Stephen Guy Hardin / May 18, 2011

The Morphing of Mitt

I like Mitt Romney.

Mitt seems like a very personable guy.

Honest. Reasonable. Reliable.

Good husband. Good father. Good friend.

He’s the neighbor you would ask to feed your dog and get your mail when you’re on vacation.

Mitt is the all American guy, who could be the male cheerleader in high school that was straight and still cool, even though he was a cheerleader and that was a still a little creepy.

But I digress.

I would love to just throw caution to the wind and jump on the Mitt in ‘12 bandwagon and go after Obama and the Democrats full bore.

I would like to, but I can’t, at least not yet.

Watching Mr. Romney in countless interviews defending the Obama-lite socialized medicine program he introduced into Massachusetts during his one term as governor is a little surreal and a whole lot of bad politics.

As governor of Massachusetts Mr. Romney slapped together a health care system that could pass for the hillbilly cousin to Obamacare. Being true to his Mormon roots of compassion and caring, as well as following in the liberal Republican footsteps of his father, George Romney, Mitt tried to provide a safety net for the citizens of his adopted state.

It’s a great idea on paper and on the campaign trail in Massachusetts, but reality is another thing.

Perhaps differing in their ultimate goals, the end result of Romney-care and the eventual result of Obama-care is the same. More government.

Obama and the Democrat Party have only one goal and that is the unregulated growth of the federal government and the eventual regulation of every breath and every step that the average American citizen takes. Whereas, Romney’s motives can be traced to his upbringing, religious beliefs and personal values, the reality of the inevitable failure of socialism has proven to be the great equalizer for Romney’s aspirations in Massachusetts and possible even his ambitions in 2012.

Mr. Romney’s compassion, integrity and ethics, while great to admire in a person and a president, is a distinct liability in the world of presidential primary politics. The single driving focus of any candidate for either of the two major political parties is to win primaries. As I often say, you can’t become president if you don’t get your party’s nomination. It may be a crummy way to pick a presidential candidate, but it’s the way things are.

In the face of withering attacks, from both right and left, on his attempt to create a state controlled medical monolith in Massachusetts, Romney has refused to abandon the principles he followed when he initiated the programs while governor. I respect his moral courage for not taking the obvious political path of saying he was wrong, but I also have to shake my head at the naiveté of a politician who should know better.

Disavowing his failed attempt at socialized medicine is the obvious political stratagem, but to quote Mr. Romney, “it wouldn’t be honest.” He did what he “thought would be right for the people of my state.” A mandate to buy insurance, he said, provides the best alternative to prevent people from taking advantage of the state by getting emergency care at enormous cost to everyone else.

This defense of his program in Massachusetts, while still decrying the need to dismantle Obamacare for the nation, is where Mitt runs into the glass patio door. There is no logic to supporting his programs in Massachusetts, while promising a swift demise to a national program that is identical in concept, philosophy and execution.

Come on Mitt, just say you were wrong, it’s not that hard, you’re married; you should be used to being wrong. I know I am.

Ah, perhaps that is what lies beneath. Is Mr. Romney, in his expensively packaged personal image and lacquered campaign package, unable to say, “I was wrong?”

Wrong, indeed.

The encapsulation of Mr. Romney’s political defense is best paraphrased as, Obama is wrong for doing what I did because Mr. Obama wants a “government takeover of health care,” while I just want to help people. My motives are pure and Obama aren’t, therefore I was right. That’s the kind of schizophrenic, twisted logic that keeps the nations divorce lawyers working overtime.

Following that path of Mitt’s tortured explanations to its dead end, what would stop President Romney from instituting his own agenda of overwhelming federal regulation and socialization, all in the name of helping people. Not much.

At least with Mr. Obama we know who we are dealing with. The singular problem with Mr. Romney and the other liberal Republicans out on the campaign trail is their soulless masquerading as conservatives. These closet Democrats only speechify about liberty, personal rights and excessive government during every national campaign cycle, but when they get into office they revert back to form. John McCain is a perfect example of this strategy and its ultimate failure.

When McCain performed his sudden change of heart and became a conservative, just in time for the 2008 GOP primary season, he didn’t fool anyone. McCain overplayed his hand and miscalculated his net gain when he plunked Sarah Palin out of the Alaskan wilds. The conservative passion of Palin only highlighted how liberal McCain really was and too many conservatives wished that their spots on the ticket were reversed.

Instead of being fooled by the arrogance of McCain the conservative base was enraged. This collective anger resulted in conservative voters staying home and sitting on their hands in silent (and not so silent) protest. We are now living with the results. Instead of a liberal McCain, we got a progressive Obama. The difference is only a mater of semantics, two tails on the same coin.

So, as the 2012 GOP primary season fast approaches we must remember how McCain morphed into a conservative after a long career as a liberal. We cannot allow ourselves to forget how the lack of a real conservative forced overwhelming numbers of Democrat and Republican conservatives to sit out the 2008 election.

We can only hope that as Iowa and New Hampshire approaches, we do not see the morphing of Mitt.

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