It is Utter Folly to Trust Romney

It is Utter Folly to Trust Romney October 29, 2012

A reader writes:

I have been following your discussion of Romney, the HHS Mandate, and Dale Price with interest, and have another tidbit to offer against Romney. You may already know this but Romney’s shenanigans in MA go beyond forcing Catholic hospitals to dispense the morning after pill, even if only “just a little” further. Romneycare itself actually mandates insurance coverage of contraception in a manner similar (but not identical) to the HHS mandate in Obamacare.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures:

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 175 § 47W, ch. 176A § 8W, ch. 176B § 4W, and ch. 176G § 4O(2002) require insurers that provide benefits for outpatient services to also provide hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women and outpatient FDA-approved contraceptive services under the same terms and conditions as for other outpatient services. The law defines outpatient contraceptive services. This law excludes policies purchased by an employer that is a church or a qualified church-controlled organization. (2002 Mass. Acts, Chap. 49; SB 2139).

Romneycare (2006) then mandated that pretty much everyone in Massachusetts obtain a state-government-regulated minimum level of healthcare insurance coverage, including the above. So while Romney didn’t sign the 2002 law requiring all health insurance in MA to cover birth control candy (and many other states have similar laws), he signed the 2006 law requiring everyone in MA to purchase that same insurance. Of course, the exception is a little bigger than Obamacare’s, since it exempts church controlled organizations that don’t serve only their own religious. But it doesn’t exempt Joe the Catholic Machine Shop Worker With 15 Employees or Sally the Catholic Individual Insurance Purchaser. It may be splitting hairs but your everyday MA resident got his religious liberty violated in 2006 as much as the rest of us will under Obamacare. And that’s the guy we’re supposed to trust to repeal the HHS mandate.

As an aside, I certainly respect the idea of voting for Romney for the reasons suggested by Price. But I just can’t do it.

Yup.  The reason I respect Dale’s case for voting for Romney is that he makes it without any BS about Romney being a good man, or reliable, or trustworthy, or interested in abortion, the HHS Mandate, gay marriage or anything else beyond his principle-free will to power that is, at heart, a total moral void.  Dale simply is rolling the dice and guessing that, nearly by accident, Romney’s particular set of political allegiances is slightly more likely to cause him to–one hopes–do slightly less damage than the current occupant of the White House.  It’s a respectable position, I reckon, because Dale does not disgrace himself by telling the massive passel of lies that so much pro-Romney stuff has consisted of in the desperate attempt to make this vote anything other than holding one’s nose and muscling down a dungburger because that’s what the GOP, in its utter cynical contempt for prolifers, has forced on us.  Dale recognizes very clearly that this is a hostage situation and does not pretend that Romney is anything other than the cynical duplicitous liar he is.  He simply takes the long shot chance that his cynical duplicitous lies will be slightly less damaging than Obama’s cynical duplicitous lies.  I totally respect that.

I just don’t think the game is worth the candle and so will be voting for somebody I actually want.  And, I suspect, after Romney is elected and commits his many many betrayals, Dale and many more will be joining me in 2016–because Dale is a good and honest man and I think his patience, which is greater than mine because he is a better man than me, is just about gone with the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism.

Let us all pray for each other.  We are going to need to stick together in the storms that are coming as America continues its transformation into a post-Christian and anti-Catholic soft police state.

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  • Blog Goliard

    So you find Dale Price’s case for Romney acceptable only because he doesn’t see any good in the man at all, and isn’t interested in finding any.

    What a sad Manichean world you’re descending into.

    • Mark Shea

      Not at all. I’m simply tired of watching people lie to themselves about Romney in order to try to get themselves to vote for him. Dale doesn’t lie to himself, and I respect that. A man who would pay with his own money to have his grandson killed should he not be up to snuff is not a good man. I refuse to pretend he is.

      • Blog Goliard

        Well, I can see how you’d get that impression based on Internet comments…but in real life, I know quite a few people who are voting Romney and quite a few who are voting Obama, and I can’t think of any of whom it would be fair to say they’re lying to themselves.

        The real problem comes when (if) Romney wins. That’s when the hagiography and sucking up to power kicks into high gear. 2008 was an aberration, in that Obama won because he became an idol–rather than the other way ’round, which is more usual.

        • Mark Shea

          For the purposes of the prolife movement, he is already an idol, which is the problem. The moment the prolife movement began to lie to itself that he is “prolife” and not merely anti-abortion when the victim is not inconvenient to his will to power, the moment prolifers told themselves that Ryan was miraculously redeeming him and not (as he was) acquiescing to the murder of inconvenient victims for the sake of power, the moment prolifers began to resume their accustomed apologetics for unjust war and torture in the name of being a good GOP soldier is the moment the lie happened. Everything after the win will simply be more complexification of the lie. Romney will do the prolife movement no good at all beyond a few strategic concession that will, once again, buy our silence and support while he sets about, like Bush, making us enthusiastic accomplices to grave evil. All our “realism” over the past 30 years has brought us to the point of supporting this most utterly unreal of candidates: as close to an artificial life form as we have ever put in the Oval Office. And it is rendered prolife Catholics capable of saying that voting one’s conscience is “bizarre”. A fitting, yet tragic, doom.

          • aimee

            I was happy when Ryan got nominated, as it gave me hope. Happiness ended one week later, when Ryan publicly compromised his views on abortion, and toed the Romney line, which he’s done repeatedly since. I was done with Ryan at that moment – I can’t respect a man who doesn’t have the courage of his convictions.

    • J. H. M. Ortiz

      Admittedly, as Vatican II’s constitution Gaudium et Spes states (Section 28), “[God] forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone,” and thus forbids us to judge that someone’s soul is in a state of mortal sin. Nevertheless, it is possible, after studying someone’s public behavior over a period of years up to the present, to conclude that his moral character is such that he has, or lacks, a virtue or virtues — even, sometimes, that he lacks any and all discernable public moral virtues necessary for a true statesman. Even, therefore, if Mr. Shea be mistaken in alleging that Mr. Romney totally lacks public moral virtue (notice that Shea has not bad-mouthed Romney’s private life), it does not follow that Shea or anyone agreeing with him asserts, Manicheanly, anyone’s total depravity.

      • Blog Goliard

        Of course Mark is asserting Romney’s total depravity. This is why he rejects so vigorously any “BS about Romney being a good man” in any way, shape, or form; why he sources this depravity not just in Romney’s public life, as you seem to posit, but in his private life (see “pay with his own money to have his grandson killed”, immediately above); and why he demands (to get back to the original article and my response) that one agree with him regarding this total depravity before he can respect one’s case in favor of voting for Romney.

        I’m not arguing this point to stick up for Romney…he’s a big boy who’s entered the arena of his own free will in pursuit of his own ambitions, and God forbid we ever have another President who is as fervently defended against earned ridicule and mockery as Obama. Rather, I’m suggesting that trying a little harder to see a man in full, virtues as well as vices; trying to be a little charitable now and then rather than eagerly seizing upon every excuse that presents itself to hurl every colorful and categorical denunciation one can think of at the man; allowing room for hope that things will improve, however warily…making a habit of these things won’t make any difference in the wider political world, but they might just be better for one’s soul.

        Or, shorter version: Sure, the way of the delusional butt-kisser is not the way of virtue…but neither is the way of Tom Tomorrow’s smug nihilistic sub-Daily-Show hipster snark.

        • Mark Shea

          I don’t believe in total depravity. I do believe that dividing line between being a good man and a bad one lies somewhere between being willing to pay with your own money to have your defective grandson destroyed and not being willing to do that and that Romney has demonstrated which side of that line he stands on. I don’t see why one has to accept a theory of total depravity to accept that. Can Romney repent and change? Sure. Do I think the best way to effect that is to give him vast and unaccountable power? No.

          Do you think Obama is totally depraved? Do you think him a good man? Me neither.

          • Blog Goliard

            As I’ve mentioned before, I make it a habit of looking for something good in politicians, and keeping those things in mind even in the midst of heated controversy.

            This is easy with Romney. Increasingly hard with Obama…if it weren’t for his daughters and their relationship, I’d literally have nothing positive left to say about the man, and–after almost four years of fighting against the conclusion–would indeed have to plump for “totally depraved”.

            • Mark Shea

              That’s the difference between us. I’m harsh with these guys because I believe they can repent. I categorically reject total depravity. I don’t think its a question of making excuses for them till something snaps and then refusing to forgive them as totally depraved and beyond redemption. I think it’s a matter of clearly naming the evils they are committing but holding onto the fact that even as disgusting as their sins are, they can still be saved.

              • Blog Goliard

                Well, that was unexpected. My point was meant to be that it’s become harder and harder for me to find good in the President. I didn’t mean to indicate that I thought he was beyond redemption.

                Indeed, one of the reasons (albeit a minor, presumptuous, and ever so slightly jocular one) that I find it so urgent to eject Obama from office is that would present him the best chance to save his soul.

                Also, quite frankly Mark, I’ve been pushing back on some of these posts not because I believe Romney needs to be urgently defended from you, or you or your readers need to be persuaded to vote for him, but rather because I’m troubled by the heedless lack of civility and temperance, and the categorical and personally derogatory and almost compulsively repetitive nature of the denunciations. In these election-related posts, you’ve started to read like the “something snaps” you just described is what’s happened with you.

                Let’s take the surrogacy agreement that you keep referring to in this thread. While it is my understanding that Mormon authorities discourage, but do not forbid, IVF and surrogacy, I wholeheartedly accept Catholic teaching that they are wrong, and devoutly wish they had never been invented. If you want to make a case that the only people Catholics should ever vote for are those who similarly shun IVF, that’s one thing. But you’ve gone for a much more explosive charge…and I’m not quite sure how much fact and how much presumption have gone into that charge.

                Do you know for a fact, for instance, that Mitt Romney read, and approved of, and intended to encourage and fund the exercise of, the part of the surrogacy agreement dealing with abortion? Going back to the original TMZ story, there is this: “Sources connected with Mitt Romney tell TMZ Mitt was involved in the surrogate arrangement because he paid some of the expenses connected with the agreement. We do not know if Mitt Romney read the contract or knew the terms.” Do you have subsequent, superior information that establishes more than this?

                There’s also this: “Attorney Bill Handel — a nationally-known expert in surrogacy law who put the deal together between Tagg and the surrogate — tells TMZ when the 2009 contract was drafted there was no Paragraph 13 providing for abortion because Tagg and his wife didn’t want it. Handel says in 2011, when the second contract was being drafted, everyone involved ‘just forgot’ to remove Paragraph 13. Handel says, ‘No one noticed. What can I say?'” Knowing how veteran lawyers operate when drafting contracts (pull document out of form file, change names, bill client), I find this credible enough to give them the benefit of the doubt. But perhaps you’ve located proof otherwise?

                Oh, and then there’s the matter of who turned these contracts over to TMZ in the first place. Was it the Romney family? If not, I don’t consider the details properly my business in any event. And even if it is everyone’s business, I set the bar pretty high before I’m willing to accept a charge as stark as “a man who would pay with his own money to have his grandson killed”. You may well see this as making excuses or grasping at straws to deny the obvious; but I view such a conclusion as one to come to reluctantly, sadly, with solid proof. Whereas, from you, I sense only eagerness to draw this conclusion.

                When called on such eagerness to think the worst of Romney, you mock those who would have such tender concern for a man who is rich and powerful. Perhaps I missed the part of the Catechism where it exempts us from showing the same Christian charity to the likes of Romney that we’re obligated to show everyone else?

                I’ve got hard-core, Kool-Aid-drinking, Obama-worshipping Facebookers in my news feed, who post all manner of preposterous allegations against Romney. But the meanness of the bile you vent at Romney, and your eagerness to denounce him whenever you can find any excuse to do so–even when it requires giving his words and actions the most nefarious possible interpretation–is leaving all of them miles in the dust. You’re scaring me, friend.

                If I’m the only one troubled here–if other readers find the tone congenial and appropriate; and the content generating more light than heat; and the unshakable assurance appropriate, that someone like Mary Ann Glendon must be lying to herself or an idiot or a fool for viewing Romney quite differently than you–well, if it is just me, then I suppose I should spend more time reflecting on what’s wrong with me: Why it is I’m able to get up in the morning and look at the news and not start raging once again at how evil are Romney’s words and deeds?

                And then resolve to spend less, if any, time commenting on election-related posts here. Because I don’t want to keep repeating myself along these lines: it’s exhausting, I hate conflict, I am much more ignorant of formal moral theology than you and some of the other commenters here…and above all I keep remembering, as I write, what a pathetic excuse for a Christian I am most of the time. And if I’m in the wrong here, then that increases a million-fold the reasons to fall silent on the matter. But upon reflection, and after checking my reactions against others I trust, I don’t think I’m completely wrong here, which is why it was on my heart to lay this all out, and let you and others respond to it as they may.

                Be assured, Mark, that even when I have such worriedly (and verbose!) critical feedback to offer, I am grateful for your intelligence and wit, and especially your theological and inspirational writings, which I have found most helpful and enlightening. I shall continue to remember you and your intentions in my prayers, as I hope you may sometimes find occasion to remember me in yours.

                • Mark Shea


                  I’m quite willing to acknowledge that some excuse like “He forgot” or “Mormonism blinds Romney” or “He could not be bothered to read the contract on his grandson’s life” or some other excuse may explain his callous disregard for what a normal healthy personality should have considered. But none of that particularly reassures me that he is a good man. It just reinforces my perception that he is a bad man–like Obama–and that this election is basically a choice between two bad men, one slightly less bad than the other.

                  That said, this small underscore of the moral void at the center of Romney’s personality is not why I am refusing to vote for him. He could be (and it appears he is) a warm family man with a love for his wife and his kids. (He’s not fiend. Neither is Obama). But he is, in his public actions, a proven bad man with no convictions whatsoever beyond his will to power. I make no claims about his subjective culpability for all this any more than I make them for Obama. Both men may be, subjectively, as ignorant, inculpable and innocent as the daisies (though that requires more faith than I can muster). But in their recorded words and actions, they impress me–as a voter responsible to make a prudent assessment of their character, policies, words and actions–as consistently wedded to the promotion of grave intrinsic evil. This warm family man cares nothing about abortion beyond what is expedient, uses enthusiasm for torture as a laff line, and surrounds himself with the maniacs whose policies resulted in thousands upon thousands of deaths of innocents in Iraq. Common sense, in 100% of my experience, tells me that people who are consistently wedded to the promotion of grave intrinsic evil are bad people, even if they love their dog. I can’t judge their souls, but I can judge their behavior. When a kid is in and out of jail, selling drugs, shooting child porn and breaking into houses, I tell my kids, “Stay away from that guy. He’s bad.” I don’t mean I know his eternal destiny. But I do mean, as all speakers of English do, that he is trouble and it is folly to trust him.

                  None of my readers are inclined to trust Obama so I needn’t warn them not to. Lots of my readers are inclined to make excuses for Romney, so I warn them that doing so is utter folly. It’s really that simple.

        • J. H. M. Ortiz

          Supporting one’s own grandson’s being directly aborted would be against the virtue of justice, a virtue traditionally understood as BETWEEN persons; whereas temperance (including chastity, etc.) is traditionally understood as being in itself a private virtue. And Mr. Shea has not bad-mouthed Mr. Romney for any unchastity or the like.
          The Scholastic tradition (e.g., John of St. Thomas in his works on logic) distinguished between something being bad *simply* (Lat. “simpliciter”), and its being bad “in every respect” (Lat. “totaliter” or “omnino”), or in Blog Goliard’s — not Shea’s — terms, bad in every way, shape, and form. Thus Satan was understood to be bad simply, but not bad in every way, shape, and form; for he was deemed good in his nature: therefore, relatively good, even though simply bad. It’s thus that I understand Shea to say that Romney is bad simply — with the difference that badness is not asserted of Romney as to deep internal guilt (unknowable by us), but only as to his lack of public virtue.

          • Blog Goliard

            I appreciate the Scholastic insights, as I’m not well-versed on that sort of thing myself.

            But I’m not sure that it helps Mark in this context to interpret him as contending that, in outward signs at least, Romney is made of the same malum simpliciter stuff as the Devil.

    • Dale Price

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say I don’t find any good in the man–in fact, I don’t say that. But I certainly think the political man is untrustworthy.

      To the extent he can be trusted to act in a certain way because it will bring him political advantage, he can be relied upon to so act. That’s why I still think he will chuck the mandate: it requires a flip of the pen, and it only alienates his political foes.

      But I also admit it’s a calculated risk given his history.

    • Ted Seeber

      For me, it is the sad manichean world I was born into. I wish I could find a ray of hope out of it, but the only ones I have found are all in intentional communities locked away from the world.

  • Janet O’Connor

    This info about Romney and contraceptives has been out there for the public record all during the campaign season. I got a chance to vote in a survey from Ron and I saw that most of the responses said they were not going to vote for Romney but would either vote for Gary Johnson or write in Ron Paul’s name anyway. He is supposed to be the lesser of two evils but to me, EVIL IS STILL EVIL.

    • Ghosty

      Unfortunately Gary Johnson is worse than Romney on all relevant moral questions except unjust war.

      Personally I wrote in Paul. I looked at Virgil Goode but I couldn’t support his immigration policy. Eliminating citizenship by birth is unreasonable and illogical. Technically it would eliminate my citizenship as my family was illegal a couple generations back and the way we “earned” citizenship was by the birth of the subsequent generations.

      Peace and God bless!

    • Balin

      Choosing the lesser of two evils merely postpones the inevitable.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    “He simply takes the long shot chance that his [Romney’s] cynical duplicitous lies will be slightly less damaging than Obama’s cynical duplicitous lies.”

    How so? When I look at the big issues, I don’t see all that much of an improvement between the two candidates, with the possible exception of the HHS issue.

    Abortion. If anyone thinks Romney seriously intends to do anything at all about this, I have a bridge to sell them.

    The economy. Romney’s policies essentially take us back to the same policies that brought about the Great Recession. That’s a good idea, why? Yes, Obama isn’t doing much to save the sinking ship, but I hardly think setting the vessel afire is the best solution.

    Foreign policy. Romney has no clue.

    I’ve never bought into the “lesser of two evils” argument, but even if I did, I just don’t see Romney as all that much less. Just different.

    • Blog Goliard

      “Romney’s policies essentially take us back to the same policies that brought about the Great Recession.”

      That’s a silly talking point and I’m surprised you fell for it. (Or has Romney come out in favor of a newly-expanded Community Reinvestment Act and putting Franklin Raines back in charge of Fannie Mae?)