February 1, 2008


Romney's Convictions (Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2008)

Washington's problem isn't a lack of data, or a failure to calibrate the incentives as in the business world. Congress and the multiple layers of government respond exactly as you'd expect given the incentives for self-preservation and turf protection that always exist in political institutions. The only way to overcome them is with leadership on behalf of good ideas backed by public support. The fact that someone as bright as Mr. Romney doesn't recognize this Beltway reality risks a Presidency that would get rolled quicker than you can say Jimmy Carter.

All the more so because we haven't been able to discern from his campaign, or his record in Massachusetts, what his core political principles are. Mr. Romney spent his life as a moderate Republican, and he governed the Bay State that way after his election in 2002. While running this year, however, he has reinvented himself as a conservative from radio talk show-casting, especially on immigration.

The problem is not that Mr. Romney is willing to reconsider his former thinking. Nor is it so much that his apparent convictions always seem in sync with the audience to which he is speaking at the moment. (Think $20 billion in corporate welfare for Michigan auto makers.) Plenty of politicians attune their positions to new constituencies. The larger danger is that Mr. Romney's conversions are not motivated by expediency or mere pandering but may represent his real governing philosophy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 1, 2008 9:36 PM

One more thought on the Businessman Extraordinaire narrative: government is not a business ... the objective functions are quite different ... and cannot be successfully managed like a business. (See McNamara, Robert S.)

Posted by: ghostcat at February 1, 2008 11:46 PM

In the old days I would have avoided phrasing this question so baldly and inartfully, but the question for Romney is that one would put put to a witness who has changed his story: "Were you lying then or are you lying now?"

Elder Romney (or whatever the Mormon word for "Effendi," as in, "Effendi Obama," might be)isn't running for governor on the Peoples' Republic of Masachusetts any more. Romney pretending to be a gun-grabbing baby-killer would not get his party one single vote in November. Witches, queers, poltroons, folk-enemies and culture-traitors are not going to vote Republican under any circumstances.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 2, 2008 6:56 AM