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The Two Mitts

Posted on Apr 17, 2012
Photos by Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-SA)

By Eugene Robinson

It’s all over but the shouting, or, in this case, the polite applause: Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican presidential nominee. But which Mitt Romney? Will it be Mitt One or Mitt Two?

This is not an inconsequential question. Mitt One is a fiscally conservative, socially moderate, Wall Street-style Republican who believes in compromise to get things done. Mitt Two is a far-right zealot who accuses Democrats of trying to impose godless socialism and claims that what hangs in the balance this fall is nothing less than liberty itself.

We’ve seen a lot of Mitt Two during the primary campaign. Competing against Rick Santorum, a genuine far-right zealot, and Newt Gingrich, a master of rhetorical excess, Romney strove mightily to convince the GOP’s activist base that he could be every bit as doctrinaire as his opponents.

On some issues, he outflanked the far right, which, in today’s Republican Party, is saying something. So his position on illegal immigration, for example, is that those living in this country without documentation must pick up and leave—“self-deportation” is the term coined by Mitt Two—and should not be given “a special pathway” to citizenship.

But as recently as 2006, Mitt One supported allowing at least some undocumented immigrants to remain in the country and begin “a process of registering for a citizenship, applying for citizenship.” A year earlier, he described as “reasonable” a comprehensive immigration reform package proposed by Sens. John McCain and Ted Kennedy that included a form of amnesty.


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With his hard-line rhetoric on immigration, Mitt Two drove away scads of Latino voters. Will Mitt One try to woo them back?

Similarly, on health care reform, Mitt Two vows to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and denounces the individual health insurance mandate at the core of the legislation. As most Americans know, however, it was Mitt One who pioneered the individual mandate when he was governor of Massachusetts.

Polls show that while voters do not like “Obamacare,” they love some of the law’s consumer-friendly provisions. Will we hear more of Mitt Two’s absolute rejection of the president’s reforms, or will Mitt One begin to hedge his bets?

Similarly, Mitt One accepted the scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to climate change—and made Massachusetts the first state to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But Mitt Two has a very different opinion: “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” he has said, “and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”

It would take a lot of hemming and hawing for Romney to revert to his original stance. But since Mitt One is basically a data-driven problem-solver, and since the available data strongly indicate that human activity is indeed warming the atmosphere, there must be conflict and consternation beneath that perfect Romney coif.

On some issues, Mitt Two has been so definitive that Mitt One has no conceivable way to reassert himself. Mitt One, as governor, respected Roe v. Wade as the law of the land and declined to pursue initiatives that could restrict a woman’s right to abortion. Mitt Two supports the reversal of Roe v. Wade, calling it “bad law and bad medicine,” and describes himself as irreversibly anti-abortion. It is pretty much an ironclad rule that a politician may change his mind once on abortion, but not twice.

Mitt One was not associated with any particular school of thought on foreign policy. Mitt Two bristles with tougher-than-thou rhetoric that plays well with the Republican base but likely will frighten independent voters. Will Mitt One re-emerge and realize that accusing the president who killed Osama bin Laden of being some kind of wuss is not likely to be a winning strategy?

It’s going to be fascinating to watch as more of these internal conflicts come to light. Last week, the Mitt One campaign jumped all over remarks by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen suggesting that stay-at-home mothers don’t really work. But MSNBC’s Chris Hayes unearthed a video clip in which Mitt Two boasted of his initiatives in Massachusetts to compel mothers who received public assistance to hold employment outside the home, where they could benefit from the “dignity of work.”

The presidential debates shouldn’t be much of a chore for Obama this fall. He can just stand by while Romney argues with himself.

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)
© 2012, Washington Post Writers Group

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BR549's avatar

By BR549, April 19, 2012 at 6:48 am Link to this comment

It’s just like Obama; will we get the one that promised transparency, an end to the wars, honest government, and support of the US Constitution?

....... or do we continue with the erosion of civil rights, entering even more countries illegally, and endless efforts to violate American civilians with LRADs, ASDs, far too many foreign troops stationed on US soil, and detention camps nearing the 1,000 mark?

It’s a tennis match, where the American public is forced to watch the president and the Congress volley with an invisible tennis ball, leaving everyone wondering who really was responsible for the latest erosion of our civil rights. Then there is the lame Supreme Court, which points fingers at each other trying to figure out whose turn it is to take the heat as we, including them and their grandchildren, go further into the collective crapper.

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, April 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

The CEO Mitt is Romney’s biggest problem.  CEO’s can
say the stupidest shit to their employees and no one
comes up afterwards and tells them, “hey dude, that
was some stupid shit.” 

Likewise they can do stupid shit and still receive
bonuses and promotions. 

Doesn’t work that way in a presidential campaign. 
Sadly, oddly, or humorously depending on how you look
at it Romney is like a dog at the vet who’s about to
get a tube stuck up his business end yet has no clue
what’s coming. He smiles and wags his tail. 

He says stupid shit on the campaign trail and smiles
and wags his tail.  The problem is after working for
a while at the highest levels of corporate America,
Romney lost his bullshit detector. No one ever told
him he was full of shit.  He said stupid shit and
everyone laughed at his stupid jokes and agreed with
his stupid ideas. He expects it now.  He’s not
getting it. But he expects it.

Don’t underestimate Romney, however. The world has
its panties in a wad at the moment. The right
sequence of events, the right nutjob as VP could put
Romney in The White House. 

Nonetheless, it seems Maynard Keenan of Tool
predicted Romney’s ascent many, many years ago. He
couldn’t have been thinking of anything else when
he penned these immortal words:

And some say the end is near.
Some say we’ll see Armageddon soon.
I certainly hope we will.
I sure could use a vacation from this,
Stupid shit.
Silly shit.
Stupid shit.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment

As the left right choreographed theatrics lumber along, it would be smart to step back and smell the greased palms and know who is doing the greasing.  Anyone who says Obama is conservative may be judging others from themselves.  The real far out left finds just about anyone conservative just as the far right Tea Baggers find anyone other then themselves liberal.

Obama has been called everything under the sun from a pinko, commie to a Nazi, if I recall mostly from the right?  Now we have alleged lefties calling Obama right wing Republican?  No he is not a right wing Republican, he just happens to be right of you!

March 12 poll

“Rasmussen has two polls out today, but neither have anything to do with Alabama or Mississippi.  In surveys conducted last week and released today, 59% of likely voters nationwide consider Barack Obama more liberal than themselves — and only 37% identify more closely with Obama than with his Republican rivals.  Let’s start with ideology:”

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, April 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm Link to this comment

The far left would see Obama as a moderate Republican from their
actually over the left edge vantage point, but Obama is a centrist
Liberal and that is something radical progressives cannot fathom and
cannot see is different from Republicans.  That is too bad because that
is the choice there is.  An As the Wind Blows Conservative who will follow
the Tea Party bosses in Congress or a Centrist Liberal Democrat who will
at least get some social issues legislated.  So the far left might just sit
this one out.  The rest of America who will vote will do the job.

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, April 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm Link to this comment

Marian G, re: your the choice for November:

Better vote Romney or Obama if you’re in a swing state.
We disagree:
There is enough difference between Obama & Romney to matter.

For those who feel the way you do, vote for an alternative candidate if you live in a “safe” state.

Very unlikely the election or a state will be won or lost over a 3rd party spoiler, a la’ 2000.
But if enough voters pull the lever for others (and this goes for both the Left and Right), the sum could deny the Presidential winner a “majority mandate.”

You could claim victory in that and build for later
2014 mid-terms, 2016).

History has been against 3rd Party or Independent candidates, but they do win on occasion.

I still think Perot would won in ‘92 if he had really wanted to.

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By Marian Griffith, April 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And this is the ‘choice’ Americans get in november.
On the one side there is Obama who is a moderate republican because that is the only democrat the majority of the Americans will vote for.
On the other side there is Romney who at best is Obama2, and at the other extreme combines and exceeds the worst of the lunatic reactionary fringe candidates. It is everybody’s guess which Romney would sit in the White House.

And the system is set up to disfranchise independant candidates so voting for one of those is not going to solve anything (at least not until they can get a solid national organisation off the ground, which will take decades at least. Or until the voter show up percentage approaches the approval rate of Congress and even the most diehard pundit can not longer pretend nothing is wrong with the system).

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By felicity, April 17, 2012 at 10:22 am Link to this comment

The man does have an amazing talent for stepping on his
own lines - same day, next day, years ago.  All Obama
has to do is wait a while for Mitt to discredit
himself.  Should be one of the more interesting
campaigns of late.

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, April 17, 2012 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

“Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican presidential nominee.”

Man, Eugene, did you arrive late to the party or what?!

Most of the rest of us had that figured since Perry fell off the edge.

Looking ahead:
Watch for Mitt to tack to the center once the convention is over. 
Think Nixon 1968.

He may pick a true conservative VP to appease the Tea Party & right base.  Marco Rubio would make a great choice for him.

Will Romney win in November? 
Unlikely, but his best chance is keeping focus on the Economy.—_and_how_to_beat_him

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, April 17, 2012 at 9:32 am Link to this comment

“Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican presidential nominee.”

Man, Eugene, did you arrive late to the party or what?!

Most of the rest of us had that figured since Perry fell off the edge.

Looking ahead:
Watch for Mitt to tack to the center once the convention is over. 
Think Nixon 1968.

He may pick a true conservative VP to appease the Tea Party & right base.  Marco Rubio would make a great choice for him.

Will Romney win in November? 
Unlikely, but his best chance is keeping focus on the Economy.—_and_how_to_beat_him

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By it's only Scott, April 17, 2012 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

Wish I could get hundreds of millions of bucks in contributions just by going anywhere, anytime specifically telling specific people specifically what they want to hear and already believe.

Vote for Doppelganger - He’s Just Like You!

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By Jeff N., April 17, 2012 at 6:34 am Link to this comment

Wish I could rehash the same pointless article every week and get paid for it like Mr. Robinson.

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