A question for tonight’s VP debate

A question for tonight’s VP debate


I have no prediction about tonight’s vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and GOP nominee (and congressional nominee) Paul Ryan. I do have one question beforehand, and it’s whether Ryan will say anything that will shed light on Mitt Romney. Listened to closely, Ryan might say something–intentionally or otherwise–that will clarify Romney’s own positions, will widen the window onto a hypothetical Romney-Ryan administration.


Neo but not new

This comment should not be misconstrued to suggest that what Romney offers is entirely unclear. Broadly, Romney offers what the top echelon of the GOP always offers–reverse-Robin Hood at home, and contract-generating bloodthirsty incursions abroad. (If you think this summary sounds reductive or harsh, try to rebut it. Try to remember one time in the past two years that Romney has called for kindness and moderation abroad, has counseled restraint rather than intrusion, or has commended the president for boosting a more favorable view of America around the world.) The mere fact that the disgraced neo-cons and PNAC alumni left over from the Bush administration have gravitated to Romney should be clue enough.

For quick thumbnail illustration, try this short-short-short film, working title These Guys:


If you want more trillion-dollar wars and more trillion-dollar redistribution of wealth to Wall Street, less prosecution of mortgage fraud at home and less budgeting for embassy security abroad, Romney’s your man.


Talking tough is one thing, paying for embassy security another

Wars abroad, regression at home. End of story–except for the horrible specifics including cost, yet undisclosed by Romney; and except for the consequences.

But the clarity of the big picture does not illuminate the corner that is social policy. Ironically, even while Romney-Ryan social policy has been discussed and ventilated out of all proportion to what Romney and Ryan plan for this country and the globe, I for one have no prediction as to what Romney would actually do about abortion, if he made the White House.

This is not to be stubborn. I know that Romney has pandered to the right wing in every conceivable way, in every venue, on social matters. I also firmly believe that Romney’s flip-flopping on economic and fiscal matters will leave unaltered his bedrock rich-get-richer core. Thus the most recent flip-flop on abortion and birth control–Romney’s remarkable statement this week that he doesn’t know of any legislation (connected to him) that would change things–cannot be taken as an earnest of anything. It is certainly not a sign of true, bedrock moderation under all the foaming at the mouth. Someone whose bedrock is peaceable could not stomach all the blood-and-guts Romney has been spilling on the campaign trail, in either foreign policy or social policy.

That said, a prediction as to which way Romney would actually go on Roe v. Wade, in the Oval Office, is impossible. It all depends on what’s in it for him.

No matter how hard I try, I cannot imagine Romney’s standing up to defend fundamentalist anti-abortionists, if doing so took political courage. Likewise, I cannot imagine Romney’s standing up to defend women, if it took political courage. When has he ever done either one, if–again–it took political courage to do so?

Here is the only way to project what a chief executive Romney would do. What’s in it for him? What is the over-all deal? What deal does the anti-abortion/pro-choice/fill-in-the-blank position seal? Or sweeten?


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