Mitt Romney

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Decides to Keep it Gay

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Massachusetts' highest court has tossed a Republican lawsuit to force a gay marriage ballot amendment in the circular file. Coming just a few weeks before Deval Patrick takes the governor's oath and Massachusetts becomes completely dominated by Democrats for the first time since the Dukakis era, the decision effectively casts legal gay marriage rights in stone. December 2006: Best month for gay marriage ever.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that it had no authority to order the Legislature to vote on a ballot initiative to ban gay marriage, but the justices gave Governor Mitt Romney a symbolic victory by scolding lawmakers for shirking "their lawful obligations."

Over at TPM Cafe, Eric Kleefield surveys the damage to hammy Gov. Romney.

[A]ides to Romney are seeking to spin the loss into a victory that social conservatives would approve of, pointing to a few words in the decision that scold the legislators for their inaction. Romney aides somewhat desperately declared that the court "confirmed once and for all that the Legislature has a constitutional duty to vote on the marriage amendment and that any failure to do so would be a violation of their oaths of office."

Despite the tough talk, this defeat is the last thing Romney's camp had hoped for. After all, it isn't long before the social-conservative activists Romney is courting realize that he suffered a total, ignominious defeat on what has become his biggest issue, and doesn't actually have a single conservative accomplishment to show for all his troubles.

This is right; it was a big part of Romney's campaign ramp-up to convince voters he'd moved right on gay issues and abortion. That brings up two questions.

1) Why, in order to become a viable 2008 candidate, is a Democrat expected to break with his party's left while a Republican's supposed to cuddle with his party's right? (I think I know why, but I'll throw it out there.)

2) Uh, one term as governor and no serious conservative accomplishments? Why is Romney considered such a serious presidential candidate? (Don't say it's because he never raised taxes; you could credibly argue that he was worse on taxes than Democrats like Bill Richardon and Phil Bredesen.)

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  1. Dave,

    Romney getting spiked to “activist judges” on gay marriage isn’t going to convince red meat righty voters that he’s a loser; it’s going to convince them that he’s one of them.

  2. 1) Why, in order to become a viable 2008 candidate, is a Democrat expected to break with his party’s left while a Republican’s supposed to cuddle with his party’s right? (I think I know why, but I’ll throw it out there.)

    Because in order to get elected, a candidate has to suck up to the center to get the undecideds on boards. The hard-core ideologues will vote for their respective party no matter who get’s on the ballet. Believe me, the GOP could run Karl Marx and RNC with a little help from the Hannitys and Limbaughs to spin him into a conservative icon, the average republican will only be too happy to vote for him as long as a Democrat lost.

    2) Uh, one term as governor and no serious conservative accomplishments? Why is Romney considered such a serious presidential candidate? (Don’t say it’s because he never raised taxes; you could credibly argue that he was worse on taxes than Democrats like Bill Richardon and Phil Bredesen.)

    Name recognition mainly, also the chance of rallying Republicans in the North East in the hope of getting high electoral votes states like Massachusetts, New York, et al.

    Did you honestly think that “liberal” and “conservative” really matter to any party? As I pointed out above, the only think they care about is votes, and they don’t care how they get them.

  3. EDIT: on board… ballot.

  4. 1) Why, in order to become a viable 2008 candidate, is a Democrat expected to break with his party’s left while a Republican’s supposed to cuddle with his party’s right? (I think I know why, but I’ll throw it out there.)

    Because presidents are elected, in part, to kill foreigners. Lately, the perception is that the wing-nut leftist Democrats aren’t interested much in doing that.

    2) Uh, one term as governor and no serious conservative accomplishments? Why is Romney considered such a serious presidential candidate? (Don’t say it’s because he never raised taxes; you could credibly argue that he was worse on taxes than Democrats like Bill Richardon and Phil Bredesen.)

    Because no one likes McCain, and the wing-nut rightists (read: K-Lo) love Romney because he just seems so RELIGIOUS….

  5. 1) Why, in order to become a viable 2008 candidate, is a Democrat expected to break with his party’s left while a Republican’s supposed to cuddle with his party’s right? (I think I know why, but I’ll throw it out there.)

    Because the asshat political consultants who espouse this type of “conventional wisdom” hate those damn dirty smelly hippies (liberals) and believe (wrongly) that it’s political suicide to move to the left.

    The people who create conventional wisdon — the DC cocktail party class — believe that own political values/beliefs represent John Q public. And since most of those middle aged, upper middle/upper class men and women tend lean center/center right people (especially socially), they believe that the whole country does/should too.

    I guess I would also add my own question that is an extension of the original question.

    Why are most of the extremist elements (Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Bill Bennett, etc) of the right treated as serious by political pundits but anyone to the left of Howard Dean is considered bat-shit insane??

    2) Uh, one term as governor and no serious conservative accomplishments? Why is Romney considered such a serious presidential candidate?

    Shallow bench???

  6. How come the high court in Goodrich vs Dept of Health could order the legislature to hold a vote to change the law, but in this latest case they decided they couldn’t order the legislature to act?

  7. Why is Romney considered such a serious presidential candidate?

    Is he tall?

  8. Because in order to get elected, a candidate has to suck up to the center to get the undecideds on boards. The hard-core ideologues will vote for their respective party no matter who get’s on the ballet. Believe me, the GOP could run Karl Marx and RNC with a little help from the Hannitys and Limbaughs to spin him into a conservative icon, the average republican will only be too happy to vote for him as long as a Democrat lost.

    Akira, that doesn’t explain why the it’s believed that Republicans can get the centrist votes while still cozying up to their base but Democrats can not and have to in fact run away from their base.

    Unless the implication is that the GOP has a LOT more hard-core ideologues than the Dems, and that Dems less likely than the GOP to vote for a candidate (from their party) who they believe has gone to far over the edge of the parties fringe.

    Not that I would disagree with the implication, I’m just not sure if that is what you were implying.

  9. I suspect that he has good hair, too. That’s important.

  10. Can he do that thing with his fist and thumb while delivering applause lines? That matters a lot.

    Bonus if he has footage of himself embracing children or firefighters in slow motion.

    If you have that kind of footage you don’t really need a platform. Especially if you’re also tall, handsome, and able to do that thing with your thumb while delivering applause lines.

  11. Why, in order to become a viable 2008 candidate, is a Democrat expected to break with his party’s left while a Republican’s supposed to cuddle with his party’s right?

    Because most geriatric pundits, of which we have a vast surplus, are stuck in the 50’s and 60’s where the leftists are dirty commie pinko hippies, and the righties are solid, Ward Cleaver types who “like Ike”.

  12. 1) Why, in order to become a viable 2008 candidate, is a Democrat expected to break with his party’s left while a Republican’s supposed to cuddle with his party’s right? (I think I know why, but I’ll throw it out there.)

    Because, as a whole, the United States is a fairly conservative country, at least in economic policy. Bill Clinton would be considered right-wing by European standards (with the exception of Britain). Even the xenophobic far-right of Europe generally espouses more, not less state interaction in the economy.

  13. I just want to say that I strongly support Weigel’s repeated comparisons between Romney and ham. It just makes sense.

  14. 2) Uh, one term as governor [Senator] and no serious conservative [liberal] accomplishments? Why is Romney [Edwards] considered such a serious presidential candidate?

    Easy on the eyes? Not in service long enough to have “flip flop” problems or skeleton problems? Joe’s point, above, is 100% on.

  15. I demand the right of same sex heterosexual marriage!!!!

  16. I have no gay marriage but am I un-libertarian for not wanting to see it mandated by the courts?

    As for your questions….

    1) Too obvious to answer

    2) Because he’s handsome and speaks well and…. what the hell else do you think there is?

  17. Screw the height! What about that other predictor of election success: how closely is Romney related to the English royal family?

  18. “Bonus if he has footage of himself embracing children or firefighters in slow motion.”

    But not embracing firefighters in a gay way.

  19. Wait…Howard Dean isn’t bat-shit insane???
    JMR

  20. Massachusetts’ highest court has tossed a Republican lawsuit to force a gay marriage ballot amendment in the circular file.

    I found this writing confusing. The first few times I read it I thought that:

    a) Republicans had filed a suit, the purpose of which was to get rid of (“force into the circular file”) the ballot amendment.

    b) that suit was thrown out.

    I think it might make more sense this way:

    Massachusetts’ highest court has tossed into the circular file a Republican lawsuit to force a gay marriage ballot amendment.

  21. 1) Why, in order to become a viable 2008 candidate, is a Democrat expected to break with his party’s left while a Republican’s supposed to cuddle with his party’s right? (I think I know why, but I’ll throw it out there.)

    Well, if you look at any poll which asks Americans whether they consider themselves liberals or conservatives, and it becomes pretty damned obvious. If a candidate looses the voters that consider themselves liberal, he can still appeal to a substantial enough number of voters to win an election. A candidate that looses the voters that consider themselves conservative might still win, but he’s going to have a long row to hoe to do it.

    The bottom line is, there are a helluva lot more voters in this country that consider themselves conservatives than voters that consider themselves liberals.

  22. 1) I think part of the reason is that Democrats are expected to break with their party’s left mostly in the general election, while GOP candidates are moving right in preparation for the primaries.

    But that doesn’t explain it all since the talk about triangulating Dems is starting before the primaries.

    Another past of the answer, IMHO, is that Dems are just tired of losing, (the great triangulater Bill Clinton is the last Dem to win the White House, the last non-fundie Republican [Bush 41] is last GOP Pres to lose it) and the thought is that American voters are more conservative than they are liberal, while a plurality is moderate. However Bush demonstrated in 04 that the Christian right can upset the balance of political power. The Christian right is estimated from time to time as being a quarter (this may be an exaggeration, but they’re still a big chunk) of the GOP’s base, while Dems are more thinly spread in terms of powerful constituencies.

    Still, the Dem will have to ultimately be pro-choice, pro-minimum wage, not crazy on immigration, and very critical of Bush on Iraq. So the Dem will still have to satisfy core liberal constituencies.

    2) I agree with Joe, jkp, and Lamar on this one.

  23. “2) Uh, one term as governor and no serious conservative accomplishments? Why is Romney considered such a serious presidential candidate? (Don’t say it’s because he never raised taxes; you could credibly argue that he was worse on taxes than Democrats like Bill Richardon and Phil Bredesen.)”

    Because Romney can play to the religious right during the primaries with his perceived religious background, but court the middle during the election because of what his administration was actually like.

  24. What did these Demo Pres hopefuls have in common at one time in their pasts: Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton, Dick Gephart, Al Gore? Answer: each advanced “pro-life” positions before flip-flopping on their way to contesting for the top spot on their party’s ticket. Dem hopefuls have to “get right” with their party’s mainstream on abortion and a few other issues, even if that puts them a few points off center for the electorate as a whole. Mind you, if these conversions are genuine, I’ve nothing against them, as I have undergone my own share of them. Let’s also remember that Triangulatin’ Bill Clinton, “Sista Souljah” moment and all, only managed a plurality (43%) in 1992. 4 years of incumbency, a revived economy, and a majority Republican Congress later, WJBC managed to just fall short of 50% in the popular vote. Even Jimmy Carter managed a sliver over 50%, as did Ronald Reagan in 1980.

    I wonder just what percentages of the electorate are “swing voters”, in primary and general elections, both.

    Kevin

  25. Chicago Tom:

    Oops. Sorry. I’m feeling like crap today and my brain isn’t quite working. Reading… comprehension… failing… Only one thing can help:

    Cherry pie and a hot cup of tea.

  26. Democrats are portrayed as having to moderate themselves while Republicans aren’t for one very simple — and very stupid — reason:

    Due to the stigma over being a self-described “liberal”, many people lean left that think they’re conservatives somehow, and when asked they say “I’m conservative!” without thinking. As a result, the term “conservative” is no longer a political term, but a generic compliment, akin to a kindergardener saying their teacher is “nice” when asked to describe them.

  27. 2) Uh, one term as governor and no serious conservative accomplishments? Why is Romney considered such a serious presidential candidate?

    My prediction is someone will be elected in ’08 that will want to “guarantee health care for every single American” or will think “healthcare is a right” such as Edwards, Obama, or Hilary.

    That is one reason I think Romney has a chance. Romney is the only one I can see out there with executive experience that has a plan for health care that doesn’t resort to a single payer system (of course he didn’t get it enacted in Mass., but he can always blame that on “liberal Massachusetts” during the campaign).

    I think Romney is closer to getting the republican nomination than most people think due the health care issue. Thats just my take on it.

  28. Why, in order to become a viable 2008 candidate, is a Democrat expected to break with his party’s left while a Republican’s supposed to cuddle with his party’s right?

    Because the nation as a whole is far more conservative than the Republican/Democrat split would indicate. States like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania don’t really have liberals, they have masses of industrial workers who are told every election season that the Republican candidate will send their job to Mexico.

  29. James B.,

    The Court can order the lesislature to act; it just can’t order it how to act.

    The legislature voted to recess without addressing the amendment – that is the action they chose to take.

  30. The Court can order the lesislature to act; it just can’t order it how to act.

    The legislature voted to recess without addressing the amendment – that is the action they chose to take.

    This is just surreal. The Court can order the legislature to act, but its perfectly alright if that ‘action’ is complete ‘inaction’?

    I’m not saying joe is wrong, I’m just saying its surreal.

    And probably no coincidence that both court decisions were pro-gay marriage in effect, if not in name.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

  31. RC,

    As a great man screeched, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

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