Most of us realize candidates for President (except the candidate we happen to be supporting at the moment), well, to put it politely, dissemble. In fact, my friend, John, is leaning toward choosing his candidate this time based on how well he dissembles. His current choice is Mitt Romney. John’s theory works like this: If Romney works hardest at dissembling about his record – to convince Republican’s he’s a true conservative – he’s is the most pliable (sensitive to political pressure) candidate. In other words, Romney may not be conservative but if he’s bound and determined to convince you he is that counts too.
Here’s an example. Recently the Republican candidates for President trooped to Washington for the NRA’s annual convention.
Earlier this year Mitt Romney had boasted he was a “lifelong hunter” – only to have to admit later he’d been on exactly two hunting trips in his whole life (though he did add he’s hunted “small varmints more than twice”).
This is what one pesky reporter politely described as a “nuanced” position.
Rudy Giuliani had a “nuanced” position too.
When he was Mayor, Giuliani compared the NRA an extremist group, backed gun control, and sued firearms manufacturers.
When the NRA members asked him about his lawsuit, the Mayor said it has since “gone in a direction I don’t agree with.” He added, on suing gun makers, “That is not necessarily what’s needed now.”
For those not familiar with New York colloquialisms, ‘I don’t necessarily disagree with that’ – is a time honored dodge. Down South we say virtually the same thing this way, ‘I could go either way on that.’
It would be nice to think voters will decide a candidate willing to tell a little white lie about something as peripheral as his stand on suing gun manufacturers – which isn’t at the top of anyone’s poll of burning issues – probably isn’t qualified to be President. But, of course, that’s a fairy-tale. Giuliani and Romney are running first and second in Iowa and New Hampshire.
But, my friend, John’s, theory – which he admits is born of political cynicism – does have one flaw. Romney certainly sounds like a conservative today. But as one political realist said (in a slightly different context), The problem isn’t buying a politician. It’s keeping him bought.
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