • Bill||

    It depends. The take on Palin is that she is an idiot when she makes a miscue.

    For my part I believe she is an idiot just like many of the candidates.

  • Not John||

    Sometimes an idiot is just an idiot.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    When it comes to flip-flopping, Mitt Romney makes John Kerry look like Thomas More.

  • ||

    WHAT'S NEXT - Your guess as good as any!

    Now some people are into reading their
    horoscopes [I AM] there a hoot, some look to
    others for their insight into the future, crystal balls,
    taro cards, I-Chang , and fortune telling, and the [So
    Called] weaker sex They Who Must Be Obeyed, has
    always been looked too in these pursuits, and their
    have been some of the [Strong Sex] muscle
    between the ears, that have been said to have the
    gift if one could consider it a gift, and we are not
    one of them, if we were, well lets say being a rich
    fat cat would be the first goal to set using advance
    knowledge, not saying that having nothing to lose
    doesn't have its up side, what more can they take.
    So, what do we have to work with in seeing into the
    future a guess as good anyone else, combined with
    the knowledge of past and present events having
    set into motion events that may or may not be
    effected by equal and opposite events having been
    set into motion from other directions, or you could
    just say What Will Be Will Be the future is not ours
    to see, just watch the roll of them bones [dice] and
    see how it all plays out, nothing is certain, its all a
    crap shoot. But, it doesn't mean we still don't like
    taking a stab at it.

    [The Military Industrial Complex]

    Bob Gates is having to leave the American-Israeli
    Military Industrial Complex position as the [SOD]
    Secretary of Defense, it will all be very polite and
    all but the boy said some things to some very
    wrong people to say them to, that you just can't
    keep on spending [53%] Fifty- Three percent of the
    tax revenues collected, upon the Military Industrial
    Complex without breaking the economy. Well that
    went over like a lead balloon, the groups getting
    the money for toys the military of the world really
    don't need, except to show the other side that mine
    is bigger than yours, didn't see things that way.
    And then Bob said the military had to be cut, that
    was an end of game comment, you can cut social
    security, government pensions, have a jobless
    recovery, let the infrastructure fall apart, and
    educational systems fail, but don't you dare say
    were going to cut up the sacred cow!!! And, besides
    they have been, are, and will continue to get away
    with it, with the world spending [€ 178 X 6B], One-
    Hundred-Seventy -Eight Euros for each living human
    being upon the planet over six billion, why
    shouldn't things keep going the way they are. So
    old Bob Gates is on his last tour as the Secretary of
    Defense of the American-Israeli Military Industrial
    Complex, next stop China which will be very polite
    and understand whatever Bob say's doesn't mean a
    thing as the new kid in town will say what the
    Military Industrial Complex bid him say at any given
    moment.

    [Containing and Tearing the [BRIC] apart]

    So what is the goal of the next [SOD] well its to aid
    in the containing and tearing apart of the [BRIC]
    Brazil, The Russian Federation, India, [PDRC] and
    Peoples Democratic Republic of China, [Sphere of
    Influence] the world's [21 st] Century revolutionary
    challenge to the American-Israeli Military Industrial
    Complex along with interfering into the Dr.
    Westwelle peace-nik politics of Germany, backing
    German politicians who want to keep Nuclear
    Weapon's and American-Israeli Military Industrial
    Complex troops in Europe, some in Germany and
    some in Eastern Europe along with missile defense
    systems, while keeping German Troops in the [AF-
    PAK] Afghanistan- Pakistan WAR, while ending the
    [Chimany] economic development cooperation
    between Germany and China the [C] of the [BRIC] ,
    assuring the hold on [FOOTHOLD] Germany. Then
    its on to dealing with the [B] of the [BRIC], the
    stepping up of political interference in Brazil as the
    present President of Brazil completes his term in
    office, it is time to strike while the iron is hot, using
    the graduates from the School of Terrorism, in Ft.
    Benning, Georgia, to pound that Non-Nuclear
    [BRIC] member into dust. That leaves the [RIC]
    Nuclear member's of the [BRIC], the biggest
    problem of that being the [Okinawa] problem and
    Japanese Law's concerning Nuclear Weapons upon
    Japanese soil which they just ignore, and its peace-
    nik constitution which with the Korean Peninsula
    flare up combined with run in's with the [C] of the
    [BRIC] and Japan over old island issues, allows the
    American-Israeli Military Industrial Complex to
    solidify its hold and commence the militarization of
    the Japanese Empire maintaining and solidifying its
    hold on [FOOTHOLD] Okinawa. That leaves the [RI]
    of the [BRIC] which is to be held/contained/caged /
    walled in with the [C] China of the [BRIC], behind
    the Nuclear Wall running from Foothold Germany
    to Eastern Europe, thru Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan,
    Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, and into Okinawa.

    [The End Game]

    The End Game for the next year to years is to hold
    the line for the present and then push forward in
    the following year's one at a time to preserve the
    status quo, while moving forward on one size fits
    all American-Israeli Military Industrial Complex
    Democracy, of course with it being the Super
    Democracy. So the next [SOD] of the American-
    Israeli Military Industrial Complex has their work
    cut out for them. And this is all just a guess and
    one that is just as good any anyone else, it's like
    your backside everyone has one, and just think we
    haven't even addressed what the other guy is
    thinking, I think I'll just check my horoscope we
    need a good laugh.

    HERCULE TRIATHLON SAVINIEN

  • Sinic||

    All batshit crazy ranting and no play make HERCULE TRIATHLON SAVINIEN a dull boy.
    All batshit crazy ranting and no play make HERCULE TRIATHLON SAVINIEN a dull boy.
    All batshit crazy ranting and no play make HERCULE TRIATHLON SAVINIEN a dull boy.

  • rather ||

    I think 'he' is a she

  • .||

    rather, are you Herc?

  • Sinic||

    Why? It's a guy's name and guy-type rants. Unless it's you...

  • Jen||

    I think she's saying only women read horoscopes.

  • Aqua Buddha||

    Oh Herc, never change.

  • Bill||

    I must have been absent the day they went over the [Strong Sex] muscle between the ears.

  • Matt Felch||

    I think this might be a spoof...

  • !||

  • Sinic||

    Mitt Romney has a shot at raising ineptitude to an art form

    This was an artist.

  • stephen||

    "Artiste"

  • ||

    "Mitt Romney has a shot at raising ineptitude to an art form"

    All you have to do is look at Romney Care and how much of a failure that has been, that alone should have been enough to show just who this bag o crap is for real.

  • ||

    I keep trying to tell y'all, Romney is Obama in disguise.

  • ||

    Do you know that the state legislature passes bills, not the executive branch?

  • obi juan||

    Romney's problem is that 1) he is unable to admit he was ever wrong about anything and 2) he is always saying things he thinks people want to hear.

  • Aqua Buddha||

    In other words, the White Obama.

  • sarcasmic||

    In other words, he is a politician.

    Duh.

  • Martin||

    It's going to be hilarious when those retards nominate Romney. It will be such a nice metaphor for the ineptitude and hypocrisy of the Republican party. How are they going to justify nominating someone who created a healthcare plan exactly like Obama's, when ObamaCare has been one of the chief beefs of the right?

  • PIRS||

    I don't think he will get the nomination. Too many Republicans dislike him for precisely that reason.

  • ripster||

    Primary voters disliked Romney last time around because he was a phony. Nothing has occurred to change that. RomneyCare is just a burden for the likes of Karl Rove. He, and others like him, don't want to have to deal with that as a campaign issue. Romney: unappealing to primary voters, unappealing to spin-meisters. Go away, Mittens.

  • prolefeed||

    I get the impression that Romney will be the Guiliani of 2012 -- the clear frontrunner right up the point where people start voting.

  • ||

    He is the only GOP candidate with a favorable chance of beating Maobama, dummies. You need the independents, not the radical right to win.

  • Justin Cases||

    Why is there no mention on Reason regarding Thaddeus McCotter putting his hat in the ring for President?
    Republicans aren't that excited about any of the contenders so far.
    Granted, Libertarians have Paul and Johnson, but since they aren't Republicans, then they probably won't win the nomination
    It would be prudent to provide coverage of any candidate that might be of interest to Libertarians given the importance in ousting Obama.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Hey! Why no mention of zombie Harold Stassen running for president?

  • Almanian||

    I do love me some T McCotter. Any politician who appears regularly on Red Eye can't be all bad :)

    PLUS he has a really bitchin Telecaster that he actually plays. And he's not a complete Team Red suckass.

    Close enough for government work. Go T!

  • ||

    "I was for the recession before I was against it"

  • Alan Vanneman||

    "Why does the Republican presidential hopeful keep contradicting himself?"

    Because he's stupid?

    Or maybe he's just Obamaesque. Or Clintonian. Or Bushistic. Or Reagatonian. If Mitt's the best the Republicans have got, Obama may not even have to break a sweat. Which is a goddamn shame.

  • Almanian||

    Ditto. Well stated, Mr. V.

  • ||

    The factual problem for the GOP in trying to harp jobs -- based on the dubious notion that perpetual Clinton-era full employment should be the sin qua non of acceptable governance in this country -- is that the really massive and lingering job losses are, now and increasingly, from the public sector.

    Teachers, cops, firemen, road workers, human services -- these are the people who are really screwed in the employment market right now, because state and local governments have to balance their budgets with substantially less revenue, rapidly dwindling federal stimulus, and precious little flexibility to trim wages and benefits. The dip in the private sector areas -- service, professional, blue collar or whatever -- hasn't been quite so bad and has been improving compared to the public sector.

    By the time of the general election, the GOP is, in effect, going to be harping on Obama for not hiring back enough government workers. Is this really the message? Can they even sell it? Government workers tend to have a pretty clear sense of the political determinants of their employment, and not many of them expect Paul-Ryanomics to win them their jobs back.

  • Justin Cases||

    >these are the people who are really screwed in the employment market right now, because state and local governments have to balance their budgets with substantially less revenue

    And why is there less revenue? Because in the private sector less people are working for less money therefore leading to less income so pretty much everyone is in the same boat, well, not really, since the public sector has all those sweet, sweet deals to fund, so really, the part of the problem for the public sector is funding all their obligations that they shouldn't have agreed to in the first place.

  • ||

    I don't think we are disagreeing, here. The economy is slow and tax revenue is down. The bad job numbers consist of relatively slow job growth in the private sector netted against very large job losses in the public sector.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    these are the people who are really screwed in the employment market right now, because state and local governments have to balance their budgets with substantially less revenue

    So there is a silver lining!

  • ||

    Yes, if you are pro-cyclical during a downturn, there is a silver lining.

    Fair question: Why do you hate America?

  • ||

    Nope.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/sto.....2011-07-07

    Except for a massive correction in public employment in mid-2010 (following a huge growth spurt), public and private employment growth have tracked pretty close together.

    Nice try, though.

  • ||

    then again, maybe you're the one who is mistaken:

    http://mjperry.blogspot.com/20.....-jobs.html

  • Justin Cases||

    Playing devils advocate for a second, there has been some growth, which you know, is bound to happen when you start shoveling billions of dollars out the door. So while that may have halted, the country is in a worse state since supporting the economy printing money doesn't fix it any more than putting a pint of blood into someone bleeding to death doesn't fix it. Also, while employment has stayed around 9% the real unemployment figure has grown much higher.
    So the left and the media (but I repeat myself) could make say he's lying because there was benefit from the stimulus because GDP and unemployment stabilized.

    However, reality is a more nuanced argument and doesn't fit in a soundbite. So if he says its worse, they can jump on him for 'lying', and since they'll never report the complete argument they can say he's flip flopped.
    Regardless, its what happens when you have a media that only reports what matches their agenda.

  • ||

    The only consistency that I've observed from Romney is his tireless and unswerving dedication to a pro-Romney agenda.

  • ||

    You KNOW full well competency isn't a requirement to be President, so quit playin.

  • Tony||

    While I'd like to think the GOP base cares more about dogmatic rigidity than winning the election, I think that beating Obama probably trumps all other concerns, even the fact that their candidate passed the precursor to the most evil legislation ever passed, Obamacare. It's only an evil law because Obama passed it, after all, it's not like they know or care to know what it actually entails.

    That a compulsive flip-flopper with the charm of a naked mole rat is their most electable candidate is pretty hilarious though.

  • DK||

    That a compulsive flip-flopper with the charm of a naked mole rat is their most electable candidate is pretty hilarious though.

    I assume we're talking about Barry O. here?

  • fish||

    Nope! He's talking about Romney and he's right~! The only thing he missed was a reference to the "Corporate-Speak" Module surgically implanted in Romneys neck. It seems to be malfunctioning though.

  • ||

    Wow, terrible article...

    The 2 propositions that:

    1) The economy/recession/recovery has been made worse by Obama.
    and 2) The economy is better today than it was at it's worst point.

    are non-exclusive. It's pretty sad that even Reason conflates these very different statements.

    Aside from that, yes Romney is a flip-flopping political opportunist, and worse, a statist. I have no love for him and hope he goes down in flames in the primary, but that doesn't excuse the the main thrust of this article being a misguided and either ignorant or intellectually dishonest piece of drivel.

  • Almanian||

    It's pretty sad that even Reason conflates these very different statements.

    =

    "For a website called Reason..."

    Therefore - DRINK!

  • ||

    Excellent point. Except the Romney bashing.

  • ||

    Well thats kinda crazy when you think about it.

    www.total-privacy.ua.tc

  • ||

    Romney's a well-coiffed turd. That's all you need to know.

  • ripster||

    This time, his focus could be on demonstrating that, alone in the field, he has what it takes to unseat Obama.

    That may be his public message, but it is not what would get him the nomination.

    He also undermines his main advantage: the belief among many Republicans that the economy will be the deciding issue and that Romney, with his business background and managerial acumen, is best suited to exploit it.

    His main advantage - and main disadvantage - is that he is a reliably pliable party hack. His flip-flopping actually enhances his value in the eyes of the R establishment. The powers that be in the R estab always choose, as candidates for leadership positions, pols who either have no firm principles or are too weak-willed to stick to whatever principles they may have. Despite the talking point that the Rs pick someone based on whose turn it is, the R estab wants a candidate who plays ball, who can be controlled and manipulated.

    Unfortunately for Romney, R primary *voters* want a candidate with the big "A" - Authenticity. Voters are sick to death of pols who are little more than a composite of PR campaigns based on polls and focus groups. A verbally stumbling, political neophyte is more appealing than a polished fabrication.

    Gawd, I wish Rick Perry would announce so that the bloom can be taken off of his phony-ass rose so that both he and Romney can be flushed before the primary season gets too far along.

  • fish||

    Gawd, I wish Rick Perry would announce so that the bloom can be taken off of his phony-ass rose so that both he and Romney can be flushed before the primary season gets too far along.

    I like the cut of your jib Ripster! Perry looks like the lifer who has to audition before the warden and head screw before he is formally announced as running the yard.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    "Unfortunately for Romney, R primary *voters* want a candidate with the big "A" - Authenticity. Voters are sick to death of pols who are little more than a composite of PR campaigns based on polls and focus groups. A verbally stumbling, political neophyte is more appealing than a polished fabrication."

    So, Gary Johnson?

  • ||

    Or Ron Paul.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Ron Paul isn't a neophyte. That's why I chose Johnson: he's been in state level politics before now.

  • ripster||

    Gary Johnson ... isn't he the ... was he ... I think I remember ... wasn't he in some kind of a thing or something? Can't remember where I heard of him. Where is he again?

  • ||

    I live in Texas, and trust me, Rick Perry is about as unauthentic as they come. You do know that he once chaired the Al Gore Texas campaign in the D primary, right?

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    Does it really count as flip-flopping when you know right up front that the guy is has no principles and is willing to say or do whatever it takes to get elected?

  • Reason M. Romney||

    I never said he was flip flopping.

  • Romney M. Reason||

    What I said was he was flop flipping.

  • ||

    As a liberal masquerading as a conservative the cognitive dissonance gets to him.

    Imagine the confusion if one of these guys thought it politic to masquerade as a libertarian.

  • ||

    mittromneyflipflops.com

    Romney = McCain = Obama = Bush = Clinton = Bush = status quo

    War Mongering
    Chicken Hawk
    Statist
    Pro Government as it suits him
    Say one thing do another
    Politician

    My vote goes to RON PAUL

  • ||

    What a horrible story, just regurgitating MSM liberal cheap shots. Romney's two statements are taken out of context. It is true that they were in response to different questions.

    I for one do not trust a politician who never changes his views or opinions. We grow, learn, mature, and an honest man will change his opinion on occasion.

    Cheap shot article that is borrowed straight off HuffPo. This is beneath Reason.com, and I am disturbed that it was published here.

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