Gregg, here is a response to your recent column against Mitt Romney. I found the column unfair, innaccurate and misleading. I am no “Romniac”, not even a Romney supporter, but I took your challenge to rebut the main thrust of your attack against Romney.

1. Mitt is a liberal. How do you think he got elected to the most left wing state in America? He was as pro-abortion, pro-gay agenda, pro-gun control as Ted Kennedy when elected governor. He was pro-choice when he was elected and pro-abortion when he left the governor’s office. When he was elected governor, the Baked Bean State did not have gay marriage. When he left, it did. When he was elected, Massachusetts had a Republican governor for nearly two decades. When he left, it didn’t. What it had was a Hillary disciple who is now transforming the Cradle of Liberty into an amalgam of the Soviet Union, Sodom and Las Vegas. Imagine what Mitt could do as president.

Mitt is not a liberal. He’s just not an evangelical’s idea of a conservative.

“When he was elected governor, the Baked Bean State did not have gay marriage. When he left, it did.”

This statement is both unfair and inaccurate. Everyone knows that gay marriage was imposed on the citizens by the Mass. Supreme Court. Any attempt to place blame on Romney for this is misleading and dishonest.

As for the “Hillary disciple” as you call Deval, he’s actually supporting Barack Obama. Some disciple.

One more item from the unfair and innaccurate file,

“now transforming the Cradle of Liberty into an amalgam of the Soviet Union, Sodom and Las Vegas.”

Come on Gregg. Hardly a reasonable or accurate statement.

2. He’s that liberal?! He gave Massachusetts a socialist government health care plan entitled “Commonwealth Care” that some call Hillarycare as he was walking out the door. And, apparently he didn’t know it included abortion as a health benefit. Because by then, he had discovered abortion was “wrong.”

“Socialist government health care”? Hardly. I find it amazing that an admirer of Newt Gingrich would not see the obvious conservative qualities of the Romney healthcare plan. This is the type of innovative government thinking that energized the conservative rise to power. These days, the purity of the candidate and their ability to win the seal of approval from the right wing is more important than truly conservative positions on a whole host of issues, especially healthcare. The fact is if Republicans don’t lead in this area, the Dems will and it will be far worse. Here’s a nice reminder from Mitt,

“It’s a conservative idea,” says Romney, “insisting that individuals have responsibility for their own health care. I think it appeals to people on both sides of the aisle: insurance for everyone without a tax increase.”
Governor Romney, USA Today, July 5, 2005

This isn’t socialist government healthcare, this is what people, conservative people, want from the government,

Number of Mass. uninsured continues to decline

“As of Nov. 1, nearly 133,000 people out of 160,000 eligible were enrolled in Commonwealth Care, a program created by Massachusetts’ 2006 health care reform law in which the state subsidizes—in most cases completely—the health insurance premiums of low-income state residents.”

Edmund Haislmaier is a research fellow in the Center for Health Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation and an advisor to Romney when he put this plan together. He hits on a key point with regard to the conservative principles wihin Romney’s plan,

Finally, there is the element of Romney’s proposal that gives Pipes’s and many other conservatives the most trouble — the “personal responsibility” provisions, or what could be called an individual mandate to buy health insurance. Romney’s argument is that mandating coverage in the currently fragmented and overly expensive insurance market would be wrong and counterproductive. But, if the market is reorganized to make coverage universally available and portable, deregulated at least enough to make it affordable for the middle class, and subsidized enough to make it affordable for the low-income, then there are no more reasonable excuses for anyone not buying health insurance.

Furthermore, to allow people to go without health insurance, and then when they do fall ill expect someone else to pay the tab for their treatment is a de facto mandate on providers and taxpayers. Romney proposes to take that option off the table, leaving only two choices: Either buy insurance or pay for your own care. Not an unreasonable position, and one that is clearly consistent with conservative values.

Haislmaier and Sally Pipes, who you quoted in your article, had opposing op-ed’s published on NRO. I’ll leave it to the readers to decide who got the better of the arguement. Haislmaier’s pro-Romney take is here and Pipes anti-Romney piece is here.

And speaking of health, Mitt presided over the opening of the most corrupt and most expensive public works project in U.S. history – The Big Dig tunnel-bridge system. This project killed nearly a dozen people in the 48 months since it opened. When an immigrant woman was crushed to death by a cement-ceiling panel that fell on her as she traveled through one of the new tunnels, Mitt went on TV and said he would get to the bottom of this dangerous, deadly project. But he didn’t. Here was a public safety issue a conservative could have made a presidential-run-reputation on, exposing the Democrat corruption and fixing the problems. But he ignored it, preserving the public health menace for future victims. Instead, he took campaign contributions from international Big Dig contractors.

Another terribly unfair and innacurate statement. Sure, he “presided” over the opening of the most corrupt and expensive public works project in US History.” You conveniently leave out the fifteen year history of the project and the gross mismanagement of his Republican governors before him. The honest explanation is that Romney inhereted a disaster not of his making. It was in motion long before he rescused the Winter Olympics, let alone ran for governor. From a City Journal article blogged about at Pundit Review,

“Conceived in the 1970s and finished, more or less, in 2005, the Big Dig is modern America’s most ambitious urban-infrastructure project, spanning six presidents and seven governors”.”

“This project killed nearly a dozen people in the 48 months since it opened.”

No it didn’t. It killed one member of the public and an incredibly low number of three construction fatalities. If you are lumping in construction deaths, that is unfair to Romney, again. Even with those construction deaths included, the number is four,

“And though insurance tables had predicted 40 serious accidents during the project, the Big Dig suffered only a quarter of that total, and three construction deaths—showing how much things had changed since, say, the 1870s, when raising the Brooklyn Bridge took 27 lives.” –City Journal

You continue,

“Here was a public safety issue a conservative could have made a presidential-run-reputation on, exposing the Democrat corruption and fixing the problems. But he ignored it, preserving the public health menace for future victims.”

Actually the opposite of this statement is what happened. Mitt did more to change Turnpike Authority than any governor. After the accident, he took action and fired the chair and took the agency over. He didn’t ignore it. He was trying to change this long before the collapse. He was aggressive before and after the 2006 accident happened.

New England Republican remind us, “Romney has also been trying to merge the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority with the State Highway Department since he took office but the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature has refused to go along.”

I’d call that leadership, not just jumping in after a tragedy. He was there first, trying to break a corrupt, entrenched public works system, just like you said he should have been.

3. I thought he was pro-life? Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan says “no.” The plan covers abortion. What kind of Pro-lifer thinks abortion should be part of his health care plan? Romney signed this bill into law after he claims he had a discussion with an anonymous Harvard doctor wherein he discovered abortion was morally wrong.

Would it be too cynical to suggest the Harvard doctor was a PHD at the Kennedy School of Government who gave him a lot of computer printouts on Republican voters showing they don’t like abortion? Was it then he “discovered” abortion was wrong ( i.e. the wrong position for a conservative presidential candidate)?

Unlike Reagan who had a true turnaround on abortion, Romney has ping-ponged back and forth on this issue for years. As a 1994 U.S. Senate candidate, he said he had believed for nearly a quarter century that abortion should be “safe and legal.” Yet by 2001, the Salt Lake City Tribune quoted him as saying, “I do not wish to be labeled pro-choice.”

A year later, running for governor in Massachusetts, Romney was definitely Pro-choice and promised he would not touch any abortion law. During a candidate’s debate, he was so firmly Pro-choice, he renounced an endorsement from Massachusetts’ Citizens for Life.

But last year in South Carolina, a modern day miracle occurred. Romney declared, “I am firmly Pro-life…I was always for life.”

No denying his flip-flop on this issue. He is hardly alone to have switched for reasons political and otherwise. Reagan’s went from a labor leader and New Deal Democrat to conservative icon. As a governor, “Reagan signed a bill liberalizing abortion laws and, when faced with intractable budget shortfalls, raised taxes heavily.”

Romney did neither thing. In fact, when it came up during his time as governor, he made what you would consider the right decisions,

Vetoed emergency contraception for rape victims. (Jul 2005)
Vetoed stem cell research bill. (May 2005)

He legitimately deserves criticism on this issue and you are right to be skeptical. All I’m saying is that many before him have taken similar journey’s and when the life bills hit his desk, he acted as a pro-life politician should.

4. But he does stand for family values, right? If you think two guys getting married constitutes a family, then yes, he’s into family values.

Terribly unfair statement to Romney who has been a vocal opponent of gay marriage. He is a good, decent man and your language is unfair at best. Words matter and what you say about him is not just unfair, its demonstrably wrong.

Publicly, he was as normal and upstanding a family values guy as you’ll see. But privately, he seemed to be working for the gay agenda. When the Massachusetts’ Supreme Court imposed gay marriage on the citizens of the Commonwealth, Romney could have exercised a “bill of address” to impeach the activist judges. But he didn’t.

This “bill of address” that you hold up as the holy grail for overturning a Supreme Court decision is a last minute haymaker from your go-to-guy for Romney dirt, Brian Canamaker. He got exactly one legislator to sponsor this “bill of address”,

“The lone sponsor of the measure — Representative Emile J. Goguen, Democrat of Fitchburg — said he sees the “bill of address” as a tool to pressure members of the court to reconsider their landmark 4-3 decision or risk losing their judgeships. “I’m going to be in tomorrow to file the bill,” said Goguen, 70, who strongly opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions. “I’m going solo for now, but I will circulate it to all the legislators.”

It is ridiculous to give this dubious strategy any credibility.

He signed something he didn’t have to directing town clerks to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples or be fired. One Justice of the Peace Linda Gray Kelley did lose her job because of her religious views against gay marriage.

She lost her job alright, because she resigned. You infer that she lost her job because of Romney. Here’s her resignation letter, first paragraph,

“It is with my deepest regrets that I must submit my resignation as Justice of the Peace for the Commonwealth. You made it crystal clear Sunday at the JP conference that we are to follow the law, without waffling and avoidance of couples seeking same-sex marriages. In good conscience, I cannot agree to follow that directive. I am bound by the laws of God and the Catholic church.”

She resigned because her conscience and beliefs would not allow her to follow the law. Good for her. She’s a woman of integrity. To infer this is anything to do with Romney is again, unfair. He didn’t make the law. He fought it every step of the way.

Romney went even further however and directed his Department of Health to change the state marriage licenses to read “Party A” and “Party B” replacing “Husband” and “Wife.”Romney was under no legal obligation to do either of these things. Would a true family values governor do this?

He now claims to support a constitutional amendment to protect marriage. Yet in 2002 then governor Romney called a similar attempt to amend the Massachusetts’ Constitution “too extreme.”

Isn’t the rule of law important to conservatives? Directing state departments to follow new law hardly seems scandalous, even if he didn’t have to.

Again, wildly unfair. Romney fought against gay marriage all the way. Unlike abortion, where his conversion is a point of legitimate contention, to say that Mitt is part of pushing the gay agenda is ridiculous.

5. But he’s a fiscal conservative, right? When it comes to spending money, he is more liberal than Ted K.

Again, wildly unfair. One thing you never address is the environment Romney had to operate in as governor. MA is dominated by liberals.

He’s spent the gross national product of small nations on media, which accounts for all the good press he’s gotten. Ninety percent of voters may not want him, but 99 percent of the media loves him – even conservative talk radio show hosts.

Who running for president doesn’t spend a fortune on media? All of a sudden the liberal media we rip every week is in the bag for a Mormon Republican. Please. A few high profile conservative talk hosts support Romney, so what? Is it against the law? Are social conservatives the only real republicans? Sometimes I think conservatives would be happier with a smaller party.

Big spenders Hillary and Ted K praised the health care law signed by Romney. Coincidentally, it is quite similar to a plan unveiled by Hillary dubbed, “Healthy Choices.” Romney Care increases government mandates, regulations, costs and bureaucracy with less choice for consumers. The Congressional Budget Office noted that this level of government intervention and regulation was “unprecedented.”

Unprecedented – as in – even the out-of-control socialist Democrats hadn’t gone this far. Sally Pipes, of the Pacific Research Institute who reviewed Romney Care in a recent Wall St. Journal article said the governor’s plan was in “intensive care” right after birth. Only months after going into effect, the plan was costing Bay Staters $150 million more than the public was first told.

Premiums are nearly double what Romney promised. Keep in mind, Massachusetts already has the highest health care costs in the world. And Mitt increased them. Let’s connect the dots.

RomneyCare will take “Taxachusetts” into the 75 percent tax rate. That’s his fiscal legacy to the place American Democracy began. Imagine what Mitt could do as president.

You picked the 75% tax hike out of thin air, yes? Here’s the conservative Club for Growth’s assessment of Romney’s economic record,

“Governor Romney’s economic record contains a mixture of pro-growth accomplishments and some troublesome positions that beg to be explained,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “While his record on taxes, spending, and entitlement reform is flawed, it is, on balance, encouraging, especially given the liberal Massachusetts Legislature.”

The fiscal legacy he left was actually pretty good. Far better than it would have been if a real “liberal” was in office.

Club For Growth: Governor Romney “Imposed Much-Needed Fiscal Discipline On A Very Liberal Massachusetts Legislature.”

“Governor Romney’s economic record contains a mixture of pro-growth accomplishments and some troublesome positions that beg to be explained,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “While his record on taxes, spending, and entitlement reform is flawed, it is, on balance, encouraging, especially given the liberal Massachusetts Legislature.

Governor Romney Beat Back “Big-Tax Proposals” And Chose Instead “To Erase Deficits By Hacking Away At Spending.” “What attracted many of these economists to the Romney team was the former governor’s success, in a liberal state, of beating back big-tax proposals and instead choosing to erase deficits by hacking away at spending.” (Kimberley A. Strassel, Op-Ed, “Tax Talk,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/30/07)

In The Four Budgets He Signed, Governor Romney Used The Line-Item Veto Or Program Reduction Power In An Attempt To Cut Spending By Nearly $1 Billion.

Show me someone who has ever said these things about Ted Kennedy.

6. But he’ll elect conservative judges, right? Romney loves to preach passionate sermons against “judicial activism.” He promised to nominate strict conservative constructionists to the federal bench. The problem is, his record disagrees. The Boston Globe reports that as governor, Romney “passed over GOP lawyers for three quarters of the 36 judicial court vacancies he faced, instead tapping registered Democrats or Independents including two gay lawyers who have supported expanded same-sex rights.”

Romney’s Record on judges,

“As governor, Romney replaced regional judicial nominating committees criticized as politically motivated with a central commission that reviewed resumes without knowing the applicants’ names. Romney’s pick from the commission’s short list had to pass muster with a nine-member council dominated by Democrats.

Romney said last week that in Mass. he chose ”strict constructionist” lawyers who abide by the letter of the law. ”It wasn’t a matter of Democrat or Republican,” Romney said after the speech at Nova Southeastern University. “It was a matter of strict constructionist versus liberal.””

That seems like a reasonable answer to me. In Mass. a “Democrat” can mean many different things, from Reagan Democrat to McGovern Democrat.

History shows that even the best intention of apponting a certain judicial philosphy can backfire on a candiate. The question is what type of jurist are they looking for. Romney says strict constructionists. That’s more then you would ever get from a real liberal. In fact, that is exactly what conservatives say they want.

7. Are you saying he can’t be trusted? Ted K called him John Kerry. The term he used was “Multiple Choice Mitt,” i.e. Mitt takes numerous positions on issues. He’s for it, against it and – oh what the heck – he’s such a nice guy he agrees with both sides. When it comes to issues Ted is right, Mitt looks like John Kerry. The good thing is voters seem to understand Romney better than the media. A recent Pew Center Poll found only 12 percent of respondents thought of Mitt Romney when the word “honest” was presented to them-the lowest percentage of the four major Republican candidates.

For all you Iowa-New Hampshire-South Carolina gun owners, keep this in mind. Mitt is for and against the 2nd amendment. While campaigning in New Hampshire last April, he said to a man wearing an NRA hat that he was a “life long hunter.” Romney’s campaign quickly issued a retraction, admitting he’d only hunted twice in his life. He declared his love for Massachusetts’ fascistic gun laws and favors the Brady Law, which the NRA opposes. Perhaps the time will come when he “discovers” the second amendment is a good thing. But it can only happen during an election campaign.

You are basically accusing Mitt of practicing politics. Many people who consider themselves pro second amendment also see the necessity in certain prohibitions around gun firepower and gun ownership.

8. Well then, what’s all this about Mitt being the “pragmatic” Republican choice? Ah yes. Keep in mind, pragmatic means “what works.” Mitt has a voter approval rating down around that of the Pelosi congress, in spite of all the media’s acting as his press agent. Voters don’t trust him. The idea that he is the Hillary-slayer is at odds with his record, which…uh… has much in common with Hillary, in particular the gay-friendly, socialist health care stuff.

If pragmatic means “what works,” then what is it about Mitt that works? When most Americans wouldn’t vote for Mitt in spite of all the money he’s thrown out and all the media glorification, doesn’t that seem to be the opposite of pragmatism? Contrary to conservative talk radio common wisdom, Mitt is the un-pragmatic choice. If Mitt does to America what he did to the “Birthplace of American Democracy,” America will be in a nose-dive by 2012.

As I said at the top, I’m not supporting Mitt. I’m sure that somebody who is could do a better job that I have defending him. The point I’m trying to make with this exercise is that Mitt is not who you, unfailrly, portray him to be.