ROMNEY AND ABORTION. Actions speak louder than words, and words speak louder than privately held thoughts. So absolutely no one should be outraged, or even mildly peeved, to learn that Governor Mitt Romney has allegedly been "faking" his support for abortion rights in Massachusetts.
"He's been a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly," Republican political consultant Michael Murphy told National Review, according to a cover profile coming out later today (Globe coverage here; Herald coverage here).
But another Republican, Ron Kaufman, is absolutely right when he says that he "spent a lot of hours on that campaign three years ago, and on this issue, the governor was focused, disciplined, and consistent that if elected governor, he wouldn't change one comma on the laws surrounding life. That was always his answer, and he's kept his word. He's not faking anything."
Kathryn Jean Lopez, writing for National Review Online, hopes that Romney's opposition to the state's embryonic-stem-cell bill may better represent his true feelings about pro-life issues. Perhaps it does. But again, so what? Romney has never threatened abortion rights in this state. Whether he would as a presidential candidate is another matter, and it's a question he'll have to answer.
Massachusetts Democratic Party spokeswoman Jane Lane tells the Globe, "It's disturbing when your closest political adviser admits you've been lying your entire political career." Yo, Jane: lying about what?
LET IT BE NOTED. By the way, not a shining day for ABC News's political dope sheet, The Note, which says this about the Globe's reporting on Murphy's weasely explanation that he was taken out of context: "Amazingly, the paper (along with the Boston Herald) fails to go back to the National Review reporter to see if the out-of-context explanation is accurate."
Hmmm ... The Note must have missed this, which comes toward the end of the Globe's story:
Jack Fowler, the National Review's associate publisher and a self-described fan of Romney's, said he interpreted Murphy's remark as an attempt to distinguish Romney from other Northeast Republicans who have tended to be fiscal conservatives but social liberals, especially on the abortion issue.
"I think this is some attempt to tell the folks in Louisiana and Arizona, 'Don't pigeonhole this guy with what you think of the rest of Northeast Republicans,'" Fowler said. "He's laid the gauntlet down on certain fights, fighting the good fight, and that's not to be taken unseriously. I like the guy."
No, Fowler didn't write the piece, but it sounds like the Globe's Raphael Lewis called NR looking for the writer, John Miller, and was put through to Fowler. What else is he supposed to do?
There's nothing in Noelle Straub's Herald piece to indicate whether she sought comment from NR, but I would Note that it's hard to know without asking her. Maybe she couldn't reach anyone.
This brings up an interesting ongoing issue about blogging. Most blogs - including Media Log, most of the time, anyway - deal with what's on the record, period. My philosophy is that if I determine I can't write about something without picking up the phone, then I save it for the print edition. (That doesn't mean I haven't occasionally blundered into situations where I should have made a call.)
In this case, The Note stands accused of failing to pick up the phone before criticizing Lewis and Straub for - well, failing to pick up the phone.
LET IT BE FURTHER NOTED. Does The Note have a thing for the Globe? Check this out, from May 13: "Correction: Boston Globe Pulitzer Prize winner Gareth Cook did indeed interview Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney about stem cells Wednesday. We implied he had not, and we regret the error."
YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP. "CDC Team Investigates an Outbreak of Obesity" - New York Times, 6/3/05
YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP II. "Bill Would Require Students to Volunteer" - Salem News, 6/2/05
Dan, I'm sure Jane Lane can speak for herself. But my answer to your question, "lying about what?" is that it's not as black and white as you're characterizing it, and Michael Murphy's remarks suggest direct and intentional dishonesty on Romney's part. As the Globe story points out, Romney pledged to keep abortion "safe and legal" when he ran against Ted Kennedy. Context: he was running for a Massachusetts seat in the Senate and needed to appeal to moderates and liberals here. Now the context has changed, and he's traveling to Red States and saying he's "in a different place" on abortion, and is "personally pro-life." Ok, so he has kept his pledge not to mess with abortion laws in Massachusetts. It still sounds to me like he's been dishonest and is hinting that his 1994 pledge to keep abortion safe and legal might not count if he is elected president. And to me, his opposition to the stem cell bill only makes it worse, as the rationale for opposition amongst his new audience, Red State christian conservatives, is the same as for opposing abortion: that "life" begins at conception, and thus a 5-day-old ball of undifferentiated stem cells frozen in a fertility clinic is a living human being with a personality and a soul and rights and feelings.
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