You have to have some sympathy for the impossible position of Republican Presidential nominee Willard Mitt Romney. On the one hand, he had to be sufficiently moderate for the voters of Massachusetts to elect him Governor, on the other, he had to be sufficiently immoderate to acquire the GOP nomination. As noted by others, these positions are incompatible. So will the real Mitt Romney please stand up? There are three mainstream positions on this. I will add a fourth:
- Mitt is really a Massachusetts liberal (or at least a moderate northeastern Republican, the kind David Brooks likes), and his positions to get the nomination were a head feint. Evidence: Romneycare
- Mitt is really a Randian libertarian, and his positions in Massachusetts were just instrumental in trying to obtain the nomination. His tell is that he named his son Taggart and brought Paul Ryan to be the VP
- Mitt is really just Mittonian, and the only thing he really cares about is Mitt (as opposed to the wider Libertarian agenda). The evidence is that his positions are inconsistent, but aligned to achieve a majority vote in the next election. His pursuit of wealth at Bain is just Mittonian.
- Mitt really has a split personality, who I will call Dr. Willard and Mr. Mitt.
Dr. Willard and Mr. Mitt could keep their identities separate in the pre-Internet age.
For instance, Dr. Willard is the nice genial uncle (the northeastern Republican) who wants to balance the budget, but would never hurt anyone or say mean things. Mr. Mitt derides 47% of Americans as victims.
Dr. Willard says health care mandates work and supports universal health care, Mr. Mitt calls them unconstitutional.
Dr. Willard supports the American auto industry, Mr. Mitt calls for Detroit to go bankrupt, and while you are at it, unplug Tesla and Fisker too.
Dr. Willard thinks abortion should be safe and legal, and we should respect precedent, Mr. Mitt does not.
Well, you get the idea. A website devoted to flip-flops is here. A You-tube collection is here.
The question is: which is correct? Is Romney intentionally and knowingly flip-flopping as a matter of strategy, or is he genuinely a split personality who can’t keep it together in the modern world under the intense observation, and at the time he is saying inconsistent things is unaware of their inconsistency?
Of course, people grow, and change their mind from time to time, and Emerson said: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” But to put it in terms Mittonian Romney might understand, if you cannot maintain a position from day to day, who will trust and believe you? The Confidence Man game can only go on for so long until everyone catches on.
For an historical rail example of the confidence game, see Lord Gordon-Gordon.