There’s a lot of chatter about the new word debuted by Obama today — “Romnesia” — which is meant to describe Mitt’s tendency to forget about, contradict or evade his own positions on a host of issues. Here’s the “Romnesia” riff Obama delivered in Virginia today:
Obama runs through Mitt’s “Romnesia” on a range of issues — equal
pay, contraception, abortion, tax cuts for the rich, etc. — and then
ends on a joke. He says the good news is that Mitt’s “Romnesia” can be
cured — thanks to Obamacare, which guarantees coverage to people with
Republicans are mocking the new coinage, claiming it reveals — along
with the Big Bird hit — the superficiality of the Obama campaign. But
there’s actually a serious point to be made about this. The “Romnesia”
riff is all about resolving the strategic dilemma the Obama campaign has
faced when portraying Romney as alternately a flip flopper and an
There was never any real contradiction there, despite pundit claims
to the contrary. Romney held extreme positions to get through the
primary, then flip flopped away from them to get through the general
election, but can be expected as president to honor the extreme
positions he originally took, since his base won’t let him do otherwise.
There’s nothing contradictory in pointing all that out. However,
painting Romney as a flip flopper does risk driving home the idea that
Romney never really believed in the exreme positions he adopted and is a moderate at heart.
The new “Romnesia” riff can be seen as an answer to this. There’s no
need to choose between “extremist” and “flip flopper.” Romney is simply
This Romney-is-a-weasel message seems heavily geared towards women.
It’s all about telling them Romney can’t be trusted on the issues that
matter to them, that he’ll say whatever he has to say about them to
advance his own ambitions. He’s weaseling out of his previously held
extreme positions, but he’ll still be beholden to the folks who expected
him to hold those positions in the first place, and in any case,
there’s no way of knowing what he really believes.
Romney’s performance on women’s issues has been particularly ripe for this treatment. There’s the ongoing inability of Romney’s campaign to decide
whether he would have signed the Lily Ledbetter Act — even though he
claims he supports equal pay in principle. There’s his declaration
during the primary that he would have been “delighted” to sign a federal
ban on all abortions — even though he’s now running ads designed to
soften his abortion stance.
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