Thursday, February 15, 2007

Oh, no. 0-8!: Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up...

One-time Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced this week in Michigan that he was running for president of the United States. Meanwhile back in good ol' bleeding heart liberal Massachusetts, Bay Staters responded with shock and disbelief. Allow me to qualify. Bay Staters living under a large and soundproof rock responded in that way. Surely one would need to be a complete and utter fool to think that Romney declined to run for reelection as Governor for any other reason.

Although a Bay Stater, and this blog's main focus being "Western" Bay State politics, I am going to overlook the cynical, though probable, notion that Romney used us all as a giant step stool for the Presidency. Certainly there is precedent in other states AND it could be argued that Romney, may have declined to seek the presidency in 2008 against a Democratic incumbent (John Kerry?), had he prevailed in 2004.

However, whatever Romney's motives, plans, and schemes, the biggest problem with a Mitt Candidacy is deciding who Mitt Romney is. Is it the son of the late former Michigan Governor? Is it the man who "saved" the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics? Is it the venture capitalist who captured the Corner Office that same year? Is it the governor who presided over the introduction of Gay-marriage, a National political convention, universal health care legislation, and fiscal crisis? Is it the man who stood up after the Big Dig tunnel collapse and took command? Or is it somebody totally different?

These myriad descriptions are often in conflict with each other. Romney ran as a social moderate, or at the very least, a tolerant social conservative. Then came gay marriage. However, this may have been too much for his social conservativeness to stomach. However, he veered right on gay-adoption, sex-ed, and more. Romney made decisions, at least as I am sure he saw it, as a pro-business pragmatist, vowing to not raise taxes and cut the income tax. Yet, he raised fees for many, many things. He fought to end redundancies in state government (i.e. Boston Municipal Court, Turnpike Authority, Metropolitan District Commission, etc) with varying success. However, this attack on such agencies, which I find proper, could be dismissed as a politically motivated attack on traditional venues for Democratic patronage.

Once out there in the world, which was before his last year in office began, Romney began to mingle with the right to develop an image as the anti-McCain for the right of the Republican party. Nonetheless, he has had difficulty gaining credibility for being conservative enough. Perhaps the right feared he's feigning conservatism to win the nomination then swing to the center, opposite of his 2002 gubernatorial campaign. Yet, after the Republican bruising and delicious defeat last November, Romney's arm hasn't been around the right so much. After all, Bush and the GOP's old party line is no longer en vogue. Diehards like Sam Brownback, also running for the GOP nod, maintain the fanaticism. Not Romney.

I fully intend, barring unforeseen and unlikely circumstances, to check the box of the Democratic ticket for President. However, despite all his subterfuge, the only Republican running whose administration wouldn't scare me is Romney's. I would add Giuliani, but I can't picture the party nominating him. I believe that Romney is far more moderate than recent actions suggest. Still to the right of the man running for "gov'nah" in 2002, but otherwise centrist and open to working with all parties, unlike some Commanders-in-Chief. McCain, who will get his own place here, is not nearly as moderate as his reputation suggests.

Oh and Romney's a Mormon. I don't care and neither should anybody else. However, it does add just another persona for us to cull from the others.

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