We’ve been – to say the least -dubious of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s “conversion” to the pro-life position. We’ve also reported – we think fairly – that his “conversion” has been a constantly evolving thing.
First, he said that he was privately pro-life for some time, then it shifted a bit to early in his time as governor. Then less than ten days ago, a Weekly Standard article reported that Romney had been pro-abortion and anti-life just five years ago in 2002. Romney and his supporters have pointed out that his “conversion” to the pro-life cause was no different than Ronald Reagan (a man Romney once publicly ran away from politically for fear of being tarnished a “Reagan Republican”; he preferred identifiying himself as an “independent”), who signed the nation’s then-most liberal abortion bill as governor of California.
Well, Romney really can say that he has similarities to Govenor Ronald Reagan, because this supposed “pro-life” Republican governor, who claimed to convert to the pro-life cause – when was it? 2002? 2003? – signed into law last year – 2006 – a state health-care reform program that includes taxpayer-funded abortions. You can read about what the Massachusett’s Commonwealth Care health insurance plan provides here; it includes abortion services.
Romney has been attempting to distance himself from this health care reform plan, not because of the abortions, but because of the long term costs. He joked about it at the National Review Institute conservative conference last weekend.
Romney clearly made a decision that it was important that he run his presidential campaign to the right of Sen. John McCain, with a message that he would be more reliable than McCain when it came to important issues for social conservatives. Why he did this is beyond us, particularly with so much now on the record that he is no better on many issues than another California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Had he run as a moderate, he might have been better off.
Ronald Reagan gave the pro-life cause a boost at a time when it desperately needed one. He surrounded himself with authentic pro-life leaders and made pro-life political appointments. To be fair, looking back, today’s pro-life leaders look at the Reagan years and see wasted opportunities, and points in his administration when Reagan and his people could have done better.
The problem Romney has now is that after eight years of Reagan, and what will be twelve years of Bushes, the pro-life movement has grown weary of unkept promises, half-loaves and missed opportunities. This President Bush has been good on the life issues. He could have been better. Romney has essentially told voters to believe what he says and look at his record on life issues. That he will be more reliable than McCain or Giuliani or Brownback. Sorry, if we appear dubious. Sometimes Romney’s words are good, sometimes his actions are okay, but most often, where the words and actions meet on life issues, he disappoints. It will be interesting to see how folks for shill for Romney react to this latest pro-life letdown. It can’t be explained away.