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You Can Never Meet The Same Mitt Romney Twice

Memo Pad

You Can Never Meet The Same Mitt Romney Twice


To a skeptic, the most remarkable aspect of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has been how so flexible a politician can represent so dogmatic a party. Contemporary Republicanism is ideological to its core. Everybody who watched the GOP primary debates between Mitt and the Seven Dwarves (or were there nine? I forget) understands that there’s a black-and-white party line on almost every imaginable topic from tax policy to global warming.

Romney, on the other hand, appears to have no firm convictions at all. How anybody purports to know what the GOP candidate actually thinks about any issue other than the size of his own offshore bank accounts beggars my poor imagination. That most Republicans have temporarily persuaded themselves to trust him reflects mainly their fear and loathing of President Obama.

Equally remarkable, however, is the way the Obama campaign has let Romney get away with it. How can his evasiveness not be an issue? For that matter, how can it not be THE issue? Early on, a strategic decision was apparently made to depict the GOP candidate as the “severely conservative” politician he affected to be during the Republican primaries.

Well, it ain’t working. So many and so various are the GOP candidate’s self-contradictions and reinventions that the proverbial “low information” citizens who appear to constitute much of the swing vote are pretty much free to imagine any Mitt Romney that strikes their fancy.

Maybe it’s unpatriotic to say so, but an awful lot of people who manage their personal affairs competently enough simply refuse to understand the most elementary facts when they’re part of a political argument.

Sometimes you have to tell them a story. It helps if that story connects to something close to home; something they’ve had to think about realistically in their own lives.

Such as, what happens if you lose your health insurance and then get sick? Millions live in fear of this every day.

CBS News’ Scott Pelley recently asked Romney a simple question on 60 Minutes: “Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don’t have it today?”

“Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance,” Romney allowed. “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”

“That’s the most expensive way to do it,” Pelley observed. Indeed, government figures show the average emergency room visit costs $922, vs. $199 for a doctor’s office visit.

Nor is it free. People do know that. Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act signed by President Reagan, hospitals must treat sick and injured patients regardless of their ability to pay. A civilized society can do no less; much less one that hopes to head off deadly epidemics.

Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate.

A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows.

Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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  1. bcarreiro October 17, 2012

    an ambulance ride to the hospital is more than the treatment itself sometimes………mitt dont care about half the american population as his intentions on a new america is to drain the rest we have.

    1. Ed October 17, 2012

      Evidently Romney still doesn’t realise there are people so poor they cannot afford a “health savings account”. And they do not all live in apartments. Some(unbelieveably in the United States,) live in boxes under bridges. But that is the GOP they believe that every american has the right to sleep under bridges and beg for food.

  2. Dominick Vila October 17, 2012

    The only thing that is consistent in Romney’s behavior is his inconsistency. This is far from being a trivial matter, and people should think long and hard about the implications of his duplicity and opportunistic tendencies. He moved to the center when he and his campaign managers concluded that the GOP messages was not resonating and was, in fact, driving voters away. The question is: which Mitt Romney would be in the Oval Office if he is elected, the man we heard at the RNC and during the primaries or the neo-Democrat that emerged a few weeks ago? Make no mistake, neither Ryan nor the Koch brothers, Karl Rove and the neocons will allow him to embrace the centrist policies he is suddenly promoting. He will be to the right of George W. Bush.

    1. sigrid28 October 17, 2012

      Here the second debate is also relevant. When we saw the ferocity with which Governor Romney insisted that the president was lying about what he said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack in Lybia, we saw the gotcha politics of a man accustomed to lying in exactly the same way he accused President Obama of lying. Romney assumed, to his humiliation last night, that it’s part of the office of the presidency to say whatever suits the party’s purposes, even when it’s a lie. Hard for some of us to believe, Romney is so practiced in skillful lying that he thinks everyone in authority acts the same way.

      This points to another weakness that would not serve Mitt Romney, or the country well, if he were to be elected president. He’s able to tell people what they want to hear, but he has disdain for the people he’s catering to, and sees them as naive and gullible, rubes who hold some “truths to be self-evident.” He is only the arrow atop the weather vane, pointing this way and that as the winds dictate, oblivious of the grounding and centering pole that lifts it aloft in the buffeting winds and keeps it there.

      This is where he gets it wrong, thinking he deserves his success, even when it comes to him at the expense of others or due to the sacrifices of others. This peeves me and other Americans when he boasts about taking the country into wars in Iran and Syria, or confronting the Soviet Union [sic]. Caught up in a whirlwind, President Obama stood in the Rose Garden and spoke the truth. Romney thought he was just spinning it.

      1. Sandra October 17, 2012

        Great points sigrid. The lies of Mitt Romney are finally seeing some sunshine and I hope the believers, as he referred to them early on in the campaign and the undecided will start thinking about this man, see him for what and who he actually is, A LIAR.

        1. B4Real2012 October 17, 2012


      2. pogomcl October 17, 2012

        Romney spoke and blasted Obama before the WhiteHouse had sufficient information. He had no right to do so. When some tragedy happens such as in Libya, the first concern is as Obama consistantly states, “getting the information”. In a chaotic situation in a foreign state where communications might not be so good, it’s truly essential to keep to the minimal public release. It’s far better to be cautious and keep silence than inform the public because sometimes public information or statements can be used against the victims.

        Benghazi is not South Chicago. Romney’s view of the world is about like Palin’s. If Romney didn’t have his marble toilet and handi-wipes, he’d shit himself if ever faced with realistic conditions that many US diplomats endure. He make noise, but there is nothing but noise.

        1. Dominick Vila October 17, 2012

          Compare RR’s behavior on the Lybia tragedy to the way Democrats reacted to 9/11, when we all rallied behind the president and became one. W’s honeymoon did not end until the last two years of his administration, when his disastrous foreign and domestic policies almost destroyed our country and did irreparable damage to our international credibility.

      3. DemCommonSense October 17, 2012

        Don’t forget Mitt’s “Politics of Envy” comment from earlier this year, either. It shows his disdain for the less worthy, lazy, good for nothing 47%

        — Correction… 99% (Occupy Movement then)

    2. Warren Nicholson October 18, 2012

      The problem that we face is that we have thought long and hard about Mitt but the swing vote has not and probaly won’t. That is why they are swing votes, anyone who spent five minutes a week on politics over the last year would understand what you are saying and would not be a swing vote.

  3. nobsartist October 17, 2012

    I have a friend that met willard about 45 years ago and he said you just would not be interested in meeting the twit twice.

    he said he was one of the stupidest people that he had ever met.

    now the John Birch Society has him running for president.

    1. Sandra October 17, 2012

      I can believe that, contrary to what people think because of his millions, this man is not intelligent or even smart, but a crook of the lowest order, a pimp in a suit and tie.

  4. docb October 17, 2012

    In the 1990’s I was a partner in an IA and did business with IB firms in Mass.and up the East Coast..My consultant in Boston swears I met Mitt…I do not remember him at all!

    Surely someone this dismissive of women I would have remembered! I do have a penchant for erasing arrogance that passes through my BS meter !

    I am glad the President came to play..no matter how disdainful he finds his opponent!

  5. Michelle Hackler October 17, 2012

    If Romney is elected you will get the conservative Romney. If he has a conservative house and senate he will simply sign their legislation. If Romney gets a liberal house and senate he will veto their bills and work for a conservative house and senate in 2018. Then goodbye Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps as well as any other government program that benefits the Middle Class. lower income wage earners, and the poor. Good bye to all of the jobs that these programs support unless you are willing to work for the same pay and benefits workers in China get.

    1. Sandra October 17, 2012

      He tried that tactic in MA and it backfired on him, so I don’t think he’ll want to try that rouse again but then again, the man is not intelligent or smart so who knows. In MA, he couldn’t get around the Dems so he went out to recruite Republicans to run for office, and more Dems were appointed to the State legislature. He got a smack down of epic proportions.

      1. bernieo October 19, 2012

        If he wants to get reelected he will keep pandering to his base. Too liberal and they are nutty enough to primary him.

        The story that makes me think the real Mitt is very conservative is when he was the leader of his Mormon community he pressured a woman whose Mormon doctor told her she needed an abortion because of a life-threatening condition not to do it. She says he told her as her religious leader his concern was for the child, not her child. When asked about it Romney couldn’t recall ( just like his bullying recall) but admitted it could have been him! Pressuring someone to risk her life is not just posturing, it shows who he is when it matters, and that is definitely not moderate. It is particularly ironic from a man who went to a pro-Vietnam War rally, then avoided service.

  6. Daniel Jones October 17, 2012

    Mitt Romney reminds me of a slightly less psychotic Smiler. The Smiler was a fictional President of the United States in the comic cum graphic novel *Transmetropolitan*, and he was the ultimate example of a creature of politics without morality or conviction.

  7. sarahg October 17, 2012

    Well, apart from the fact that you do not have a choice as to whether or not you’d buy insurance from any used insurance peddler, I’d steer clear of the O-Mitt school of insurance scamology where they O-Mitt choice and they O-Mitt the truth; but, the same old, tired, cynical, elitist argument, played by dems and repubs alike, that puts the blame of rising, no, obscenely exorbitant, healthcare costs on those who just run off in droves to ER’s is flatly bogus and disgustingly dishonest. It’s the same cynical argument that sub-prime borrowers brought down the entire US financial system along with Europe’s. Total filth!!!

    The problem is that the excessive, almost psychotic, insane profiting by by pharmaceutical companies, doctors, lawyers (yuk), specialists, and just about every single practitioner in the medical business you can think of has made healthcare in this country hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of percent more expensive than in any other nation on this planet–which is the chief reason why we need healthcare reform in the first place–and no reform thus far has addressed that issue. None.

    All they’ve managed to do is leave that financial regime of wealthy elites and huge conglomerates, with their Herculean money making machine firmly in place, enabled and abetted by your government, but with the new twist of forcing people, against their will, to buy private health insurance policies, with the net result of making average, hard working people pay for the excesses and bloat of the rich, effectuating one of the greatest coups for the insurance industry and the rich of all time–and all of this while telling gullible, information deprived Americans that politicians have done good for the people. Garbage.

    And I’d love to know what planet this author lives on where you can get a doctor’s visit for a lousy buck ninety-nine? I really need to start taking notes when I read this crap. You know what, there isn’t a single honest, decent person, not suffering from a massive case of dissociative personality disorder, in politics or journalism in the United States in 2012. That is what’s so horribly wrong with this freakish land of sociopaths we live in.

    1. Sand_Cat October 17, 2012

      I have to say that with some small amendments, I agree with just about everything you said.

  8. howa4x October 17, 2012

    Romney has so many different positions that he ends up on all sides of an issue. Conservaties should really worry about this because he is carrying your banner. Now he already backed off banning abortions by saying that under him the Feds won’t fund them, which we don’t already. He is ok with most of the health care reform law including the pre existing condition issue, except that he already knows, the ins co’s won’t do that unless healthy people pay into the system, which is called the mandate. This is what the right wing calls tyranny, but they are not ones to understand medical economics anyway, or any other economic theory for that matter. They call the mandate to buy private insurance so the companies that sell it can make a profit socialism so that is the extent of their knowledge base. But this is not new for Mitt. He was a left of center governor of Mass. who transformed himself into a right wing canidate, and now once again is transforming into a centertist canidate. The best part of this is his jetisoning of the right wing ideas. He is more or less saying to them, hey if I really tell them what you really believe we will never get elected. So much for carrying the banner, and so much for his convictions. Definately not a true believer. So my right wing friends how do you trust someone who will tell any group what they want to hear including you. hehehe!

  9. Martyn Wilson October 17, 2012

    I’m an outside observer on this, but I can’t see why everyone is so surprised. Eric Fehrnstrom said back in March that this would happen, and he was precisely correct: “you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.” So now Mitten is doing just that and everyone says “He keeps changing his position.” And that is a surprise?

    1. Donald Schirmer October 17, 2012

      I am hoping Mitt becames a comedian on Saturday Night Live with his etch-a-sketch and the blank chair next to him and he talking to God and telling HIM how many lies he has told

      1. Martyn Wilson October 17, 2012

        I think that would be good. He could do a Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry impersonation, look at the chair and say “The Angel Moroni? Yah mean, like ‘Moron’ with a personal pronoun?” Then he shoots the chair, and says, “Make my day”. Great television.

        It’s going to be quite interesting if, as I sincerely hope, he loses on 6 November. The right wing are going to crucify him for being a bit liberal, and the GOP centrists are going to be pissed off with him for flirting with the ultras. What goes round comes round.

      2. highpckts October 17, 2012

        Donald – he doesn’t have time for Saturday nite live! You see he’s too busy ( unlike President Obama who he accused of socializing when the embassy was attacked! Romney has a whole different set of morals and rules than everyone else besides he not funny enough for late nite!

  10. benjclaassen October 17, 2012

    To all voters in progressive state’s, my backward state, Louisiana will lead the nation in voting for Romney. As I watched Mitt he had a very slick delivery that will win many votes, but he reminded me of Louisiana’s own preacher, Jimmy Swaggert, slick but not that honest.

    1. Donald Schirmer October 17, 2012

      You want someone honest and you in the bayou State will vote for Mitt and git what he gives you, nothing but heart aches.

  11. Sand_Cat October 17, 2012

    Tomorrow? It seems to me Romney could go on at leangth to one person about his deep and long-held convictions on some issue which agree with those of the questioner, then turn to the guy next tothe first and go on at the same length and intensity about how the opposite position is his lifelong, ironclad belief without the slightest hesitation or embarrassment.

    1. Donald Schirmer October 17, 2012

      Dear Ms Sand cat: I am allergic to cats but I love reading my cat mysteries with an owner named Qwilleran. Yes, this man is an embarrassment to all including Honest Abe, if he was alive would have switched to the Democratic Party

      1. lana ward October 17, 2012


  12. Peggy Seme October 17, 2012

    I watched the debate last night and my take on the tax issue is this–Romney finally released some info and sounds good but!!! He says he is going to elimate taxes on capital gains and bank account interest!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The middle income earners already don’t have to pay capital gains on housing within a limit. SOOOOOO those that have more than one house and sell CAPITAL GAINS TAXES WILL BE ELIMATED I DON’T KNOW MANY MIDDLE INCOME WORKERS WITH SEVERAL HOUSES, I ALSO DON’T KNOW OTHER THAN 401K, IRS, SEP IRA’S THAT HAVE LARGE CAPITAL GAINS IN THE STOCK MARKET
    According to the fact checkers this will cause the middle income worker/earners/class to pay higher taxes to make up for this loss as this plan will continue to increase the deficit.
    We have those politicians that pledged not to raise taxes on high income earners or they will be voted out by those with high incomes supporting others who will sign. They all need to be working for the country not themselves selfish SOB’s

    1. Donald Schirmer October 17, 2012

      I gave up my savings account at TD Bank as they were only paying 1% but guess what, they aways pay interest on my checking account. wooptidoo. I own 3/4th of one house and no other. No capital gains on my $15,000 Sociasl Security each year, but that is lumped together with my wife’s SS, so Romney is offering us nothing and we don’t have to pay our health insurance as Governor Christie in my State does even control that as we get it becauase we were State employees.

  13. Donald Schirmer October 17, 2012

    What is on this man’s mind, with all his money, he should be able to do the math, even figuring out that he pays less tax than his secretary and I thought he meant equal pay for both men and women. He should make sure his secretary gets more and pays less.

  14. John Deer October 17, 2012


  15. Honey Bucket October 17, 2012

    Romney is like a snake oil salesman. He is oily and smarmy. He has lied about everything he has said and will say absolutely anything to get elected. I just don’t trust him.
    He lied last night about Pell grants, wind power tax benefits, the oil pipe (which if built would only transport oil to the gulf to ship to foreign markets and would create millions of jobs).
    He just isn’t believable in anything he says.

    1. lana ward October 17, 2012

      You are describing Obama EXACTLY!!

  16. pogomcl October 17, 2012

    I wouldn’t buy used shoe polish from this guy– He makes a lot of noise, but says zitto. He has never really worked in his life, never been hungry and he substitutes feely-good emotionalism for basic substance. A guy who is a tax-dodger himself shouldn’t be president. A guy who leverages companies, sends them into bankruptcy and then profits from their added debts as consultancy payments ought not be president… his next job ought to be a catholic priest because he has the sanctimonious self-righteous hypocrisy of one.

  17. Gammaanya October 17, 2012

    I still do not know WHY people think Romney or even Ryan ARE SMART. THEY ARE STUPIDEST PEOPLE with money. More money than COMMON SENSE.
    I am saying that R/R will win, MONEY ALWAYS WIN. Gullible, scared and STUPID, racist people will vote for R/R.

  18. S-3 October 17, 2012

    Once again, NOT NEWS.

    We all know by now how many Americans will be hurt without access to healthcare or affordablity (they’re really isn’t any) hence why ACA needs to stay in place and get amended until the positive results are put in place to ensure otherwise.

    It’s clear people like Romney, those in power alongside him, and those who stupidly vote for these facsists want the rest of us who know better to do and do quickly, dare I sadly say it…

  19. 1bythebrooks2 October 17, 2012

    As I have said before, let the free-loaders in Congress (all of them) pay for their own insurance! They can afford it. I believe that I have read somewhere that they cannot enact any law on the people that they themselves are not subject to. Was it the Constitution? Oh, and by the way, Obama-Biden 2012!!

  20. lana ward October 17, 2012

    Obama wasted LOTS of money running lying, negative adds about Romney. It was working–until the debates! America saw a man completely different than what they saw in Obama’a lying adds! They like what they see, it’s showing in the polls!!!

  21. Charles Utwater II October 19, 2012

    According to

  22. Charles Utwater II October 19, 2012

    What’s really shocking is the behavior of the press corps in all this. The so-called “fact checkers” have failed to label as lies any of Romney’s whoppers except the most incandescent of them. Even the Libya lie was treated as partly true by such self-professed moral exemplars as Annenberg. They’ve bent over backwards to pretend that this man is not a sociopath. God help the United States, ’cause our so-called free press sure ain’t gonna.

  23. NEAL BARAB October 19, 2012

    Everytime he gives a new answer about anything, Obama should say…

    “that’s different from what you said during the primaries, which is different from what you said as governor, which is different from what you say behind closed doors. How can anybody know what you’ll be like as president, when you change your opinion depending on who you talk to?”


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