How Severely Conservative is Mitt Romney?

If you have to ask…

Mitt Romney is so severely conservative that he apologized to Dick Cheney BEFORE he asked the former VP to shoot him in the face. He asks the Catholic Church for permission before he neuters his dog (but not before he puts his dog on the roof of his car). Mitt Romney is so severely conservative doesn’t even remember who was President from 2001-2009. He even once tried to shake Terri Schiavo awake with his own two hands.

Yep, months into the GOP primary Mitt Romney is desperately trying to prove two things: he’s a conservative and he was born in Michigan.

Remember when Ronald Reagan gave his big “I am a conservative” speech?

No? Because it never happened. Though Reagan expanded abortion rights and raised taxes as governor of California, no one ever questioned if he was a conservative because he never questioned it—and he had a record of opposing Medicare and communism and all the conservative tropes of his time.

Mitt Romney doth protest too much. At his CPAC speech Friday, he used the word conservative about 25 times. Scott Walker, who has become the Pixar bad guy who represents conservatism, didn’t use the word once.  Why is Mitt so desperate to define himself as conservative?

Because he knows the truth. He knows that as businessman he relied on government bailouts and loopholes. As the savior of the Olympics, he needed government money to make it work. And as governor, his signature accomplishment is what Frank Luntz would call a “government takeover” of health care.

Don’t miss the Obama’s campaign role in this framing.

Lee Atwater famously recognized that only one Democrat could pose a serious challenge to George H.W. Bush’s re-election, Bill Clinton. And from the moment Bush was elected he planned to shut Clinton down. But Atwater got sick and couldn’t complete his mission.

The Obama team saw Romney and Jon Huntsman as the only serious challengers in 2012. They offered Huntsman a job he was beautifully suited for, and they took Mitt Romney’s signature progressive accomplishment and made it their own—right down the free birth control coverage, even for employees of religious organizations.

That’s severely beautiful stuff.

CC image by MittRomneys

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