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Politics // Mostly Politics
Dan Boylan

Hoping Romney Flips To The Center

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney. AP photo

In their March 13 caucuses, Hawaii’s Republicans opted for Mitt Romney as their candidate for President. Since then, Romney’s taken some hits: a loss to Rick Santorum in the Louisiana Republican primary and an elevation in his national unfavorable rating to 53 percent in a Washington Post/ABC poll.

Some of that added national scorn may have resulted from an ill-advised comment of longtime Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom. Said Fehrnstrom in response to a question about how far-right positions Romney has taken during the primaries would appeal to independent voters in the general election: “I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”

In other words, you flipflop. That’s been the charge made against Romney by Rick Santorum and every other right-wing Republican ideologue Romney’s faced in the 20 debates of this oh-so-long Republican primary season. Fehrnstrom simply added the credibility of an insider, and the evocative image of a well-known children’s toy, to the charge.

Of course others have called Romney worse. Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has called the Republican front-runner “a liar.” He’s done so more than once, usually in regard to some factually baseless criticism Romney has made of President Barack Obama’s economic policies.

Flip-flopper or not, liar or not, I still think Hawaii’s Republicans made the right choice in sending a majority of their delegates to the Tampa convention committed to Romney. Why? Because Romney may very well become the next President of the United States.

As I write, he’s running behind Obama in national polls and in at least three of the key swing states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. But what if, in June, the five radically conservative justices who make up the United States Supreme Court declare Obamacare unconstitutional? Remember, this little group of originalists have played politics before: Bush v. Gore, it was called, and it gave the presidency to a man who had not won the popular vote and may not have won the electoral. The nation, in turn, got two wars, neither of which we’ve completely shed, and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

And what if the price of gasoline reaches $5 per gallon in mid-August’s vacation traffic?

Then let’s say the nation’s unemployment rate changes direction and rises above 9 percent in September and stays there through Nov. 6?

If all this comes to pass and Romney becomes President of the United States, I want him to flip and flop his way back to the moderate Republicanism with which he governed Massachusetts.

I want him to reexamine his renunciation of Massachusetts’s Romneycare as a solution to the nation’s broken health-care system. As a governor, Romney recognized that the self-congratulation we Americans heap upon ourselves makes no sense when, as the world’s richest nation, we leave 41 million of our citizens without health care coverage. Romneycare resulted in 98 percent coverage of Bay State residents, including all children.

I want him to relearn the math he obviously understood as a successful businessman. In order to win the support of Tea Party nation and the Republican Party that Grover Norquist built, Romney has spent primary season arguing that cutting entitlements was the only way to solve the country’s budget problems. He knows better than that. Of course we need entitlement reform, but we need more revenue as well.

Let’s hear it for a flipflopping Mitt Romney. I’ll even grant him a lie or two- as long as they’re not used to invade another country.

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