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.My Comments:
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.
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.