*Posted by Kirk Spencer
I don’t like “small talk.” It seems to be stating the obvious just to pass the time. I do like the everyday stuff, but I’m usually looking for something more lasting in it. Recently my posts have been directed toward politics because I believe that history will show that this moment in our history will be extremely significant to the direction of our country and our culture. As such, I have written several posts on President Obama. It just seems to me that the President, as the president, is a much more interesting and culturally relevant figure. Plus, I always find people that disagree with me much more interesting than people that agree. President Obama’s background and his audacity sets up so many lessons on where we are going as a culture, especially after the progressive “left turn” we made throughout the last century. However, several folks have expressed concern that I have not written anything on Mitt Romney. So, this post will be on Romney. It still seems like “small talk” to me; but it is at least a big post about small talk. I have tried, to the best of my ability, to find all the reasons that you should not vote for Romney. And I have been very careful to present them in a way that reveals all my biases. It will all be strictly from my perspective—as usual. I’m sure it will not seem “objective” to some. And this is understandable, in that it is not—objective I mean. I have always believed it takes at least two to be really objective. We must figure it out together. So this is my side… and an invitation to “Come let us reason together…”
Romney thinks that 47% of the country is dependent upon government and so he does not care about them.
We find the basis for this belief in a clandestine video recording of statements that Mitt Romney made at a private fund raiser. It is such a “godsend” to those who hate Romney that any discussion about why we should not vote for Romney should include the statement in its entirety:
“There are 47% of the people who vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That, that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean the president starts off with 48, 49… he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-Seven Percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon, in some cases, emotion, whether they like the guy or not.”
It is true that some are more inclined to base their opinions on how things make them feel (emotions) and some are more prone to consider the facts. This statement by Romney is a prime example of that—some will react to it emotionally and others will consider the facts in it and surrounding it. For instance, this statement is often presented as part of a prepared speech by Romney. It wasn’t. It was an impromptu response to a very specific question which framed the response and, to be fair, should inform the interpretation. Here is the question that set up Romney’s response:
“For the past three years, all everyone’s been told is ‘don’t worry we’ll take care of you.’ How are you going to do it, in two months before the election, to convince everybody, you’ve got to take care of yourself?”
So Romney’s statement, as an answer to this question, is really not about whether he does or does not care about certain people—but rather how he is going to change a pattern of dependency in two months (presumably to get their votes). Even if someone wants to ignore the question and the context to the words, we are still just talking about words and not deeds. If we were talking about actions, we would look at things like charitable contributions and time spent serving in the community. As just words, this discussion is really about who says “I care” with the most believable amount of feigned sincerity. So, even if Romney says he really, really does care about 100% of everybody (which he has done), those who hate Romney will just say he is lying like always. And the fact that he only said it after he was prompted doesn’t mean anything because he has to; he should have done it before he got into trouble for not doing it (I think I have had this discussion with my wife a few times.)
Now, don’t get me wrong, Romney does make a grave mistake (or disseminate misinformation, if you like). The mistake that Romney makes (and it’s a big mistake) is to equate the 47% of Americans who pay no Federal Income Tax with the 47% that vote Democrat on a regular basis. Another embarrassing mistake (or intentional misrepresentation, if you prefer) is to believe that those who do not pay any Federal Income Tax are dependent upon the government and consider themselves as victims and entitled to have the government take care of them. This is simply and clearly not the case. If for no other reason, these numbers do not factor into the Democrat mix the vast number of democrats who vote based upon liberal social ideology, labor and crony capitalist connections and the all-important likability factor.
While Romney was very wrong on whom the 47% represents, that does not mean that there is not validity in the principles he was addressing. For instance, it is reasonable to assume that people will, in fact, vote for their “meal-ticket.” If there were Americans who depended on government entitlements and subsidies of varying amounts, those voters could be expected to vote for the party that is more interested in maintaining, or increasing, these subsidies. And if their vote is based on how much they get, then ideas are not going to change their vote. In such cases, getting their vote means promising them more than the other guy. We can debate the size (percentages) and the loyalties (motivations) of such dependency cultures; however, most would agree that they do exist.
Also, the idea that “government has a responsibility to care for its citizens and provide food, shelter and healthcare, among other things, according to a person’s needs and not according to their abilities” is really quite common in higher education and many Americans have been through higher education.
I think it is also safe to say that the 47% of Americans who do not pay any Federal Income Tax are not going to be very interested in the debate about lowering Federal Income Tax because they don’t pay any. However, they might be susceptible to demagoguery about how, if someone reduces taxes on the rich, they might have to begin paying taxes to make up the difference.
Before we move to the next reason not to vote for Romney, let me just restate clearly that I do agree that Romney made a mistake in stating that the 47% that pay no Federal Income Tax are the same as those who vote Democrat, who are also the same as those who think the Government should give them everything. This does show a lapse in judgment, or an alarming ignorance, or an even more alarming intentional dissemination of mis-information. Which of these is the case can best be discerned by considering his actions as a whole and not in an isolated incidence.
Romney is a flip-flopper and so you can’t trust him. Even one of Romney’s own advisors said he was like an Etch-A-Sketch.
Romney’s advisor’s Etch-A-Sketch comment was about the campaign and the transition from primary to general election. Even those who believe Romney changes his positions back and forth to pander to everyone should be able to see that the advisor’s statement is in the context of changing campaign strategies between primary elections and general elections. This is not something particular to Romney. Nor is it underhanded. All candidates (at least the ones who want to win) know that in the primary election you turn the knobs of the “Etch-A-Sketch” to expose the true aspects of your campaign that appeals to your base to win the primary where your base makes up the electorate. In the Republican party that tends to be conservative. And then, in the general election, you shake up the “Etch-A-Sketch” and begin turning the knobs to expose the true things about your campaign that appeals to the center where most of the swing votes are. (Notice it is about messaging, putting your best foot forward, it is not about lying or changing your position.)
That Romney is a “flip-flopper” is a critique if have heard and read over-and-over again in words and print. It has been repeated so many times throughout two separate primaries and general elections cycles that it has become a truism. It is so axiomatic that what I am about to say will seem impertinent to most who think this is true of Romney. However, for what it’s worth, this is what I have found and these are my thoughts on the matter. In the times that I have seen the “flip-flopping” criticism it is usually said with extreme prejudice but with little or no examples (other than abortion). The list of Romney “flip-flopping” that I have seen usually showcases his “evolution” on the abortion issue (anyone who knows the Republican Base will see the usefulness of highlighting this one). As best as I can tell, this is indeed a change in Romney’s position and the fact that Romney has changed his mind on such an important issue as abortion will certainly give an air of truthfulness to any others “flip-flopping” that may be listed along with it.
Much of the material I have found involves media commentators commenting and making jokes about the supposed fact that Romney is a flip-flopper. Here is a very popular video montage of such. In many areas, if not most, I have found the examples of Romney’s “flip-flops” are not quotes from Romney, but people saying what Romney said or implied what he meant without actual quotations. Also, there are examples that are referencing completely different things (such as stem-cell research and cloning) and thus cannot be a “flip-flop” because they are referencing different subjects. In the list given in this post, I am only addressing Romney’s actual statements.
Here are the “flip-flops” I could find:
- Romney On Abortion Rights
“I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.” “Since that time [when a relative died of an illegal abortion], my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter, and you will not see me wavering on that.”
“It [that a stem cell researcher said we “kill” the embryos after 14 days] hit me very hard that we had so cheapened the value of human life in a Roe v. Wade environment that it was important to stand for the dignity of human life.”
“The right next step to preserve the sanctity of human life is to see Roe v. Wade overturned.”
[Romney has obviously flipped on this issue. He has not flopped back however. I know that skeptics say this change of heart is because he wanted to be president and needed his conservative base. I am not as jaded. I believe there is a possibility that he is being truthful and actually did hear a stem-cell researcher use the word “kill,” in reference to the human embryos he was destroying; and realized that even a person who works with this “material” on a day-to-day basis and had been hardened to all the arguments still used the word “kill.” I can see how this could break through the dogma he had accepted and caused a real change of heart. As such, he stopped basing his decision on emotional or anecdotal events (which are heartbreaking) and considered the larger picture (and principles) of basic human rights.]
- Romney On Health Care
“That’s what we did in Massachusetts, we put together an Exchange and the President is copying that idea, and I’m glad to hear that.”
“ObamaCare is bad news and if I am president of the United States I will repeal it.”
[I don’t see a flip or a flop in this one. In the first statement, Romney is speaking about the concept of a medical “Exchange” as the Healthcare bill is being developed, which he thinks is a good idea. The second statement is made after the bill was fully developed, with many other very controversial provisions and all this signed into law. The fact that he would like one aspect of the bill while in development and not like the law as a whole is not flip flopping. It is not even surprising. Many times in the history of our congress, the very sponsors of bills have voted against their own bills because it had been modified so much in the legislative amendment process. To this point, it also should be made clear that Romney supports healthcare legislation at the state level, statewide healthcare programs like he instituted in Massachusetts (even that all states would do similar things) but not at the Federal level as in ObamaCare. Some may think this is hypocritical, but it is in line with an important aspect of his party’s view on States’ Rights. It is something the states can do better, in their own timeframe and in a way they want, rather than having it forced upon them by the Federal Government.]
- Romney On Stimulus Spending
“I have never supported the president’s Recovery Act, the stimulus.”
“I think there is need for economic stimulus”
[Again, I don’t see this as a flip or a flop. The first statement is about a specific law and the second about the concept of stimulating the economy which can be done in many ways.]
- Romney On Reagan
“Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan/Bush. I’m not trying to return to Reagan/Bush.”
“The principles that Ronald Reagan espoused are as true today as they were when he spoke them.” “Ronald Reagan is one of my heroes.”
[It is certainly possible that someone could believe principles to be true and see a person as a hero and still not want to “return to” all the elements of some past administration.]
- Romney on Not Hiring Illegal “Immigrants.”
“I don’t think I have ever hired an illegal in my life”
“We hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants that were working there.”
[He hired the company, not the illegals. And when he hired the company, one could assume that he did not know that they employed illegal immigrants.]
- Romney On Climate Change
“I believe the world is getting warmer… I believe that humans contribute to that.” “I think the global warming debate is now pretty much over and people recognize the need associated with providing sources which do not generate the heat that is currently provided by fossil fuels …” “I concur that climate change is beginning to [have an] effect on our natural resources and that now is the time to take action …”
“My view is we don’t know what is causing climate change on this planet.” “Unfortunately, some in the Republican Party are embracing the radical environmental ideas of the liberal left. As governor, I found that thoughtful environmentalism need not be anti-growth and anti-jobs. But Kyoto-style sweeping mandates, imposed unilaterally in the United States, would kill jobs, depress growth and shift manufacturing to the dirtiest developing nations. Republicans should never abandon pro-growth conservative principles in an effort to embrace the ideas of Al Gore.”
[I could see how someone might believe what Al Gore was preaching, especially with all the multi-media and mainstream media support, and then move to an agnostic position based upon many recent findings both scientific and propagandistic. It is possible that someone could even believe that man was causing global warming and not want to destroy the economy because of a knee jerk reaction to what is not completely certain to everyone. Also notice the change in terminology. The old term was “global warming” the new term is “climate change.” The terms themselves suggest a growing agnosticism. Even proponents are no longer as sure it is getting warmer, but it certainly is changing. To me “climate change” is so obvious it really serves very little purpose except as a rallying point for politics and funding. Paleo-Climatologists have known that global climate has been changing, back and forth, for a long time… that’s what the Ice Ages were all about and no one believes the Ice Ages were caused by humans.]
- Romney On “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
“I am also convinced that it [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell] is the first of a number of steps that will ultimately lead to gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military… That goal will only be reached when preventing discrimination against gays and lesbians is a mainstream concern, which is a goal we share.”
“It’s [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell] been the policy now in the military for what, 10-15 years, and it seems to be working.” “This is not the time to put in place a major change, a social experiment in the middle of a war going on. I wouldn’t change it at this point. We can look at it down the road.”
[I just don’t see this as a change. I see a man who wants people to live in openness and freedom even if he might disagree with their lifestyle. However he does not want to make changes that would cause a disruption in a war and put lives at risk.]
- Romney On Assault Weapons Ban
“I just signed a piece of legislation extending the ban on certain assault weapons”
“I do not support any new legislation of an assault weapon ban nature.”
[To me this just means that Romney thought the first legislation was enough and he did not want new legislation… He did say “new” in the second quote.]
- Romney On NRA Endorsement
‘That’s [supporting the Assault Weapons Ban] not going to make me the hero of the NRA… I don’t line up with a lot of special interest groups.”
“I’m after the NRA’s endorsement. I’m not sure they’ll give it to me. I hope they will. I also joined because if I’m going to ask for their endorsement, they’re going to ask for mine.”
[Not completely “lining-up” with a special interest in all your votes and seeking that group’s endorsement for election does not seem to be such a scandal to me. I suspect that if a politician’s vote, did line up with special interest groups the skeptics would say this is a clear indication they are in that Interest Groups “pocket.”]
- Romney On His Favorite Book
“Actually the one by L. Ron Hubbard, I hate to think … I’m not in favor of his religion by any means, but he wrote a book called ‘Battlefield Earth’ that was a very fun science fiction book.”
“Huckleberry Finn is my favorite fiction and the book by Hubbard, who founded Scientology, is my favorite science fiction reading.”
[First of all, it’s not even a change. Second, it’s about a book, not policy or political position. Third, certainly our ideas of favorite book could change as we read more books or even remember books we have read in the past. And I might add that including this one in lists of “flip-flopping” (which is done) is a mistake because it shows how few examples there really are when the compiler of the list would include something like this.]
- Romney On Something About Taxes
I have included this category (Romney has “flip-flopped” on taxes) even though I cannot find particular quotes. I am not even sure I know what it is about. But it is repeated over-and-over so I thought I would guess at what it might be about. I found some discussion about how Romney didn’t want to sign a pledge to not raise taxes many years ago and now he favors not raising taxes. That just seems like good business sense to me. Of course we are going to make decisions about taxes based on the changing economy.
The Tax Accusation may also have something to do with Romney’s selection of Ryan as his running mate. Paul Ryan believes that there should be some kind of “means testing” for Medicare Benefits. “Means testing” means (as best I understand it) that “Rich People” with lots of “means” will receive only minimal Medicare Benefits because they can afford healthcare. And this will allow the money which should go to the rich people (because they have been paying into the program) to go to those with less “means” who find it more difficult to cover their healthcare needs. Romney agrees with this and mentioned it in the debates. Maybe this is what they mean by changing his view on raising taxes, but that is not about taxes.
The accusation may also be a reference to Romney wanting to simply the tax code by eliminating certain “loopholes” and deductions… but this is not changing his position on not raising taxes… it is about simplifying the tax code which the Republicans have had on the table for a long time.
Before actively looking for lists of Romney’s supposed “flip-flops,” I had not seen any that were very convincing (other than his “conversion” on the abortion issue); but I assumed there must be many very clear examples of flip-flops for so many people to be saying it over-and-over again. Now that I have taken some time to look at what’s out there, I am convinced this is a folk-history. A “folk-history” is something repeated so many times that people assume it’s true to the point that anyone who says otherwise is considered an idiot. Well, call me an idiot, but I’m not seeing it.
When Romney was at Bain Capital, he enjoyed firing people and taking companies apart just to make money for himself. He’s a Venture (Vampire) Capitalist who only wants to make a profit.
First of all, when people say that Romney likes to fire people it is a reference to a specific comment Romney made in the context of his wanting to having the ability to end a healthcare service which is not serving him (free market) so that the whole industry will improve (competition) rather than just having to take what-you-get (federal mandates). Romney’s comment is in no way about him enjoying seeing people suffer by taking away their jobs. Here is the full quote:
“I want individuals to have their own insurance,” Romney said. “That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service that I need, I want to say I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.”
Bain Capital is a financial services company that specializes in venture capital (among other things). They help solve problems and start-up businesses. There is high risk involved so it is reasonable that these companies want more control. And because start-up companies are risky, many do fail. And yes, all this is done for a profit… They are not a charitable organization. It is about building strong and profitable companies to generate jobs by solving problems and helping organizations survive. I don’t see how Romney having this experience is a bad thing when the country needs to build companies, solve problems and generate jobs so that we can survive financially. Someone who has proven experience in turn-around financial management seems exactly (and I mean exactly) like the kind of person we need overseeing our financial turn-around.
I hear that there have been some really shady business dealings at Bain, but I never hear any specifics. It doesn’t really matter though because even if I had specifics, I am sure I would not know enough about business to evaluate it. However, whatever is said, it should be kept in mind that Romney left Bain in 1999 to help “turn around” the Olympics. After that, Romney did not return to Bain but went into politics. I know that people say he was the CEO of Bain while he was saving the Olympics, but I don’t think anyone believes that he was really running both organizations. It is a matter of record that Bain was run by a management committee, as it still is.
When this criticism of Romney (that he did not have a sterling business career) was first raised, Bill Clinton said:
“I don’t think we ought to get in a position where we say this is bad work. This is good work… There’s no question that in terms of getting up and going to the office and, you know, basically performing the essential functions of the office [president], a man [Romney] who’s been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold.”
I have not heard that Clinton has retracted this statement although, at the time, he was under pressure to do so.
Romney is a really rich guy and grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth.
As best I understand it, this argues that because Mitt Romney inherited his wealth, he does not have the right to be president or he will not make a very good president. Someone needs to explain the details of this argument to me, because without explanation, it sounds like it is based upon an emotional appeal to class warfare, pitting the “haves” (such as Mitt Romney), against the “have-nots” (those who don’t have as much as Mitt Romney). This argument (or rather emotional appeal) is contingent on the assumption that the have-nots will be jealous of the haves and exhibit their prejudice at the voting booth in a mindless emotional knee jerk reaction. This “argument” says more about those who would accept it rather than the qualifications of a rich man. However it is a common and simple formula: “rich=bad.” However, I have known a lot of rich people in my life and, to a person, they were very giving people. I recognize that my contacts were with rich people in the church and so my experience is certainly not representative. However, my experience does suggest, to me at least, that the stereotype of the “greedy rich” is just that—a stereotype; the exceptions have been made the rule for political propagandistic or even demagogic purposes. If you are considering not voting for Romney simply because he is rich, I invite you to stop and think about all the rich people you know (or even the people you know who have more than you do) and consider if they fit the stereotype that must be accepted for this critique to make sense.
If the point is that those who grow up rich just can’t understand the struggles of those who are not rich—again I don’t get it. They can certainly understand intellectually. The idea that someone is not qualified to lead unless they have experienced everything that those they lead have experienced seems odd to me. It seems to be putting empathy over competence. I would much rather have someone who was competent and got the job done, then someone who just kept saying “I know how you feel. I grew up poor too,” but then does absolutely nothing to help.
In terms of Romney inheriting his father’s wealth and never knowing what it is like to have to struggle, here are the facts as best as I can find. It is true that Mitt Romney’s grew up in a rich family. He lived in a posh neighborhood and he went to private schools. However, this seems to have changed when he left home and married Anne. They lived off money from selling stock his father had bought for him on his birthdays. Evidently it was a good investment for this money allowed them to focus on college and rent a basement apartment. When Anne and Mitt’s parents (who are rich) would visit them, they would not offer help and the Romney’s would not ask. The parents just said “we can’t believe you are living like this.” Romney did not expect his father to provide for him, he wanted to make-it-on-his-own and his father let him. Romney did ask his father for a loan (not a gift) to buy his first house. People say “well that’s a hard life living off selling stock.” No, it’s not a hard life. It provided a normal life. That’s the point… Mitt Romney and his father both wanted him to make-it-on-his-own so that he would know what is was like as well as to prove he could do it on his own—the very thing that people are now saying that Romney does not understand because his father was rich. I just don’t get it. It is almost as if people are determined to create a narrative that has nothing to do with the facts. Mitt Romney did eventually inherit his father’s money, but by the time his father died, because of Romney’s “sterling business sense,” he was already rich on his own and so he donated all of his windfall inheritance to Brigham Young University. Correct me if I’m wrong, but these are the facts as I have found them.
Romney wanted the Auto Industry to go bankrupt
I think this criticism of Romney is so powerful because people think that bankruptcy means that someone comes in and fires everyone, chases them out and boards up all the doors and windows and all those resources just decay into nothing. Bankruptcy is about reorganizations to help save the company and the jobs with it. If it is being mismanaged then those who are mismanaging it might lose their jobs and others might lose their jobs because of the incompetence of the earlier managers and management choices (the reason for financial management services). The auto industry—actually just GM and Chrysler the other ten auto companies did not receive a cent from the Feds and survived on their own—did go through managed bankruptcy. Let me restate that… they did go through bankruptcy. They just did it by borrowing money from the Feds (meaning China since the U.S. is out of money). It was Bush’s idea originally, President Obama expanded it. Obama (and maybe Bush) will get the credit for “saving” the “auto industry” (through managed bankruptcy) and our children will pay-off the bill for it.
Romney wants to kill Big Bird.
He wants to cut federal funds to Public Broadcasting in an attempt to balance the budget. Some people might assume this means that PBS will go out of business and Big Bird will become extinct. I suspect that the small percentage of federal funding that PBS receives is not necessary for its survival of PBS and Big Bird. This is especially true to me after years and years of being inundated with all the Elmo stuff. With all the money they are making just off Elmo and Big Bird they could probably help fund the government. PBS funding is a relatively painless and insignificant cut. If the government cannot make this cut, then there is no chance that we will be able to make the really difficult decisions ahead to balance the budget and get us out of this mess.
Romney is not “likable.” He is a socially awkward business nerd.
I wonder how likable (read “cool) George Washington or Abraham Lincoln were. I guessing—“not very.” Maybe we should go with “competence” and “integrity” over “style” and “coolness.” I think, if we do, we will be safer and stronger.
Romney is a Mormon.
To refuse to vote for Romney simply because he is a Mormon would be an act of religious bigotry. Someone might think that a person’s theology disqualifies them from consideration for the presidency… I don’t. “President” is not “High Priest.”
I have already voted and I can assure you, when I was voting, I did not place my hope in any of the men (and women) on the ballot—and certainly not in politics. My hope is in Jesus Christ. And I long for the day when the government will be upon His shoulders. Until then, I try to be faithful to the government that God has placed over me, especially considering that I have the great privilege (and responsibility) of being a part of it. I know that there are those who have a special hatred for the “Religious Right,” especially the “evil evangelicals,” and they want to cause some kind of theological “dust-up.” I think we have moved beyond that. Although I believe that every person’s hope is ultimately in Jesus Christ, a godly life speaks for itself on both sides of the aisle and across all denominations—even outside of religion. And if it is all just a “big show” (read “all lies”), as skeptics seem to want to believe, then that will be revealed in time. What is done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops… and that makes me tremble… and causes me to think about my own accountability. So now I’m having trouble seeing the computer screen… Please excuse me while I try to dislodge this plank from my eye.