The Multitudinous Mitt

With Romney, no position is ever final; no star is ever fixed.

In Wednesday's debate, Mitt Romney said he will "stop the subsidy" to public broadcasting. That's good to know, because Mitt Romney's campaign website says he will merely "reduce subsidies for ... the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."

Kill Big Bird or just pluck some of his feathers? Or neither, in keeping with what often happens to promises made by politicians? As Ted Kennedy once said of Romney's abortion policy, "I am pro-choice. My opponent is multiple choice."

Barack Obama had a tough time in the debate because he was told he would be debating Mitt Romney, a self-described "severely conservative" Republican who rails against regulation, promises huge tax cuts and has no use for Washington's meddling in private businesses like health insurance. But Mitt Romney had to cancel.

Instead the president found himself facing a last-minute replacement named Mitt Romney, a bipartisan-minded compromiser who says, "You can't have a free market without regulation," vows not to accept any tax cut that would increase the deficit and wants to tell insurance companies whom to insure.

Obama wrote a book called "The Audacity of Hope." But until Wednesday, he never knew the meaning of audacity. Romney left Obama looking like a nearsighted farmer chasing a greased pig in a dark barn.

Reciting his five-point economic plan, the GOP nominee said, "Number four, get us to a balanced budget." He grieved over chronic deficits: "I think it's, frankly, not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in."

But there's that other Romney. His website page on spending omits any promise or plan to eliminate the deficit. Elsewhere, he has said he would balance the budget in eight to 10 years -- by which time it will be someone else's problem.

The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that Romney's budget plan would increase the federal debt from 73 percent of gross domestic product to 86 percent over the next decade -- even more than Obama's. If reviving the economy requires a balanced budget, we can assume that under Romney it would remain stalled.

You may know the Mitt Romney whose economic program consists mostly of keeping old tax cuts and passing new ones. But Obama found himself debating a candidate who vowed there would be no tax cut if it would enlarge the deficit -- as that other Mitt Romney's program would almost certainly do.

Obama found himself in the strange though not unexpected position of being attacked for using Romney's Massachusetts health care program as a model. When the subject came up, Romney said that "the best course for health care is to do what we did in my state." Obama tried to do that, but Romney won't take yes for an answer.

Having it both ways and all ways is Romney's specialty. In his previous life, he supported abortion rights, gun control and gays in the military. Today, not so much.

It's not just positions Romney held years ago that he has jettisoned; it's also positions he's taken in this campaign. One Mitt Romney attacked Texas Gov. Rick Perry for endorsing the Dream Act, which would allow some people brought to this country illegally as children to gain legal status. When Obama decided to stop their deportations, this Romney criticized the decision.

But the other Mitt Romney refused to disclose whether he would keep it. Then he said he would allow those young people reprieved by Obama to stay until Congress enacts "the full immigration reform plan that I've proposed."

What exactly that "reform" would consist of remains unclear to the young immigrants and everyone else. As with his plan to cut tax loopholes, the details and even the outline will be drawn later.

Romney's temperate debate approach was intended to reassure independent voters who fear he'll be a hostage of the Tea Party. But it had another, stranger effect: When he was upholding hard-right positions, conservative commentators regarded him as irredeemably moderate. Now that he's embracing moderation, they hail him as a conservative hero.

But whatever your views on an issue, you can hold out hope that Romney shares them, or soon will. With him, no position is ever final; no star is ever fixed.

This presidential campaign has produced few laughs but at least one joke: A liberal, a conservative and a moderate walk into a bar. The bartender says, "Hi, Mitt."

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  • SIV||

    Romney left Obama looking like a nearsighted farmer chasing a greased pig in a dark barn.

    Implying all you could see was Obama's big white eyes...RACIST

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I thought chasing a greased pig in a dark barn was a euphemism.

  • Fluffy||

    You guys both said "dark".

    That's straight up racist, dudes.

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  • Palin's Buttplug||

    The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that Romney's budget plan would increase the federal debt from 73 percent of gross domestic product to 86 percent over the next decade -- even more than Obama's.

    Romney "won" by running to the far left with more force than Obama could.

    He will win the foreign policy debate by promising a ground war with Iran.

    Winning.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    See these are the kind of tears I'm talking about below.

    Unfortunately there are more idiots that are enthralled by his, uh, whatever you call it than there are idiots on the other side. So, we won't get the tears. On the other hand, if you're all for Mitt's policies, you won't have to worry, because Obama will implement all of them.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Tears?

    Even Newt called Romney a liar on NBC. We all know it.

    It is no big deal.

    Obama is a pussy for not calling him out during the debate.

  • wareagle||

    but when Camp Obama accuses Romney of giving a guy's wife terminal cancer, no lie there. Or in Obama's phony tax figures. Just stop. This pretense that no politician has ever stretched numbers prior to Romney is bullshit.

  • Kroneborge||

    +1

  • ||

    Oh bull-fucking shit...they all lie and we all lie but Romney takes lying to a whole separate universe. He is about the biggest piece-of crap liar ever, Neither one of these clowns deserve to be President. WHich is why I already voted Libertarian (they have early voting in my state)

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Hey look at Stevie C running the false flag op. Guess it was his turn this week.

    No one with any sense wants Mittens to win for any of his policies or planks. The only reason anyone of any worth wants him to win is for the sweet delicious O-bot tears.

    Unfortunately that won't happen, so there's really no upside. It's just going to be a depressing and intensely annoying ride to walled compounds, private security and papers-please style police state.

    Fortunately for me, I already live in one of those (well minus the police state part, thanks to the UN disarmament program).

  • free2booze||

    The other Mitt Romney

    Funny, I heard Robert Gibbs make the exact same talking points over the weekend. There's plenty of reasons to be critical of Romney, but this reads like it was taken right out of the DNC playbook. I expect better.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    From the Chicago Tribune?

  • free2booze||

    Good point

  • geo1113||

    Liar and the other Mitt. It's no coincidence that Obama was on the stump the next day calling for the real Romney while his minions where all over the place calling Romney a liar.

  • ||

    It reads like it's all true.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Barack Obama had a tough time in the debate because he was told he would be debating Mitt Romney...

    Had there been no surpises, President Obama could have mouthed his attack ads and won the debate.

  • Loki||

    Near as I could tell that was pretty much all he tried to do anyway. Which probably was the strategy going in, but when he failed to adjust to Mitt's tactics, it shows a pretty obvious lack of ability to think on one's feet for "the smarted man to ever be elected president".

  • squarooticus||

    I assume "Steveh" is like "Timmeh", which is about right.

  • DJF||

    Mitt is a modern politician, he is both a floor wax and a desert topping.

  • DJF||

    Obama is the opposite, he is a desert topping and a floor wax.

  • wareagle||

    Obama pulls out this "tax breaks for outsourcing" nonsense and no one bats an eye. Is it because folks like Chapman believe it to be true? And do they also believe Mitt caused some guy's wife to get cancer? Politicians stretch truths; why is this surprising and haven't we watched Obama do it for four years?

  • geo1113||

    The reason for this is because people are too lazy to do any research on their own. They just want info that suits their narrative. When you try to explain stuuf to them, they just get this glassy look in their eyes.

  • Romulus Augustus||

    I never got the "tax breaks for outsourincg" meme. No Obamist could ever explain it to me either. Manufacturing companies get a corporate tax break whether or not they outsource.
    In fact, if outsourcing increases their profits, they'll pay even more in federal taxes so in that sense there already is a penalty for outsourcing!

  • geo1113||

    Romulus, the other thing they bring up is that companies get a tax break because they don't pay full US tax until profits are repatriated. There is a tax deferral, but the idea is to allow US companies to remain competitive with other countries who have the same deferral. Here is a good explanation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hapfclt6mFY

  • R C Dean||

    the other thing they bring up is that companies get a tax break because they don't pay full US tax until profits are repatriated.

    The fundamental problem is the government's assertion that it has the right to tax earnings on overseas operations. Virtually no other government in the world does this.

    There's no tax break, or even deferral of a legitimate tax in view here at all, because money that is earned overseas from overseas operations should not be taxed, period.

  • Alex the wolf||

    exactly

  • VG Zaytsev||

    No Obamist could ever explain it to me either.

    Nor have the explained why they didn't eliminate the imaginary tax breaks when the had complete control of Congress.

  • geo1113||

    They were too busy ramming Obamacare down our throats.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    It takes a lot of time to craft thousands of pages of legislation you don't read.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    they're both terrible...let's just quit and start over

  • FD||

    "But whatever your views on an issue, you can hold out hope that Romney shares them, or soon will. With him, no position is ever final..."

    This is the job requirement of the office, of all offices.
    Did you just grow up?
    Did you suddenly have an epiphany regarding politicians?
    Or is it just Mitt you can't stomach, while you eagerly consume a forkful of tripe from the others?

    Weak and shallow effort, like the subject matter.

  • Ken Shultz||

    What's Romney's position on throwing Obama out on his ass? Is he consistent on that one?

    Because until Obama gets thrown out of the White House, that's the only position I really care about.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    there are worse people than Obama...still not convinced which side of terrible Romney is...

  • Ken Shultz||

    A couple of examples...

    Obama squandered $800 billion out of our future paychecks on stimulus; Romney opposed the stimulus.

    Obama nationalized GM; Romney opposed nationalizing GM.

    Obama is going around bragging about the stimulus and bragging about having nationalized GM...

    Romney may bring some fresh new hell, but we're never gonna work our way out of hell altogether unless start working our way towards the exit. Given Romney's stance on those two issues, I think it's a good bet that Romney hell will be a whole lot better than the Obama hell we're in now.

  • KPres||

    What's the likelihood of an invasion of Iran under Romney vs under Obama?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I think they're about the same.

  • Beowulf||

    not that I like Mitt, and the column was basically okay, but Steve Chapman is featured on Reason.com for what particular reason? Given a choice, I'd rather you feature David Brooks...

  • Lisa||

    because he supports the drug war. Not that it's a good reason to publish everything else of his, but I'm 99% that's why they do it.

  • Lisa||

    arghs I mean he's against the drug war.

  • T o n y||

    Are you saying Reason is exclusively a right-libertarian outfit? I know a lot of left-libertarians. They tend to be musicians. You'd think you'd want all the people under your umbrella you could get.

    But who are we kidding. I've been in the comments swamp long enough to know this is essentially a right-libertarian place.

  • Loki||

    Shorter Chapman: [slurp, slurp, slurp] "Oh Barack, how I love sucking your cock." [slurp, slurp, slurp]

    I'm suprised he can even type with Obama's dick shoved down his throat.

  • Lisa||

    It's very gracious of Obama supporters to concede that because Romney beat Obama soundly at the debate, that Romney may be closer to his equal. That generosity has not gone unnoticed by me.

  • johnl||

    It really seems like CPB is some kind of soft spot for reason. Guys, subsidizing it makes it *less* responsive to its member stations. It adds to the excessive compensation at the main office. Subsidizing CPB is even dumber than hiring people to chase picknickers off park benches.

  • Alex the wolf||

    So after reading this I get to this conclusion: maybe mitt wont end the subsidies for Public Broadcasting, just reduce them.

    I see, I rather vote for Barack Obama and continue with his "fair share" crusade.

    Is this the new york times????

  • mgd||

    The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that Romney's budget plan would increase the federal debt from 73 percent of gross domestic product to 86 percent over the next decade -- even more than Obama's.

    Interesting, given that debt is already over 100% of GDP. Where is CRFB getting this 73% figure? Every source I have seen puts GDP at around $14 to $15 trillion. With debt over $16T, we are well above 86% debt-to-GDP.

  • bluesky||

    Steve Chapman is really a writer and also content writer for that Chi town Tribune.

  • bluesky||

    Dorrie Chapman is a writer and also editorial writer for that Chicago, il Tribune.

  • jason||

    He have some good policies but need to be implemented as soon as possible.

  • Thomas O.||

    I think the conservatives and Tea Partiers are finally realizing that a) Romney, however inadequate he is, is still preferable to a second Obama term; and b) the real conservative reform will manifest itself in Congress... provided that the GOP can get a majority back in the Senate. All this talk about budget reform will be pointless if the Senate stays majority-Democrat and Harry Reid continues to be the gatekeeper for bill passage.

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