Mitt, Cheney, and the Auto Rescue

Dick CheneyJonathan Cohn of The New Republic has a very evenhanded column about Romney’s position on the GM rescue, What Romney Wants You (and Ohio) to Forget About the GM Rescue. The title makes the article sound a lot more critical than it is. Let me briefly lay out Cohn’s argument.

Romney’s New York Times OpEd was far more nuanced than its title “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” would indicate. He was not calling for the liquidation of GM and Chrysler. What’s more, it isn’t clear whether he was for or against Obama’s decision to rescue the auto makers. During this period, Romney indicated elsewhere that he did support it.

And then came the primary season, and Romney—Quelle surprise!—changed his position. This is from a CNBC debate:

My view with regards to the bailout was that whether it was by President Bush or by President Obama, it was the wrong way to go. I said from the very beginning they should go through a managed bankruptcy process, a private bankruptcy process. We have capital markets and bankruptcy… My plan, we would have had a private sector bailout with the private sector restructuring and bankruptcy with the private sector guiding the direction as opposed to what we had with government playing its heavy hand.

And then he changed his position back during the Michigan primary. And now we hear from him all the time, “Of course I supported the auto bailout!” It’s easy to be on the right side of history when you simply change your opinion to whatever history says.

This is not an isolated incident, of course. Consider Obama’s position on Osama bin Laden. When Obama said that he would go into Pakistan to get him, everyone attacked him. This included Mitt Romney. But after Obama did exactly what he said he would, Mitt Romney was totally on board. “Even Jimmy Carter would have made that call.”

I don’t mind inconsistency; I’m one of its greatest practitioners. But there is a real problem with Mitt Romney’s inconsistencies. It doesn’t come from the shifting tides of his moods and facts. Instead, it comes from his decision about whatever is expedient. But even this I wouldn’t mind if he hadn’t surrounded himself with all Bush’s people on foreign and domestic affairs. There is no doubt that if Romney is elected President, there will be a group of neocons and “free” marketeers who will play him like a fiddle. And we don’t need another Cheney administration.

Update (23 October 2012 9:55 pm)

Here is a more negative take on the Romney claim by the exceptional Martin Bashir:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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