Recently, a friend asked me why I supported President Obama and not Mitt Romney. My response to him was that I didn’t really know Mitt Romney. I mean really, who is Mitt Romney? Is he the right man to run the country, based upon his “severely” conservative roots and skilled business acumen? Or is he merely a man born into great privilege that has made the most out of his opportunities?
Like most things in politics, the answer may well lie somewhere in the middle. But we’ll never know because Governor Romney’s strategy from day one has been to run for President as the anti-Obama, all the while embracing pie-in-the-sky conservative orthodoxy. While this strategy is cynical, it is no less an effective path to victory in November, than campaigning on his career achievements (Founder of Bain Capital & Governor of Massachusetts).
Indeed, Romney has been quite adept at shoring up his bona fides as sycophant-in-chief to the right wing. For instance, Romney has embraced Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget proposal with open arms. Ryan’s plan includes a proposal to radically alter the manner in which senior citizens pay for health care services, all the while more than doubling the financial burden for seniors. Some might balk at this charge, claiming that such measures are necessary to set the country on a sustainable fiscal path. But according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, Ryan’s plan doesn’t even balance the budget until 2030. It is unclear to me how such lackluster outcomes justify the plan’s draconian measures.
Romney’s own economic plan is no better. Central to his vision for the future, is an across-the-board 20% cut on marginal tax rates, which some estimate would increase the deficit by $360 billion in 2015 alone. Unsurprisingly, these tax cuts would disproportionately benefit the higher income earners, at the expense of middle and lower income brackets. Romney claims that the decrease in tax revenues would be offset by “eliminating loopholes” elsewhere in the tax code. You’re probably asking yourself which loopholes? Who knows? The silence from Romney on this question is deafening.
What all of this says to me is that Romney is an opportunist. But wait. What is that you say? Aren’t all politicians opportunists? Sure. Even the President has his moments (can you say “Buffet Rule”?). Still, very few do it as shamelessly as Romney.
But before I completely eviscerate Romney’s political skills, I must be fair and point out one obvious fact: he has no choice. If Romney is to have any chance at winning in November, he must pander. He definitely can’t run on his record as a businessman or politician. What Romney will do is run faster than Usain Bolt from just about all of the things that have defined his life thus far. To do otherwise would be to bring attention to all of his perceived political liabilities: his faith (he’s Mormon), his success as a businessman (he’s greedy, rich, and detached), and his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts (he was the architect of Obamneycare).