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Another Reason Not to Trust Romney

It took almost three weeks, but tonight Romney conceded the obvious:

Mitt Romney, trying to distance himself from perhaps his most damaging campaign moment, said Thursday that his infamous “47 percent” remarks were “completely wrong.”

Romney shouldn’t get much credit for acknowledging what most people already knew several weeks ago, but he should get a little. One of the ongoing flaws in the Romney campaign is not just the tendency to make important errors, but its stubborn refusal to own up to those errors. The campaign has continued defending Romney’s blunders weeks or months later when a quick correction would have been far more effective in putting the issue to rest.

Of course, Romney is trying to make up for lost time and to repair damage that his 47% comments caused. The real question is: why did he wait until now? It would have been much easier to repudiate his comments from the video weeks ago and minimize the damage they have caused. Doing so now makes Romney seem as opportunistic as ever. It is only after the damage has been done and he realizes that the comments are dragging him down that he casts them aside. On almost every issue, Romney gives the impression that everything is negotiable, and his commitment at any given moment doesn’t mean much of anything. One week, he’s supposedly the scourge of government dependency, and the next he abandons that line of attack entirely. Romney demonstrates on an almost daily basis that he can’t be trusted. Even when he is correcting obvious mistakes, he gives people reason to doubt him.

There does seem to be one exception to all of this. Romney’s foreign policy views have been dreadfully consistent throughout his national career. Whether it is because he has felt compelled to adopt hawkish views to compensate for his compromises on other issues, or because a hawkish foreign policy is one thing he has supported for a long time, this is one area where he typically hasn’t tried to have things both ways. We can be fairly sure that his speech at VMI on Monday won’t include any similar admissions of error on his part, and there aren’t going to be any significant reversals on policy. Romney’s hawkish foreign policy views seem to be the only thing that he won’t sacrifice for the sake of political expediency.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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