Naturally, wanting to save the world in
general and my grandchildren's future in particular, from
another Obama term, I'm paying close attention to the Republican
nomination contest and hoping, literally, for the best. Nearly
as I can tell, the best is Mitt Romney. I don't know him well
personally, but I closely observed him as governor, so perhaps I
can be helpful to Republican primary and caucus voters who also
want to save the world and are determined to choose wisely.
Some of them are unhappy with Romney even as
they are increasingly inclined to support him as the best choice
to defeat Obama. I'll hope to make their decision easier by
calling my analysis "Myths about Mitt," referring to things I've
read and heard from his opponents that don't fit my own
No. 1: He's cold and not very lovable.
While I would replace Barack Obama with the
warm, huggy-bear Bill Clinton right this minute, I generally
prefer people who aren't too gushy. I like presidents with the
friendly, yet dignified, reserve of Ronald Reagan; cool over
warm, rational over emotional.
I also don't need to love my candidate,
though I love Chris Christie, who endorsed Romney.
However, I do like Mitt, and don't understand
why anyone doesn't. Never saw him when he wasn't smiling, except
one time when he had to deal with a deadly accident at the Big
Dig. Never heard rumors about him being verbally abusive to his
staff or anyone else; no one can fake that kind of good nature
for an entire term; it has to be real.
I think we see this easygoing attitude during
the debates, which is why he is perceived as winning them. His
performance also indicates he can be tough if he wants to be,
especially when a comment is directed at Obama.
No. 2: He abandoned us.
I hear this from some of his Massachusetts
supporters, who seem genuinely hurt that he left after four
I don't remember him ever saying he'd run for
a second term; it was all we could do to get him back from Utah
to run for the first one when we realized that acting-governor
Jane Swift couldn't win.
But he stayed for the full four years,
despite having actively supported dozens of Republican
legislative challengers, only to see them all lose to the
irrational Massachusetts tradition of electing mostly Democrats.
Mitt asked the voters to give him some help
with his agenda on Beacon Hill, and the voters said no. Though
the Democrats were even more disinclined to work with someone
who'd run candidates against them, he stayed on; while beginning
his future campaign for the presidency, where he thought he
could make a difference. Unfortunately, as it turned out, he and
the Legislature did get together to pass health insurance
reform, which brings us to ...
No. 3: Romney shoved RomneyCare down our throats.
No, he didn't. There were hearings and forums
all around the state; proposals, compromises, input from
everyone interested, for months. In the end, there was a general
consensus vote on the structure of the new health insurance law,
with an agreement to move forward on cost controls later.
Yeah, I didn't buy that "fix it forward" plan
either; but unlike cynical me, Mitt Romney seemed to really
believe that it would all work out. In fact, the first year, my
business's premium went down. Then the Legislature added yet
another mandate, while not bothering to address costs; and
illegal immigrants still got free care while citizens were
paying unreasonable fines.
But when Mitt didn't run for a second term,
he expected to leave then-Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey in charge of
implementation and continuing reform. Though they'd sometimes
made an exception for governors, voters went with the "vote
Democrat" tradition instead, then made this mistake again in
No. 4: Romney made fun of Massachusetts when he was
running for president.
Well, who of us doesn't? When Massachusetts
activists are at a national conference, we try to make fun of
ourselves before everyone else laughs at us. Many of us have to
explain to family and friends in other states why we live in
what Jon Keller called "The Bluest State" in his 2007 book about
No. 5: Romney has no core convictions; he's a
Mitt has generally stood by his fiscal
convictions, supported tax-cut and tax-limitation ballot
questions, stopped an investment-killing retroactive capital
gains tax, and vetoed some spending.
The flip-flopping on social issues is harder
to defend — unless you recognize that Republican candidates have
to get past the social conservatives who influence the
primaries, without making themselves unattractive to the
independents and young voters who could decide the general
I've had the impression that some fiscal
conservatives don't care deeply about the social issues and kind
of wing it until they can get to the things they do care about,
like defeating communism or creating jobs.
Since, as I said before, I am focused on
saving the world for my grandchildren, I'll support the best
choice to best Obama on the vital fiscal issues.