Thursday, August 23, 2007

Romney; Abortion

I think it's fair to say at this point that if Mitt Romney is still trying to define his position on abortion, he doesn't have one.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said this week that as president he would allow individual states to keep abortion legal, two weeks after telling a national television audience that he supports a constitutional amendment to ban the procedure nationwide.

In an interview with a Nevada television station on Tuesday, Romney said Roe. v. Wade should be abolished and vowed to "let states make their own decision in this regard." On Aug. 6, he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he supports a human life amendment to the Constitution that would protect the unborn.

"I do support the Republican platform, and I do support that being part of the Republican platform, and I'm pro-life," Romney said in the ABC interview, broadcast days before his victory among conservative Iowa voters in the Ames straw poll.

The two very different statements reflect the challenge for Romney, who has reinvented himself as a champion of the antiabortion movement in recent years and is seeking to become the conservative alternative to former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination.


In his failed 1994 bid to unseat Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Romney declared: "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country." Later, as governor, he vowed to defend the state law protecting abortion rights.

But in an article he penned in the Boston Globe in 2005, he explained his change of heart and declared himself firmly opposed to abortion.

"I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view," Romney wrote. "But while the nation remains so divided over abortion, I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate."
Romney's position on abortion is literally incomprehensible. Consider what he said to Atlantic blogger Mark Ambinder on the subject.

I interviewed Romney in February, and here's what he told me:

    NJ: You would favor a constitutional amendment banning abortion with exceptions for the life of the woman, rape, and incest. Is that correct?

    Romney: What I've indicated is that I am "pro-life" and that my hope is that the Supreme Court will give to the states over time, or give to the states soon, ... their own ability to make their own decisions with regard to their own abortion law.

    NJ: What if a state wanted unlimited abortion?

    Romney: The state would fall into restrictions that had been imposed at the federal level, so they couldn't be more expansive in abortion than currently exists under the law, but they could become more restrictive in abortion provisions. So states like Massachusetts could stay like they are, if they so desire. And states that have a different view could take that course. And it would be up to the citizens of the individual states. My view is not to impose a single federal rule on the entire nation, a one-size-fits-all approach, but instead allow states to make their own decisions in this regard.
Look at that last paragraph. Romney contradicts himself from one sentence to the next, and back again. On abortion, he is an advocate of state's rights, except in cases where a state might take an expansive view of reproductive liberty, in which case it could not offer more freedom than is allowed under a constitutional amendment which imposes a nationwide ban on abortion. However, the state in question would be free to impose abortion laws more restrictive than the federal standard. In this sense, then, Romney would allow states to make their own decisions about abortion, as long as they decide to become more, rather than less, restrictive.


The theory of giving states the power to answer contested moral questions assumes that state legislators represent and reflect the cultural values of the state's voters more accurately than their Congressional representatives or Senators. Federalism as applied to abortion implies that states are most appropriate laboratory for these experiments.

But after an undetermined period, Romney would yank that power upward and endorse constitutional conventions which would lead to a constitutional ban, effectively overturning the will of the majority of, say, New Yorkers or Oregonians who would permit abortion.

Perhaps he expects our politics to change so profoundly; perhaps he expects an even more polarized abortion debate to benefit the pro-life side; if South Dakota doesn't endorse a complete abortion ban, I'd say that a national abortion ban is probably not politically tenable for the next thirty years or so.

That's thirty more years of abortions.
Romney's stated positions on abortion are literally incompatible with each other. The same is true for gay rights. Unless he is a psychopath, it is impossible for such radically different beliefs on the same subject to exist within the same mind.

More likely, Romney is a garden-variety sociopath - a compulsive and instinctive liar who is oblivious to abstract notions of right and wrong. He recognizes no higher value than his own gratification. He is willing to say anything to persuade people to give him what he wants, which in this case is the presidency of the United States.

There must come a point at which Romney's serial and burlesque flip-flopping causes people to realize that he is completely unfit for the presidency. His complete lack of core principles is like a vaudeville comedy act, a Who's on First routine for the 21st Century. Except in this case, it is not the audience who is laughing with, or even at, the jokester on stage. Romney is the vicious insult comic sneering and snickering at the rubes who paid good money to let him make fun of them. From the cheap seats in back all the way down to the orchestra pit, they think they're in on the joke. What they don't get is that they are the joke.

It's time to drop the curtain.