Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gov. Romney's "conversion" debunked

William Saletan has written a powerful, carefully researched, and at times chilling article detailing the evolutions in former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's public position on reproductive choice.
Romney wants to persuade pro-lifers that the pro-choice position he took in 1994 was based on ignorance. Had he known the reality of abortion firsthand, he would have stood for life. But Romney did know the reality of abortion. He knew it from Sandy Catalano, Carrel Sheldon, and possibly other women he had counseled. And he knew it from Ann Keenan.

Looking at the 1994 and 2007 videos, it’s hard to know which Romney to believe. The transformation they convey is more than a change of mind. It’s a rewriting of emotional experience, or at least what was advertised as emotional experience. Was Romney telling the truth in 1994 when he described how Ann Keenan’s death had shaken his family? Or was he telling the truth in 2007 when he told Tim Russert that abortion was only theoretical to him until he became governor? How can you forget or minimize something you portrayed as so wrenching? How can one man be real unless the other is acting?

That isn’t the only thing Romney blacked out between 1994 and 2007. On June 12, 1994, he and his wife, Ann, attended a Planned Parenthood fundraiser at the home of a Republican activist in Massachusetts. In May 2007, somebody outed the Romneys for having written a $150 check to Planned Parenthood, presumably for attending the event. The check, signed by Ann, was from their joint account. At this point, only the check was public. Reporters hadn’t yet learned about the event. Mitt Romney responded by attributing the check to Ann: "Her contributions are for her and not for me, and her positions I do not think are terribly relevant to my campaign." ...Six months later, a photo of Mitt at the event turned up. Did he not remember being there? Or was it just easier to pin the check on his wife and hope nobody found out more?

Nothing in Romney’s evolving autobiography is more misleading than his claim that he never called himself pro-choice...

...He’s also a gifted salesman. He learns your language and puts you at ease. He gives you the version of his record, position, or motive that will please you most. When he comes down on your side, it’s intentional. When he doesn’t, it’s inadvertent. He focuses not on communicating his beliefs but on formulating, framing, or withholding them for political effect. He tells moving stories of personal experience to show you his sincerity. Then, if necessary, he erases those stories from his playbook and his memory.

...Romney will always be what he needs to be. Count on it.