Self-Cancelling Romney

Mitt Romney has covered his tracks so many times in this campaign that he’s left  no footprints in the sand whatsoever. Nobody knows how he will govern, what policies he will pursue, or even what he might say tomorrow. He may be the first entirely self-cancelling Presidential candidate. His demagoguery has turned into a case of self-erasure.

The self-cancellation goes beyond mere flip-flopping, hedging  or prevaricating, into the realm of Alice-In-Wonderland absurdity. For example, his “$5 billion tax cut” plan is said to be “revenue neutral,” but this benign-sounding “neutrality” relies on a complex two step: cut taxes 20 percent across the board (on top of renewing the 35% Bush tax cuts for the top 1 percent), but then “neutralize” those tax cuts by eliminating certain (unspecified) deductions and loopholes. When pressed as to the details of these proposed deduction and loophole eliminations , Romney says “take any number you like–say 15%” (or “say 20%”). He really seems to just be making this stuff up as he goes along. Take any position you want.

What he hasn’t explained is why bother with any of this at all if it is “revenue neutral?” What will be gained in the process? Again, when pressed, he offers yet another shimmering chimera that melts away upon further inspection: good old “job-creation.” He of course never bothers to go much into cause and effect, nor explains why old-school Keynesian stimulus won’t be a much easier way to create jobs.

The same process of self-cancellation occurs in his ever-shifting foreign policy positions. Pivoting from bellicosity to peace and reconciliation makes him sound like he agrees with all of Obama’s foreign policies. Again, why bother to change if the change won’t amount to any real difference? Running as an “severe conservative” for two years, and then suddenly, seeing the campaign slip away, Romney abandoned the hard-edged right and started talking up the role of government, the importance of bi-partisanship, the need to compromise in foreign policy, etc.  But–as all abusive personalities realize, too late–menace trumps reconciliation emotionally. The threat lingers on, not mitigated by empty words of apology or placation.The Afghans, Russians, Syrians, Palestinians and Iranians will no doubt lose sleep starting Nov. 7 if Mitt is elected because they have no idea where he’ll come down on questions of hard-edged, confrontational American force vs. American “soft” persuasion. He’s either irrational, diabolic or confused, but which is it? His contradictory policy statements disappear into  a black hole of self-abnegation as he veers from reckless to feckless.

And then there’s everything else:
  • He was for ObamaCare before he was against it. But then he’s sort of for parts of it again.
  • He was all for voucherizing and privatizing (and thus effectively ending) Medicare, but now he’s sort of for keeping part of it, for now.
  • He was all for eliminating FEMA by turning it over to the states or privatizing it, but now he sees FEMA as a legitimate government function.
  • He was against Roe v. Wade but now says he has no plans to end it.
And so on, ad infinitum. There is seemingly no public issue of consequence that he doesn’t have two or three positions on. Mitt’s like one of those impossible natural wonders, like a gravity-defying house or a “cave of wonder.” He is a walking void, to be avoided.
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