Thursday, January 17, 2008

InsideCatholic: "Why Mitt Romney Is the Best Choice for Catholic Conservatives"

Todd M. Aglialoro has a piece at InsideCatholic supporting Mitt Romney:
... With Romney's victory in the Michigan primary, the GOP candidate field is once more level. Faced with more viable candidates this late in the season than anyone can seem to remember, conservative Catholic voters in upcoming primaries have a choice that goes beyond "hop on the frontrunner's bandwagon" or "lodge a protest vote." After my own reflection, I want to make a case that Mitt Romney should be that choice.

A few qualifications are in order at the outset. First, I'm taking it as a premise that electability counts. I think Mitt Romney is the Catholic conservative's best choice for president -- not for sending a message to the media or GOP, laying the groundwork for future campaigns, or racking up a new high score on some Catholic blogger's candidate compatibility quiz. Protest votes are noble, and I've made them myself, but right now I'm talking pragmatism, not perfection.

Second, Romney's wealth and his religion do not count. Virtually all the candidates could buy or sell me many times over; even if I were looking for an authentic class warrior (I'm not, though many Catholics are), among the electable choices there just ain't one. And Mormonism's bizarre doctrines and wormlike infiltration of third-world Catholic cultures notwithstanding, we Catholics must remember that we're voting for a president, not a National Elder. Besides, Mormonism may be a corrupted religion that fails the strict test of Chalcedon, but it's a corruption of familiar American Christianity. Its adherents look to the same distant religious and moral foundations -- if through a thick haze -- that we do.

Finally, I am speaking as a political conservative to political conservatives. I don't pretend to make a case to Catholics of a statist bent, to those who -- whether or not they think their faith requires it -- shade to the left on welfare policy, immigration, national defense, or taxation, or to those who seek solutions to the nation's ills primarily in coercion by the political class rather than meritorious private enterprise. Their best choice is someone else.

Romney's strongest critics from the right, of course -- especially the social right -- would counter that precisely what can't be trusted is his belief in certain "conservative ideas and values." It is undeniable (and thanks to opposition campaign researchers and YouTube, unavoidable) that even just a few years ago, Romney was making clear statements in favor of "a woman's right to choose," criticizing the Boy Scouts for banning homosexual leaders, and supporting civil union-like benefits for gay partners. Then, after an epiphany that allegedly occurred while he was studying embryonic stem cell research (in 2005 he would veto an ESCR funding bill, not long before John McCain reversed his own position and voted in favor of one), his social positions took a hard turn to the right. On the campaign trail today he speaks freely of overturning Roe v. Wade and passing the Federal Marriage Amendment. His website names the conspicuously worded goal of "promoting a culture of life."

For this shift, detractors from both ends of the spectrum call him a phony and an opportunist. I find it dismaying, though, that in branding Romney unclean for not having been a lifetime pro-life purist, some social conservatives are joining the "flip-flopper" chorus that the liberal media have been incessantly chanting about him. What bothers the media is not that he changed his positions (though he only changed them once, technically making him not a flip-flopper but merely a "flipper"), but that his positions became more conservative. That's why we're still waiting for similar derision to be cast upon formerly pro-life Democrats who, to one extent or another, sacrificed conviction for upward mobility in the party of abortion -- a list that includes Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, Harry Reid, and Bob Casey Jr.

Liberals revile Romney for moving to the right. And instead of welcoming him, some conservatives knock him for not moving soon or far enough.

My Comments:
On what basis - i.e. "record" - does one make such claims on behalf of candidate Romney? On what basis - i.e. "record" - am I to confidently cast my vote for such a person?

Throughout his opportunistic political career, Mitt Romney has managed to be all things to all people - to take whatever position on an issue was necessary to convince the voters he was their man. Whether it was running against Teddy Kennedy for the U.S. Senate, running for and then governing as Governor of Massachusetts, or now, when running for President of the United States, Mitt Romney has a proven track record of saying whatever he needs to say and holding whatever beliefs he needs to hold in order to appeal to the voters. Nowhere has this proven more true than on the important (I would even go so far as to say "non-negotiable") issue of abortion.

And when you look at the man's actual record in elected office, he governed center-left. Whether the issue was abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, same-sex "marriage", government spending, whatever - in his one stint in public office, Mitt Romney did not even come close to governing as a conservative, much less a social conservative.

The other day, Regular Guy Paul made the following astute comment at my post regarding Sam Brownback's endorsement of John McCain and my reluctance to support McCain because of my lack of trust in him following his decidedly unconservative actions over the past 8 years:
And I haven't heard Brownback making any arguments as to why we should trust McCain, beyond, "you should trust McCain, because I trust McCain."
Indeed. And the same applies to Mitt Romney. Basically, what we're getting is a lot of big names in the conservative pundit class - whether it's Hugh Hewitt, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, or the Editorial Board of National Review) telling us we should trust Romney (and them) and vote for him because he's "electable" and really more conservative than his record would indicate. "Just trust us on this." Again, I ask, on what basis?

If Governor Romney's conversion to conservatism - and more especially to holding socially conservative values on issues such as abortion, ESCR, and same-sex "marriage" - is legitimate and authentic, then I welcome him and congratulate him.

I also encourage him to take a few years to let his newfound conservatism sink in, and then make another run for the Massachusetts statehouse. If he can prove that he can govern as a conservative in a more "entry-level" position than leader of the free world, then maybe I'll have a little more faith in him when it comes to handing over the keys to the White House.

Isn't Mitt Romney basically the Republican version of John Kerry? They're both shallow Massachusetts pretty boys with nice hair, lots of money, a patrician background, a liberal record, and a penchant for flip-flopping on the issues.

Of course, Mitt can't claim to have served in Vietnam [by the way, did you know that John Kerry was in Vietnam?], but he can say that his sons are "serving their country" by working on his campaign.

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At 1/17/2008 4:44 PM, Anonymous paul zummo said...

Isn't Mitt Romney basically the Republican version of John Kerry?


At 1/17/2008 5:12 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...


That part of the post you quote was a tongue-in-cheek afterthought, although I believe there are clearly some humorous parallels and therefore an element of truth in what I wrote.

Do you care to elaborate or to comment on the rest of what I wrote?

At any rate, I can't see myself voting for Mitt Romney. All indications are that he's not even as conservative as G.W. Bush. Ann Coulter, in endorsing Romney in her most recent column, claimed that he would, at worst, be a "moderate".

Ooooh, I can hardly wait to pull the lever on election day on the basis of that rousing endorsement.


At 1/17/2008 6:28 PM, Anonymous paul zummo said...

While I am completely sympathetic to the hesitation that you feel, I just don't share the antipathy to Romney, at least not now. Romney was not quite the leftist that people make him out to be. His change of heart on certain issues mostly deal with social issues, for he was very much an economic and foreign policy conservative when he ran for the Senate in 1994 and then governor in 2002.

As for those social issues, I can only take him at his word. I choose to believe him, and you seem to choose not to completely trust him. Since he is only my second choice, I'm not really interested in changing your mind. Again, I completely understand where you're coming from, and I thought a lot about this before coming to the conclusion that Romney is who he says he is.

In the end, he's probably not going to be the greatest champion of social causes, but in many respects that's not necessarily what we need. He will not thwart the pro-life movement, certainly not in the same way Rudy would. I have little doubt - as I do with all of the other candidates other than Fred - that he would appoint qualified originalists to the bench.

I get the sense that mine is a minority view in the Catholic blog world, but to me, Romney is the second best (third best if we're including Duncan Hunter - I still remember him Regular Guy) candidate the GOP has to offer.

That said, it would be so much nicer if we nominate the guy who not only says the right things on ALL of the issues, but he has the record to back it up.

At 1/17/2008 7:40 PM, Anonymous Musemonk said...

Dear Fellow Catholics,
I welcome you with all my heart and dould to dig really deep and look up the extremely principled and consitent record of John McCain, his interviews, speeches, and voting record. He believes, ever since the Naval Academy, that our ountry depends on complete honesty. The Eisenhower Institute in 2005 bestowed on McCain the Eisenhower Prize for Integrity and Leadership. "On the Issues" website can be checked, in which case Mr McCain was given an almost 88% conservative voting mark. His Pro-Life support goes back 24 years. Last, but not least, in a month in which we were told that there are islamofascists in the very Pakistani Military and Intelligence Service and when they could get their hands on a nuke, I believe it is imcumbent upon all Americans, especially Catholics, to discover why 400 generals and admirals, and several former secretaries of state and national security advisors, are supporting and invite us to also support the one man who can step in and manage a global strategic crisis - John McCain. Common on board!

At 1/17/2008 11:20 PM, Blogger Jeff Miller said...


You can't be pro-life and support ESCR. You would be pro-life with a major caveat that shows you don't really believe life begins at conception.

As for Romney. I just can't get excited about him. Even after his multiple conversions he was quite weak on these issues and capitulated. He signed his health care bill which included a $50 dollar co-payment for abortion and he did not line item veto this provision, though he did several others. Plus he still supports ESCR using frozen embryos. As a Governor he was very good at making compromises with Democrats instead of fighting and taking a stand.

Deal Hudson has some great questions for Mitt.

I remember though that people had serious reservations about George W. Bush pro-life convictions and he has turned out to be surprisingly strong in his pro-life voting record and after one judicial mistake that was corrected surely picked good judges.

Though when it comes to the supreme court it is hard to have to gamble on a presidential nominee instead of really being able to trust them in this.

At 1/22/2008 1:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mitt Romney has flip flopped more times than John Kerry! He is the most dishonest Republican candidate and makes Kerry look like a man of principle. Visit to learn more about Romney's horrible record.


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