There are signs of a new phenomenon on the political horizon: Romney Democrats. You hear more and more Dems say they’d be willing to vote for Romney.

The thing about Romney is, while he’s not, of course, a real conservative, he’s also not a convinced, driven liberal on certain key issues such as immigration and universal freedom, like GW Bush, McCain, and Perry. Like Bush, Perry would push certain pro-illegal alien measures with all his strength. Romney would not do that.

I was reading the Wikipedia article on Romney last night, and you can see how his entire formation was through his career as a business consultant: what steps will make a business succeed, what steps will make it not succeed? He appears to bring the same outlook to politics. As a politician, he sees himself as a kind of business enterprise. What steps will make this enterprise succeed, or not succeed? This means that, while he is in general a liberal (as all mainstream politicians in the West are liberals), he will not commit himself à l’outrance to liberal ideals, the way Bush did. Strong opposition from the conservative base will make him pull back from any overly liberal scheme.

In 2007-08, he saw a market for a social-conservative Republican leader, and like a good business executive he diligently re-made himself as that and sold himself as that. The marketing effort ultimately failed, and so he abandoned it, and subsequently re-branded himself as a moderate economic conservative. When he does these flip-flops, it’s not that he is being dishonest exactly. Rather, the man has so little interiority (at least when it comes to his political beliefs) that such concepts as honesty and dishonesty don’t really apply to him. He lives in terms of externals: What is the political “market” demanding right now? What “business strategy” will work right now? Once he answers the question for himself, he reshapes himself accordingly, and then uses his formidable intelligence to try to explain away his ever accumulating contradictions.

- end of initial entry -

Nile McCoy writes:

Interiority? I had to look that up! Great word.

That’s a great analyses, and if its true - and I believe it is - then Romney’s positions on issues and how he governs will change frequently should he be elected, and possibly reelected. A lack of a strong inner core of beliefs does not bode well for a president, let alone a candidate.

Sophia A. writes:

Your analysis of Romney’s personality (strengths and deficits) was very perceptive!

James N. writes:

Romney’s summer home is in my town, and we do run into him every so often. I think your account is quite perceptive, but I would propose a minor modification.

I think he looks down on politics. Politics is irrational, politics allows non-experts to sway outcomes, politics is kind of beneath a Master of the Universe.

But, to make decisions in that realm, it’s something you have to do. But it’s not something to take seriously.

Mitt believes in EXPERTS. He thinks that, if you gather enough experts together, stir frequently, and season with a wise overseer, that you get the “best” answer. Certainly, in the venture capital world, this approach has served him very well.

The explanation for Romneycare is not that he’s a closet socialist. The explanation is that he listened to the experts.

He’s not good with conflict, and conflict, in spades, is what we are about to get. I don’t think he’s the right man for our times.

Kathlene M. writes:

So in other words Romney is a chameleon—a lizard who can change his colors according to his environment. That explains why Romney has adopted the homosexualist agenda. Despite the fact that 30 states have constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex “marriage,” Romney believes the recent polls that claim a slight majority (51 percent) of Americans are okay with same-sex marriage and, voila, he adapts accordingly.

If the 2012 election is between the Alien (Obama) v. the Lizard (Romney), pray for America.

LA replies:

Are you saying that Romney has signed on to homosexual “marriage,” which I’m not aware of, or that, by the logic of his m.o., he would sign on?

Also, this may be a quibble, but I don’t think “chameleon” is quite the right word for him. That implies instant changeability for no purpose other than to fit in with one’s environment. Yes, Romney is obviously highly changeable. But what I was suggesting seems to be the case with him is that he applies a rational, management-consultant process to problems and to his own positions, and adopts what he thinks will work best. In his own way, he’s not dishonest but sincere. He sincerely seeks the best position. But because his positions are based solely on externals and he lacks any fixed principles, he seems to other people to be wildly unreliable and slippery, which, objectively speaking, he is.

Mark Jaws writes:

I too have been liking Romney more and more, and I am interested in this talk about the experts Romney would have on his team, because I know one of them very well. And that would be Maj. Gen. James A. “Spider” Marks, Romney’s man in 2008 to head the National Security Council. I, then Lieutenant Jaws, had the privilege of serving under “Spider” Marks at Fort Bragg back in 1985-87 in the 319th Military Intelligence Battalion (Airborne), when it was then Major Marks. I have served with some great officers, but none of them has combined sheer competence, brilliance, persona, drive, tact, charm, and attractiveness as General Marks did. In fact, you might recognize “Spider” since he served as CNN’s Senior Defense Analyst during our war in Iraq. And not only that, but Spider was a wonderful father of three girls, married to a wonderful woman, whose company Lady Jaws enjoyed immensely. The son of a general himself, Spider is the epitome of the mid 20th century Army leader. If having selected Spider Marks is any indication of Romney’s overall judge of character and competence, then we have nothing to worry about.

Here’s something that Marks said about Kaddafi.

LA replies:

I am doubtful of your encomium to Marks, for the simple reason that no one operating at a high level in our present insanely liberal military and political system can be as sound as you claim Marks is.

September 28

Kathlene M. writes:

You wrote:

“Are you saying that he has signed on to homosexual marriage, or that, by the logic of his m.o., he would sign on?”

In Massachusetts he did sign on to homosexual marriage by enforcing the Goodridge decision when he didn’t have to.

Chameleon may or may not be proper but I thought it best described Romney’s reputation as a flip-flopper. According to the Romney Expose website, “Romney changed his position on over thirty key issues as he prepared to run for President four years ago. We all expect a politician to change their mind on one or two issues over the course of their career, but when someone changes their mind on EVERY foundational issue of importance to conservatives, we must be skeptical.”

LA writes (October 1):

I take back my quibble over “chameleon.” Given his constant and multiple changes, it’s a perfectly reasonable description of Romney.

Kathlene continues:

Here is Wikipedia on Goodridge v. Department of Public Health:

[T]he plaintiffs successfully argued that denying gay couples equal marriage rights was unconstitutional. The court specified that the original marriage law banned homosexuals from marrying. This law was left intact by the Goodridge ruling (“Here, no one argues that striking down the marriage laws is an appropriate form of relief.”). The court gave the Massachusetts Legislature 180 days in which to “take such action as it may deem appropriate” following its November 18, 2003 ruling. Gov. Mitt Romney ordered town clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses on May 17, 2004.

LA replies:

Your point being, I believe, though it’s not clear from the Wikipedia paragraph, that Romney was not required to act as he did. He went out of his way to begin enforcing the ruling immediately.

His eagerness to yield to the other side reminds me of how, just one week after Super Tuesday in February 2008, Romney leaped into McCain’s lap (who had lied about him and treated him brutally, and whom he had disagreed with so strongly on immigration), not even holding out for a few weeks before giving his endorsement. He destroyed his dignity when he did that.

I wrote about this on February 14, 2008:

If Mitt Romney had held onto his delegates until the convention, there was, in combination with Huckabee’s continuing campaign, a slight chance of stopping the nomination of McCain. Any means of doing so should have been pursued. So I am disappointed that Romney endorsed McCain today and asked his delegates to support him. As a result, we now face the certain nomination of a 71 year old mediocrity in obvious poor health, whose strongest beliefs are for open borders, for keeping our troops in Iraq for a hundred years, and for sticking it to conservatives every chance he can get. The Republican party has committed hara-kiri, while the Democratic party seems to be moving toward the selection of a nonwhite leftist messiah who will “unify” us (i.e., unify us around leftism) and take care of all our needs….

I must say regretfully that Romney does not look good in my eyes by rushing to endorse McCain just one week after Romney’s poor showing on Super Tuesday. A week ago Romney was fighting McCain with all his strength—and now, poof, he’s endorsing him? It doesn’t feel right…. Romney would have looked stronger if he had at least waited for a while. As it is, by rushing to endorse his chief rival, he makes it seem as if his own candidacy was meaningless. He lets down the people who backed him—who backed him, moreover, as the non-McCain. Romney is a highly rational person, and he gave rational, responsible-seeming reasons for giving his endorsement to McCain now. But what Romney misses is the intangible. And it’s the intangible that makes for leadership.

Then two years later, in February 2010, Romney endorsed McCain over his conservative challenger J.D. Hayworth in the Arizona U.S. Senate primary. I responded with this:

Palin’s endorsement of McCain in his Senate re-election bid was understandable, given her indebtedness to him as the man who raised her to national prominence. But Romney, the 2008 conservative standard bearer, endorsing McCain? McCain, the archenemy of conservatism? McCain, the man who viciously and dishonestly beat up on Romney during their last debate in 2008? The truth is that for all his good qualities, talents, and intelligence,—and I think he’s the most intelligent man in national politics in decades—Romney is not a leader. At his political core (I’m not speaking here of his personal core), he’s a plastic man, an opportunist. All through the 2008 primary cycle I said he was an opportunist you could trust, that is, he had offered himself as the leader of the conservative movement, and he could be trusted, as far as such things are possible in politics, to carry out that pledge. But that was then. His offer to be the leader of conservatism ended when his candidacy did, and he rushed in the most unseemly way to become McCain’s lapdog. And he’s still McCain’s lapdog today—completely unnecessarily and gratuitously. The reliable opportunist has become a reliable supporter of the number one anti-conservative in the Republican Party.

Sophia writes:

You wrote:

“Your last point is an argument against a Romney presidency, similar to the argument I made against a McCain presidency on the eve of the 2008 election. “


I’m just saying that conservatives at least since Reagan have a tendency to say, “there’s a Republican in the White House, we’re saved.” I exaggerate but only slightly. Do you remember how hopeful we were when Reagan was elected? Reagan turned out to be a Hollywood liberal on social issues. [LA replies: I don’t remember that he was a Hollywood liberal on social issues, but his nomination of the liberal mediocrity Sandra O’Connor to the Supreme Court, after his total opposition to Roe v. Wade, is a permanent mark against him.] As I said, or rather, quoted, politics is the art of the possible. The president can only do so much. It is up to us to do the rest. It is up to us to take our country and our culture back from the barbarians.

Another reason my point isn’t an argument against a Romney presidency is this: At this point I don’t give a damn what the left thinks. Bring it on, I say. Come out of the closet, leftists, and show the world how truly insane and destructive you are. I want to fight them. Because I’m a good fighter, and I’m on the right side.

Yes, I want kulturkampf. I said it and I’m proud of it.

Kathlene M. writes:

Where have you been hearing this talk of Romney Democrats? I saw an article by Dana Milbanks in the Washington Post called “Democrats for Romney?” Is this one source? In that article, Milbanks states that “Romney has a well-known history of more liberal positions on health care, climate change, gay rights and abortion,” all which appeal to liberals, of course, and to many Republicans as well.

However, I hear a lot of disillusioned white liberals talk about how Obama is being pushed around by Republicans and how Obama needs to get tough. I’ve heard nothing about how liberals would thus switch to Romney. At election time, liberals will still vote for Obama.

I do hear many Republicans talk about supporting Romney if he’s the nominee. My husband is one of those people. However, I also hear many conservative Independents and social conservatives who won’t vote for Romney if he’s the Republican candidate. I think Romney would lose many of the conservative base who would just vote third party, even if it means that Obama gets a second term. So even if Romney gains a bunch of Democrats to support him, he’d lose a bigger portion of the social conservatives.

Rush Limbaugh mentioned that the Republican Establishment has been pushing the idea that Romney is the most electable against Obama. Limbaugh dismisses this as the “conventional wisdom” that gave us the last loser, John McCain. I tend to agree.

LA replies:

I’ve heard in person one very liberal acquaintance say he would consider voting for Romney, and I’ve seen several comments on the Web by or about Democrats who say they would consider voting for him, because they’re so disillusioned with Obama.

Allan Wall (see his articles at Vdare) writes:

Regarding Gen. Marks, I followed the link supplied by Mr. Jaws and noticed this:

Marks is asked: “The United States is already in Afghanistan and Iraq. On how many fronts can the US fight?”

And his reply? “The U.S. can fight on as many fronts as it has to.”

Oh, really?

Sage McLaughlin writes:

One of the things about representative elections is that it forces us to come to a point. As I look at the Republican field I’m depressed by the fact that there is not one viable conservative candidate in it. We knew we weren’t going to get Edmund Burke’s ghost, but it is more than a little distressing that the candidates are so bad on so many issues, and especially on immigration, gay marriage, etc.

But I think you and I are in agreement that the main thing at the moment is repealing Obamacare. Let’s say Romney gets the nomination. It seems to me that his popularity with Democrats boils down to the fact that even they realize he’s not a principled conservative. At the least, he is no serious threat to liberalism.

Question: Can you support such a man for the highest office? I’m inclined to vote for whatever Republican wins the nomination this time around, although Perry would make it very difficult and I might even decline to vote for him in a head-to-head matchup with Obama. What is your mind on this?

LA replies:

My position remains what it has been since spring 2010: I will vote for any GOP nominee credibly pledged to repeal Obamacare.

James P. writes:

Like Allan Wall, I say, oh really? And this is the man Mark Jaws considers outstandingly competent?

We may also note that according to CNN,

As the senior intelligence officer for the 2003 liberation of Iraq, Marks was responsible for creating a complete understanding of Saddam Hussein’s military capacity and his intentions. Marks’s team provided the intelligence that resulted in the 21-day push to Baghdad, the destruction of Saddam’s regime, and the foundation of Iraqi democracy.

Based on the outcome of the war in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, we can say we certainly did not have “a complete understanding of Saddam Hussein’s military capacity and his intentions.” Far from it! And this is true even excluding Saddam’s capability and intentions with regards to Weapons of Mass Destruction, which was probably largely outside Marks’ purview when he created the “complete understanding” of Saddam and his military. Again we have reason to question the competence and judgment of General Marks. [LA replies: I’m not sure this is a fair point. Apparently Marks’s job was preparing the strategy for the advance of U.S. troops to Baghdad. That strategy did succeed very well. That there were other, unforeseen problems that arose after the initial U.S. success, the rise of the insurgergency and so on, which were probably beyond Marks’s purview, does not take away from the success of the initial action. The blame for that larger failure to understand the problems that would arise in post Hussein Iraq belongs at a higher level than Marks.]

Marks also said in the CNN interview,

The Gadhafi regime could collapse within days. The more significant issue is how do you facilitate a functioning and stable transition that eliminates and does include any remnants from Gadhafi’s 40-year reign of terror?

Obviously, the regime did not collapse within days—remember, Marks said this in March 2011. Furthermore, in March 2011, it was entirely obvious to intelligent observers that the “most significant issue” related to the overthrow of Kaddafi was NOT eliminating remnants from the former regime, but making sure that al Qaeda or similar groups did not take over afterward (see this). But military intelligence expert Gen. Marks says nothing of this—in his view, the only bad guys are Kaddafi’s men, and if we keep them in check the wonderful rebels will create a functioning and stable democracy! Yaay, democracy! Once again Marks is totally wide of the mark in his assessment of the situation.

In sum, Gen. Marks, the scion of the U.S. military intelligence community and the former commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, has a long track record of being profoundly wrong in his assessments of the Arab world. Concerning Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, his analysis is totally indistinguishable from the dreadful Bush/neocon philosophy. Contra Mark Jaws, we should not be excited that this man advises Romney, or view this as a reflection of Romney’s good judgment. Rather, we should see this as a sign that under Romney the United States will continue to pursue the same disastrous course it has pursued since at least 2001. This is no real surprise—Romney is an establishment candidate and thus simply cannot even imagine a foreign policy run by conservatives to serve American national interests rather than run by liberals to serve their crazed ideological goals.

September 29

James P. writes:

You wrote,

I’m not sure this is a fair point. Apparently Marks’s job was preparing the strategy for the advance of U.S. troops to Baghdad. That strategy did succeed very well. That there were other, unforeseen problems that arose after the initial U.S. success, the rise of the insurgergency and so on, which were probably beyond Marks’s purview, does not take away from the success of the initial action. The blame for that larger failure to understand the problems that would arise in post Hussein Iraq belongs at a higher level than Marks.

Marks did not create the operational plan for the advance to Baghdad. Marks was responsible for providing the intelligence that supported the operational plan that others created. Predicting the role of the Fedayeen, the rise of the insurgency, and Saddam’s strategy of “going to ground” were clearly within his purview, and he failed to predict any of those developments. It is true that the Bush administration would have been totally unreceptive to the message “the Iraqis will fight an insurgency if we invade and therefore we need more troops” but Marks never sent such a message.

LA replies:


Speaking of Hussein going to ground, I’d still like to know what happened to his touted vast network of tunnels and comfortable bunkers deep underneath Baghdad where he could hide with his pretorian guard for months. This was described before the war, and sounded like a serious problem; then I never heard it mentioned again, and instead of hiding in those bunkers, he hid like an animal in a little hole in the ground in a village next to the Tigris.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 27, 2011 05:31 PM | Send

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