Sunday, May 6, 2012

Can the country afford a chameleon president?

Its true that the Republican Party dodged a bullet by nominating Mitt Romney over the other fringe candidates who were running in the primary. A Gingrich or Santorum or Perry candidacy would have likely spelled their doom for now.

In response, I've heard independent voters suggest that if you look at how he governed in Massachusetts, a Romney presidency might not be that bad. I would suggest that if the political mood of the country today matched what Massachusetts looked like in 2003, they might have a point. If we know nothing else about Romney, we can be certain that he is a political chameleon who changes colors to match his environment. And the country right now has almost nothing in common with the situation he found himself in 9 years ago.

The question we have to ask ourselves is what backdrop Romney will be hueing to should he win this election. We got a taste of that this week when he fired his foreign policy advisor Richard Grenell because he's gay. The reason they parted ways:
“It’s not that the campaign cared whether Ric Grenell was gay,” one Republican adviser said. “They believed this was a nonissue. But they didn’t want to confront the religious right.”
And the religious right noticed.
Gov. Romney is a politician rather than a statesman. While he will not do the right thing out of political conviction, he will do the right thing out of political convenience. This represents both a great challenge and a great opportunity for the pro-family community, since the governor has demonstrated in the Grenell affair that he is maneuverable.
That reminded me of something Grover Norquist said recently about their esteemed nominee.
All we have to do is replace Obama. ...We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. ... We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate.
So whether we're talking about social or economic extremists in the Republican Party, what we're seeing is that they've reconciled themselves to a Romney presidency because he's demonstrated that he's a push-over...he'll do as he's told.

I'm reminded of what Michelle Obama said yesterday when she introduced her husband.
And let me tell you something -- as First Lady, I have had the chance to see up close and personal what being President looks like, right?  I have seen how the issues that come across the President’s desk are always the hard ones...the problems with no clear solutions, the judgment calls where the stakes are so high and there is no margin for error. And as President, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, all you have to guide you are your life experiences, your values, and your vision for this country. That’s all you have.  In the end, when you’re making those impossible choices, it all boils down to who you are and what you stand for.
Beyond all the policy positions, I believe this is the root of what we need to examine in someone who is running for president. Many of the really important decisions that face the person in that office have not been telegraphed in a campaign. Perhaps the most significant example of that is what happened on 9/11.

This is what concerns me about Mitt Romney. We can't afford a president who will simply do as he is told and who has no core to fall back on when the real tough challenges come.

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