Shawn, I appreciate your response, and it’s good to see somebody sticking up for Romney for a change! You’re right that Romney’s explanation of his abortion views is more complicated than I went into in my prior post, but sometimes blog posts are lengthy and nuanced, and other times they just try to make a quick point, and my post fit into the latter category. I figured we’d spent so much time dissecting the abortion views of Romney and Thompson on this blog, that I didn’t need to reiterate all the details. The point I was trying to make was a purely political one, that in today’s sound bite culture, Thompson’s explaining that abortion “means more” to him now because “I have seen the sonograms of my babies,” is probably going to be more compelling to the average voter than Romney’s explanation that the seeds of his conversion were planted in his meeting with a Harvard researcher. Thompson’s is a simple, straightforward answer, and seeing your babies’ sonograms is a very personal event that people can relate to on emotional level. Romney’s statements, I believe, come off more cerebral in comparison. (Incidentally, when Romney was pro-choice he used to explain his position in personal terms–citing a close family friend who died from an illegal abortion, and his mother running for U.S. Senate as a pro-choicer in 1970.)
As to Shawn’s broader question, “aren’t flip flops precisely what those of us who advocate certain political, economic or social philosophies are seeking?” Certainly people who advocate particular policies want others to come around to their way of thinking, but, as I have argued recently, when it comes to choosing a president, there should be more to it than simply picking a person who currently agrees with you on the largest number of issues. For me, Sept. 11 not only changed my perception of what issues were most important, but also taught me how crucial it was to have a strong leader in a time of crisis. One of the main attributes of a strong leader, to me, is the ability to stick with one’s beliefs through popular and unpopular times. So, if somebody has a tendency to flip flop for the sake of political expediency, it makes me fear that they don’t have the stuff to be a strong leader when times are tough, opinion polls are down, and the media is on the attack.
As this all relates to Romney, if it were just abortion he had a change of heart on, it would be one thing. I think the abortion issue is a very complex one that many Americans continuously wrestle with. But for Romney, his reversal on abortion is just one of a series of changes he has undergone to dramatically transform himself in a very short time to fill a conservative vacuum in this particular election cycle.
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