How Romney’s Hypocrisy Helps Him

Via Sullivan, Jon Stewart’s take-down of multiple-choice Mitt is as good a short summary of the GOP’s front-running chameleon.  But I can’t help but think that Romney’s transparent hypocrisy would help him in a general election campaign.  Democrats should avoid making it the center of their 2012 anti-Romney strategy.

First, it would detract from any substantive attack on the GOP agenda: attack on his lack of core beliefs would obscure the fact that we elect parties, not individuals, and a Romey Administration will essentially enshrine the Tea Party in the executive branch.

Second, voters think that all politicians are hypocrites: the question is which hypocrite they want.  So attacks on Romney’s lack of sincerity won’t do much damage anyway.

Third, and perhaps most important, when it comes to the wingnut Republican base, Romney’s whole general election strategy will be one huge wink: don’t worry, guys, you know I’ve got to say this, but I don’t really believe it.  Attacking Romney for hypocrisy thus will this reinforce his attempt to move to the center.

At the end of the day, a President Romney will essentially be George W. Bush redux.  Hypocrisy doesn’t enter into it.  If you loved what George W. Bush did to the country, you’ll adore the Romney Administration.  That’s the message, which will not only be politically more effective in my view, but does carry the additional merit of being true.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

3 thoughts on “How Romney’s Hypocrisy Helps Him”

  1. Absolutely. Maybe Romney, given his druthers, would rather be a Jimmy Carter/Bill Clinton/Barack Obama conservative Democrat. But his backers won’t let him be. So his secret preferences–whatever they may be–are irrelevant.

  2. what does it really mean to be a republican currently? we spent much of 2009 trying to shame them by association with rush limbaugh and they embraced him all the harder. we spent 2010 trying to tie them to the tea party and all their insanity and illogic and they embraced them all the more. at this moment being a republican seems to mean standing for nothing more or less than the ownership of the levers of power and anything which gets in the way of that is dross and anything that greases the wheels is gold.

    so, yes, playing up the hypocrisy of the romney is futile insofar as it does nothing to hurt their cause. i think the best strategy would be to stress and embrace every position he formerly took which aligns with the democratic position without reference to any changes in position for convenience.

  3. So attacks on Romney’s lack of sincerity won’t do much damage anyway.

    After wrapping up the nomination, one can actually anticipate Romney boasting to Blitzer that “yes, he sells different voters different things”. And then explaining with a cool smile that “politics is business and you do what you have to do to make a sale”. The man is pathologically shameless. He will say whatever it takes to win the next 15 minutes. And then its opposite to win the next 15. He could sell a tranche of ashes to the devil; in fact, I bet he’s got a knockout speil involving his collateralized soul just for that. Romney makes the silver-tongued Obama look like a third-class bullshitter…

    And here is the kicker: Romney is betting that disgusted Americans will respect him for his ruthlessness with truthiness:
    “Hmmm. Maybe a hard-boiled business man liar can get-er done. What’s to lose? Can’t get any worse. The fugging country stinks on ice. I’m voting for Romney. He’s comfortable in his chameleon skin.”

    Who ought there among you, would dare sell him short?

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