The Fourth Possible Romney

Last week, Jason Jones wrote a piece discussing Mitt Romney’s past pro-life (or pro-choice) political record.

Jones is certainly correct that Romney’s pro-life past is hazy at best. But there is an alternative option to the “The Three Possible Romneys” that Jones puts forth.  And it’s not simply “sitting this [election] out,” as Jones recommends.

Jones offers that Romney is either an Empty Vessel (a man with a pliable moral compass), a Manchurian Candidate (lying one way or another to gain office), or a Mercenary (agnostic on the issue of abortion).

There is a Fourth Possible Romney: Convert.

People convert. It happens all the time. I’m as big a cynic as the next guy, but I don’t find it impossible to believe that Romney sincerely changed his views on life issues.

But let’s say he is either an Empty Vessel, a Manchurian Candidate, or a Mercenary, he would still be a far, far better option in the general election than Barack Obama.

Consider the following.

This is President Obama’s long and depressing pro-abortion history. He is not merely a supporter of the pro-choice/pro –Planned Parenthood/pro-abortion platform, he is an activist. This is not just a case of “following the will of the people.” It is undeniable activism.

Romney, on the other hand, was recently pro-choice and has a checkered past on the issue.  But he has changed his stance, which means one of two things: conversion or political machinations. Obviously, it would be better if it were conversion, but even if it were merely a political power play by Romney, he would have to stick his guns or he would be run out of town.

Whatever Romney is, one thing he is not is an abortion activist. And Obama, more than anything else, is an abortion activist.

As a Catholic, you can make a very educated and considered bet that Romney will, at the very least, keep the status quo on abortion and other life issues in this country. Given his recent pro-life record and platform that is heavily peppered with pro-life stances, he will likely go beyond that. Still, at the very least, the issue will remain static under Romney. And that is far, far better than electing an avowed abortion activist, who has already caused so much damage, to a second term.

We need positive change, to be sure, when it comes to abortion in this country. But we also need to stop the bleeding. Romney will, if nothing else, stop the bleeding. And that is a good first step. It is certainly better than another four years of the active promotion of abortion, Planned Parenthood, and contraception.

If your conscience tells you that Romney is bad news and you just can’t vote for him, then by all means, don’t. Not only is it well within your rights, it’s your moral obligation.

But the issue is not as simple as Jones presents it. A vote for no one, is one less vote Obama has to overcome.

Is Romney the most pro-life GOP candidate? No. Is he more pro-life than Barack Obama? Absolutely. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. And, personally, I’m not going to vote for Romney in the primary. That’s where Jones’s argument makes sense. Romney has a history of supporting big government. And his pro-life stance is not as solid as some of the other GOP candidates.

There’s a lot of ground to be made up in the abortion wars. And there are better candidates than Romney to take up the pro-life banner. For that, and other reasons, he won’t be getting my primary vote.

But we should be careful before staying home on election day if Romney gets the nomination. Given the choice to vote for Romney, Obama, or no one, Romney will get my vote.

I hope it doesn’t come to that, but Barack Obama is such a menace to the pro-life cause that anything less would be a significant improvement.

With Romney, at worst, you’re getting someone who either doesn’t care or doesn’t know what he thinks. One thing he knows for certain, however, is what his base thinks. If he’s really only angling for political power, he knows better than anyone that it would be political suicide to start promoting the pro-abortion cause once in office.

At best, he’s a true convert. It’s not unheard of. There was once a politician who was pro-choice and later became a champion of life. His name was Ronald Reagan. You’ve probably heard of him. I think he has a stained –glass window at the Republican National Headquarters.

Romney’s not Ronald Reagan, of course. But he’s also not an abortion activist, like Obama. If Romney comes out of the Republican primary with the nomination, Catholics need to think long and hard before dismissing him. Even if we can only halt the pro-abortion movement’s momentum and catch our breaths, it will be better than four more years of anti-life, anti-Catholic legislation.


After a brief career restoring timber-framed barns, Christian Tappe worked as an editor for Regnery and ISI Books. He is currently Editor of Saint Benedict Press/TAN Books in Charlotte, NC.

  • RK

    Catholics never got the memo that abortion doesn’t matter in politics any more. During each election there is much gnashing of teeth by Catholics and it primarily has to do with abortion. Republican strategists understand this and, after mocking the pro life voters privately, they arrange for a few well timed, vaguely pro life comments by their candidate. This is all that’s needed to secure the pro life vote. It’s like setting up the bowling pins and then knocking them down. The Romney team understands this as well as anybody.

    Catholics always vote fore whoever the “lesser of two evils” candidate is and that’s always the Republican in a presidential election. The predictability only highlights the malleability of the pro life vote.

    It’s been almost forty years since Roe vs. Wade was passed and all pro lifers really have to show for their ill conceived “strategy” is a few “pro life” supreme court appointments. However, because of their explicit adherence to stare decisis,  none of those appointees will ever reverse Roe.

    Despite having the majority in Congress for most of the past forty years pro lifers have little to show for their efforts. Pro life strategy has failed. If Catholics were smart they’d realize that the “lesser of two evils” is still evil and not good enough.

    The solution is passing the House Human Life amendment which defines life as beginning at conception and returns the abortion issue to the states. Lives will be saved and abortion will no longer be a political football that DC hacks use to manipulate pro lifers.

    • L E Gabriel Smith

      Could we have done better by voting ‘pro-choice’ all these years? 

      We are called to be faithful, not successful. 

      • RK

        Could we have done better by voting ‘pro-choice’ all these years?

        It wouldn’t have mattered.

    • William Edmund Fahey

      “Catholics never got the memo.”  Indeed.  Catholics are particularly obtuse when it comes to memos.   They failed to get the memos issues for the first three centuries in the Mediterranean world, the ones that said pluralism and paganism were part of the unchangeable culture of the Roman Empire.  They failed to get the memo called the Act of Supremacy, which said the Henry VIII and his Parliament had designed the dream relationship between the Church and the Government—old John Fisher and Thomas More for all their legal and political skills missed the import of that memo.  The Memo issued in 1691 by the government in Boston that granted in the area “the liberty of conscience to all… except Papists” is still unknown to Roman Catholics.  German Catholics missed out on the Kulturkampf memo.  From 1860 onward Mexican Catholics missed out on the memos issued on both side of the Rio Grande about the irrelevancy of the Church.  Polish Catholics failed to look at memos from the 1940s onward about the supremacy of Socialism and Communism. The examples can be multiplied.  Indeed, History since the Incarnation, seems to be one long defeat.  In all these instances (and many more) Catholics were rather clumsy with finding a winning strategy, it would seem.  Catholics really are quite bad at short-term strategies, pragmatic results-driven actions, and winning political fights.  Why do they persist?  Do they ever win?

      • RK

        Thomas More got the memo.  More didn’t romanticize the circumstances he faced. He knew his
        enemy, carefully considered his choices and courageously chose the option
        he needed to. Today Catholics are still waiting for a More who, when he arrives, will ask why we put our faith in political party that has effectively exploited and marginalized us. Pro lifers have been romanticizing their
        righteous battle or too long and it’s proven to be a counter-productive

        The three stooges (Romney, Santorum, Gingrich) utilize the
        self destructive “lesser of two evils” mantra just like their GOP
        predecessors (Reagan, Bush, Dole, BushII, McCain, etc.) did. Voting for
        these charlatans is a fool’s game. Let’s have the wit and courage of
        More to recognize that unless we change our approach the enemy is us.

        • William Edmund Fahey

          RK, I think that we agree on much concerning the current political landscape.   Yet Thomas More and others in the Church’s history, stayed engaged with corrupt stooges until the bitter end.  They did not compromise their own beliefs in so doing.  I would love to know what you see as the alternative strategy.  We are in need of broadening our range of possibilities at this moment.  Perhaps rather than posting comments, you would entertain submitting an article of your own which shares the vision?

          • RK

            I’ve sent you an email.

            • Mark

              “I would love to know what you see as the alternative strategy.” – William

              “I’ve sent you an email.” – RK

              Oh, c’mon RK, we’ve been waiting years for you to actually post something constructive.. don’t let us down.


              • RK

                Mark lives! I thought you had disappeared into the neo-con drain along with Bachman, Perry, Pawlenty (and soon–Santorum) and the other arm chair tough guys who are bound and determined to overcompensate for America’s pending financial collapse by bombing the Middle East into oblivion.

                • Mark

                  Still waiting.

            • William Edmund Fahey

              RK.  I am still awaiting the email.

              • RK

                William, I sent an email to the ‘Contact’ page for this site. Is there a more effective way to email?

    • Ronnielester

      And the repeal of PBA, too. Don’t forget that. Also: many, many life-protecting laws. Several abortion factories stopped committing abortions after court losses last year in Arizona, Missouri, Louisiana.

      Also Catholics went Obama 52-48 percent in 2008. We got some some obvious work to do in our own house.

  • William Edmund Fahey

    Mr. Tappe is getting closer to revealing his candidate…

  • Newyorkcatholic

    Mitt Romney is on a mission to decentralize power out of Washington and back into the states. He will succeed, and the “culture war” will then be fought between “red” christianized constitutionalist states and “blue” secularist ones.  You will have about 25 states that embrace traditional christian/catholic values and run governments in line with the U.S. Constitution. You will have about 10 to 12 uber liberal states, and the rest will be in a gridlock between left and right.

    For sure, Washington will be neutered of its coercion power. That’s what Romney is going to do if elected.

    • Marchmaine

       NYCatholic, I marvel at your hope.

      • Newyorkcatholic

        Not hope. Knowledge.

        • Marchmaine

           You had me at hope…(and lost me at knowledge).

      • Newyorkcatholic

        Romney is a devout states’ rights guy, and he has the explicit backing of  the leaders of the most conservative state governments that are aggressively fighting Washington DC  and Obamacare. 

        Romney and the red state governments are working on the same state-based agenda to get Washington out of picture and let states handle all these matters. It’s a giant decentralization project, and it will work as I have described.  He will break up Washington’s attempted monopoly on power and that power will shift to state governments.

        Romney will immediately neutralize the worst federal abuses (laws/programs) by executive orders, and he will  permit red states to aggressively legislate against DC mandates on Obamacare, border security, personhood/ultrasound laws, voter fraud, welfare reform, forced unionization, and much more.

    • Ronnielester

      No one person has that much power to do all that.

      • Newyorkcatholic

        Yes he does have that power. Romney will halt Obamacare on day one via presidential wavers to states. That shuts down Obamacare, with all its dictatorial mandates, in a 24-hour period. Then, Romney will end all Dept. of Justice federal lawsuits being waged against red states that are passing laws against Washington mandates (on health care, immigration, voter ID, medicare, school choice, unionization, etc.)

        So, by halting President Obama’s assault on state governments and promoting the red state governments who are aggressively fighting Washington mandates, Romney ensures that the states, not Washington, will be the chief deciders of America’s most pressing and contentious issues. 

        If you haven’t seen yet, the red state governments are presently outlawing Obamacare, forced unionization, Big Abortion industry, the public school monopoly, open borders,  impositions against religious freedom, and much more. Obama is aggressively suing these states on all these fronts.

        Watch and learn.

  • Newyorkcatholic

    Mitt has done what other conservatives in Blue states do. They run as “fiscal conservatives” and don’t attempt to directly impact “social issues.” That is the only way for conservatives to hold office in blue states, and so they pick their winning conservative issue (lower taxes, fighting crime) and  let that be their contribution. This is what Romney did, and it’s what Giuliani did in NYC as mayor. It’s what Chris Christie is currently doing in New Jersey. There is no other option for conservatives living in super blue states. 

    And by the way, Gov. Christie will tell you that being super fiscally conservative is nearly equal to being socially conservative, for slashing government programs across the board hits the abortion industry very hard.  In New Jersey, Planned Parenthood got caught in the “net” of across the board cuts in government spending. They lost their taxpayer funding. It was a huge deal. And Christie never would have been able to attack Planned Parenthood funding if he had made it an explicit campaign agenda item.

    In blue states, “fiscal conservatism” can closely equate to “social conservatism.” All liberalism requires massive taxpayer subsidies. Cut the subsidies and you cut down secularist liberalism.

    • Ronnielester

      Correction: that’s the only way Republicans hold office in the Northeast. Or better put — it’s how RINOs get elected in the NE and other blue states.

      • Newyorkcatholic

        Romney is not a RINO. He is a states’ rights conservative limited by political realities in the Northeast.

  • Ronnielester

    Last year Hugh Hewitt asked Romney about abortion. Romney said it’s a divisive issue and we don’t need to focus on it. That speaks volumes.

  • Kodak225

    Could it be that by demanding a Federal solution to abortion the pro-life movement has inadvertently given politicians an easy out on the issue? A politician can be pro-life for decades and not accomplish a single thing toward actually ending abortion. 

    We need a new strategy that focuses on accomplishing a clearly articulated agenda, and an end state that can be realized and recognized. Send this issue back to the states where the legislators are our neighbors and we can affect some real change.

  • Morash

    I will not vote if Rodney is the one running.   Anyone who can believe in someone that put his head in a hat and came up with this ridiculous religion hasn’t got much sense.  I never have trusted a Mormon nor will ever trust anything they say.  They say what you want to hear then turn around and do th opposite.   If you want Obama to win just put Robney for the Repuulicans. 

  • Carl

    Unfortunately the first three Romeys are provable, the fourth is a hypothetical.

  • Charlemagne

    I disagree with the belief that Romney is worthy of a serious catholic’s vote. If he is a Manchurian types of candidate he can be reprogrammed. If he is a mercenary he’ll dance a new tune as soon as the piper changes hands. The old adage about power corrupting seems particularly relevant when talking about a mercenary.

  • Jrakhurst

    Excellent points, Christian.  I was actually considering not voting, but from this article alone I think I will change my decision.