Romney: I Can’t Be Specific, People Won’t Agree

One of the fascinating things about Mitt Romney is how he seems to have taken what we all knew was true about politicians and doubled down on them and made them more obvious. All politicians pander, but Mitt takes it to a whole new level. And all politicians avoid getting too specific because they want some wiggle room and they don’t want to piss people off too much. But Mitt just comes right out and says it:

“One of the things I found in a short campaign against Ted Kennedy was that when I said, for instance, that I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, that was used to suggest I don’t care about education,” Romney recalled. “So I think it’s important for me to point out that I anticipate that there will be departments and agencies that will either be eliminated or combined with other agencies. So for instance, I anticipate that housing vouchers will be turned over to the states rather than be administered at the federal level, and so at this point I think of the programs to be eliminated or to be returned to the states, and we’ll see what consolidation opportunities exist as a result of those program eliminations. So will there be some that get eliminated or combined? The answer is yes, but I’m not going to give you a list right now.”

Yes, if he tells you what he’s actually going to do, some people will disagree with him and think that they shouldn’t vote for him. So he’s going to keep it vague to make sure everyone can think that he’ll only do the things they agree with. That’s what all politicians do to some degree, of course, but you rarely hear someone say it out loud.

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  • Aquaria

    Does he understand that not taking a stand on anything tells people something.

    I guess he didn’t remember the wise words of Getty Lee: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

    And it’s one that tells us you’re a pandering idiot, Mittens.

  • Aquaria

    Sorry, Geddy Lee, not Getty. A friend of mine may have a work showing at the Getty soon, so it was on my mind.

  • Michael Heath

    I wouldn’t have a problem with not taking a firm stand on secondary considerations so much if politicians made a credible argument on the process they’d go through to improve results where they were specific about their objectives.

    From this perspective it would also be refreshing to see a politician admit sufficient ignorance to not take a firm stand for a particular secondary initiative, but to instead articulate the process they’d take to arrive at a position. Ross Perot and Herman Cain both used this approach. However in Mr. Cain’s case it demonstrated he didn’t possess even the most rudimentary understanding of a topic of ultimate importance rather than secondary considerations, where the process he promised was also a catastrophe waiting to happen.

  • llewelly

    Hahaha. Bears a certain similarity to speeches I heard at Mormon General Conference whilst growing up.

  • Didaktylos

    Aquaria – while Geddy Lee may have sung them, the words were actually Neil Peart’s.

  • D. C. Sessions

    And how nicely this dovetails with a lovely little bit of political physics:

  • llewelly

    It’s also notable how different Romney is from Santorum in this respect. Santorum, I am confident, knows that many of his stances anger hundreds of millions of Americans. That anger, rather than making him quail in fear of losing votes, strengthens his belief that he is a strong, persecuted Christian martyr, waging the war upon evil. He is convinced his strategy is what God wants, because he sees Satan fighting back.

  • llewelly, plus Santorum is just a dick.

  • And I thought Mormons only had one position: Missionary.

  • Trebuchet

    As pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Santorum believes all the crazy stuff he says. Romney doesn’t believe anything he says, except that he’s entitled to be president.

  • julial

    This isn’t a limitation of Romney or any other politician. It is a driving characteristic of the form of democracy we exercise.

    A candidate will be elected if and only if it can attract the votes of the electorate who believe A and the electorate who believe not-A as the telling factor by which they apply their votes. As it needs both groups, the candidate can must either;

    a) lie and tell the As “A” and the not-As “not-A” or

    b) stay vague.

    We see both strategies in play because both work. The first is less used than in the past because it is harder to keep each of the two (A and not-A) electorates ignorant of what was said to the other.

    A principled stand on issues is not an option for candidates who wish to be elected or re-elected.

  • KG

    “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… I’ve got others” – attributed to Groucho Marx

  • Ichthyic

    A principled stand on issues is not an option for candidates who wish to be elected or re-elected.

    It would be, if all running for office agreed that they would focus on issues. It pays too much to cheat, however, and so until we can actually learn to cooperate for the greater good, politics will never be anything more than a competition to see who can become the best liar, and will only attract those interested in their own self interests first and foremost.

    It’s a failed system.

    Has been since its invention.

  • Ichthyic

    … of course, the point is that while the system fails, the system itself is irrelevant compared to the people using it.

    Even dictatorships can be grand if the dictator really is concerned more for the welfare of the people than their own.

    But, benign kings only exist in fairy tales.

    and I can count on one hand the number of congressfolk I’ve met in 30 years that I could even come close to saying had more interest in their constituents than themselves.

  • I stand for everything you like. I oppose everything you dislike.

    Unless you don’t want me to.

  • jeevmon

    I think it was Paul Krugman who is credited with saying that Newt Gingrich is a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like. Maybe Romney is a bad campaigner’s idea of what a good campaigner sounds like.

    Santorum, however, remains a fundamentalist nutjob’s idea of what a fundamentalist nutjob sounds like.

  • stace

    Now Anne Romney is saying the Robo-Mormon needs to be unzipped so that the real Mitt Romney can come out. I’ve always had this suspicion that the real Mitt was a prick.