Year 3, Month 6, Day 25: What Was It You Wanted, When You Were Kissing My Cheek?

Raise your hand if you think Mitt Romney has changed:

June 13–WASHINGTON — During his first 18 months as governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney spent considerable time hammering out a sweeping climate change plan to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

As staff briefed him on possible measures and environmentalists pressed him to act, Romney frequently repeated a central thought, people at those meetings said: That climate change is occurring, that the United States has the resources to handle its vast impact but that low-lying poor countries like Bangladesh would suffer greatly.

“It was like a mantra with him,” said a person who attended those meetings who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic. “His Cabinet members would look at him like, ‘What?’ He was the radical in the room.”

Before doing an about-face toward the end of his term as he began to prepare for his first run for president, Romney pushed to close old coal-fired plants, encourage the development of renewable energy and contain sprawl — steps similar to some President Obama has taken.

If Romney weren’t such a flaming asshole, I’d find that story reassuring. But he is such a flaming asshole, so I’m still scared. Sent June 14:

During his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney was distinguished for his readiness to be all things to all people. Given the Bay State’s high percentage of environmentally-conscious voters, it’s not surprising that Romney catered to their concerns. Now that his previous readiness to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change threatens to alienate him from the ultra-conservatives to whom he must appeal, he’s singing a different tune.

What this demonstrates is not that Romney is a closet environmentalist, but that science means nothing to him unless it serves his electoral ambitions. Climate-change denial is Mr. Romney’s current position of convenience; who knows how many contortions we’ll see over the next few months?

If Mr. Romney saw a house on fire, he’d take a public opinion poll before calling 911. The climate crisis is too crucial an issue to be subsumed by the political maneuvering of a hypocritical presidential aspirant.

Warren Senders

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