The “Etch-a-Sketch” is here to stay. After a primary season of “gaffes” and “flip flops” on everything from animal rights to abortion, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has finally secured the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Whether or not he’ll shake it up and set his programming back a few clicks to moderate mid-nineties Mitt (remember when he was better for gay rights than Ted Kennedy?) or remain on the wrong side of history, has yet to be seen. It’s too bad his father, George W. Romney, is no longer with us–a man so far on the right side of history (they say integrity skips a generation in the Romney family) it cost him the Republican Presidential Nomination against Richard Nixon in 1968.
When asked in an interview about his inconsistent stance on the Vietnam War, he said that he had initially supported the war effort because U.S military officials and diplomats had “brainwashed” him (a term the media interpreted literally) into thinking it was a good idea, and he could no longer support an “overreaction in military terms in dealing with Vietnamese problems.” His popularity plummeted after the interview, and he withdrew from the contest early. Witness the exact moment Romney Sr. blew it:
When Nixon later appointed him Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Romney Sr. went to task desegregating suburbs and increasing housing for the poor; something Nixon didn’t appreciate very much. He was told time and time again to slow the course on civil rights. Like president Obama today, George Romney’s “evolution” on equality was equally unpopular among the GOP. But it remained a major theme in his political career, one he would have to repeatedly defend within his own (to paraphrase Mitt) “severely conservative” political party.
According to Ronald B. Scott, author of Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics, America would be “better off today if George Romney had found a more circumspect way to say what he did about Vietnam. If he were elected, he would have spared us the shame of Watergate and the ‘enemies list,’ the sadness and horror of Kent State, and the deadly protests that followed.”
Unfortunately though, George’s gaffes cost him the primary and his son’s didn’t. Some say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree because both Romneys flip flopped on significant issues. The difference between Mitt’s glaring inconsistencies on gay rights and health care and his father’s inconsistency on the Vietnam War, however, is that Romney Sr. changed his mind out of personal conviction, while Romney Jr. did so for personal gain.
That’s what I call inconsistent.