Later today, Mitt Romney is scheduled to give a major speech on health care. I'm skeptical--as Mollie noted below, so is the Wall Street Journal, which today ran one of the most scathing editorials that I can recall in its pages, declaring that Romney "might as well try to knock off Joe Biden and get on the Obama ticket."
All the same, I'm trying to keep an open mind. No, much more than that. I want to like Romney. He's intelligent, well-spoken, and accomplished. He's seasoned, having run for president once already. He's rich, and he has a lot of rich friends, a not insignificant matter now that the Obama campaign has made clear it intends to raise $1 billion. At this point in his life, Romney sounds like a thorough conservative.
Which brings me to my problem. "At this point in his life." How much allowance can we prudently, properly make for Romney's earlier stands? May we overlook them on account of his youth at the time? Or wave them away because he was running for office in Massachusetts, one of the most liberal states in the nation, and accordingly had to adopt liberal positions? To what extent does a difference in a man's views later in life reflect growth and maturity--and to what extent does it suggest instead mere opportunism?
Nearby, a link to the test case, a video of Romney's 1994 debate with Ted Kennedy, against whom he was running for the Senate. Among other matters, as you'll see, Romney declares himself pro-choice--vehemently--places distance between himself and Ronald Reagan, claiming "I was an Independent during Reagan-Bush," and suggests that the Boy Scouts ought to drop its ban on gays.
Would you do me a favor? Would you look at the clip, then let me know how much weight we should place on Romney then as we evaluate Romney now?