One of the good and bad things about primary seasons is we have the opportunity to address a whole host of issues. That is good for obvious reasons. The downside is it is a primary and the national media, at least, does not always encourage an extensive review of issues or records, policies, and philosophies. I would like to think we exist in part to be able to take a deep breath and explore these things a little deeper for a little longer now and again. That was my goal with my syndicated column this week, which revisits Mitt Romney as governor taking on a somewhat thankless fight over embryonic-stem-cell research and cloning. We want leaders who will take some initiative. Rick Santorum will courageously do what he can on issues that drive him — including, as we all know, dignity of human life issues — albeit prudently and with some pragmatism, based on his record. Mitt Romney rose to the occasion in 2005 as governor of Massachusetts when faced with a mess of a confusing issue, one bogged down with a fog of manipulation. This, too, is leadership. As George Bush knows too well, you cannot plan what you will have to confront once in office.
When Romney first approached conservative audiences with his conversion story, there was skepticism, a skepticism that dogs him to this day. But the way he talked about the destruction of human embryos in 2007 describes very well where we are as a people: “The Roe v. Wade mentality has so cheapened the value of human life that rational people saw human life as mere research material to be used, then destroyed. . . . [But] what some see as a mere clump of cells is actually a human life. Human life has identity. Human life has the capacity to love and be loved. Human life has a profound dignity, undiminished by age or infirmity.”
I don’t know which candidate will survive the Republican primary process. But we ignore at our peril existential questions about who we are and where we are going. And whether or not you fully believe Romney’s conversion story, his words in the last debate of 2011 present us with a challenge to do as he did.
The rest of it — “Mitt Romney’s Clone Wars – and Ours” — is here. It seems only a matter of justice to take a few to revisit that. And as I point out, for reasons beyond this presidential cycle.