Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Had a thought while reading the latest scary article about the presidential race in the Times. Apparently, a third of voters believe Romney has become more moderate since becoming the Republican nominee. If so many voters believe that this 65-year-old, experienced politician has significantly changed his political views in the last six months, why are the polls so close—basically even? “Flip-flopper” has long been a damning label in presidential politics. But the difference between Romney and, say, John Kerry is that Romney is an avowed flip-flopper. I think the American public, by and large, see him as a gleeful opportunist, happy to change his tune to suit his audience, from the liberal voters in Massachusetts to the hyper-conservative ones in the Republican primaries to the moderate undecideds who are the prize target now. It’s OK because he’s doing it callously, connivingly. Like a man. Like a good old, Machiavellian leader. Kerry, of course, got the label hung around his neck in spite of his meek protestations. Like a pussy. Americans will respect—maybe even adore—all sorts of equivocation as long as it’s carried off brazenly. With balls.

Fortunately, the Obama strategy has been to take him at his word for saying he was “severely conservative.” As opposed to any politician who might win, that’s a specific politician who can’t win.