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A President Romney might be OK, right?

Michael Kinsley

Publication: The Day

Published October 14. 2012 4:00AM

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not hoping for this or expecting it, but maybe it wouldn't be the end of the world if Mitt Romney became president.

Never in my life have I supported a Republican for president, and I don't intend to start now. I'm voting for Obama, and I urge you to do the same.

I don't even really understand the intense disappointment many liberals seem to feel about the president's first term. For heaven's sake, with the Affordable Care Act, he crossed off what had been the top item on the liberal "to do" list for decades.

President Obama navigated us through the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression in a way that (in my opinion) deserves a B+. He didn't get us into any wars, and there were no major terrorist episodes on his watch. That, to me, seems like a pretty good record.

True, Obama added $4 trillion to the national debt. But that was a conscious exercise in Keynesian demand stimulation, not a careless waste of taxpayer dollars. You can argue that it was a mistake. But a smaller deficit - i.e., a smaller stimulus - would hardly have created more jobs.

Obama has also been a disappointment to some liberals for his failure to continue inspiring them after the thrill of his election had passed. At the same time, he has disappointed others by his surprising lack of interest in the details of legislation. He is not a policy wonk.

None of this is close to being enough to make me vote for Romney. But I'm not quite feeling that fear of disaster for the country that has colored and energized my opinion of the Republican candidates in most of the presidential elections of my voting life: Nixon, Reagan, Bush Senior, Dole, Bush Junior.

Whether Romney belongs on the unthinkable list depends on how big a liar he is: The bigger the liar, the more acceptable he would be.

If he has been telling the truth about his beliefs and intentions for the past year or so, he's plainly unacceptable. But if he has been faking it - if he's actually the classic moderate Republican business man we suspect and not the conservative zealot he plays on TV - then it wouldn't be the end of the world if he won.

"Not the end of the world" is not much of an endorsement, and not meant to be. And even this depends on Romney taking out that Etch-A-Sketch and reinventing himself yet again (first from moderate businessman to conservative zealot, then from conservative zealot back to moderate businessman).

He may feel he has to prove that he wasn't bluffing in his position on abortion and other social issues. But he already is reverting to a more moderate stance on economic issues and taxes. His tax plan, he says now, might involve a ceiling on deductions for the rich that is lower than his ceiling on deductions for the middle class.

How would a moderate Romney govern? The former management consultant might see governing as a series of concrete problems to be solved. And, ideology aside, he might even be good at it. It might be a good time for Democrats to be out of office and able to rest and rethink. In fact, it might be a good time for anybody to be out of office, if the economy tanks or terrorists attack or the weather offers an especially copious banquet of fires, floods, droughts and tornadoes. In short, maybe a President Romney wouldn't be so terrible.

(Pause for reflection.)

No, it would be pretty terrible. Vote for Obama.

News by Town

Most Recent Poll
Mitt Romney and other conservatives have called for the end of government subsidies to public broadcasting. Do you think tax dollars should go to PBS and NPR?
Yes, it's a public service that enriches our lives and deepens our understanding of issues.
19%
Yes, it's a minuscule fraction of our budget. This is a silly conservative talking point, not a real issue.
27%
No, my tax dollars shouldn't go to paying the salaries of liberals at NPR and PBS.
18%
No, I love public broadcasting but I think these organizations are capable of supporting themselves.
36%
Number of votes: 1184

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