The Corner

What’s the Opposite of Slippery?

David Weigel writes about the newspapers that endorsed Obama in 2008 but are endorsing Romney now. I think he’s a bit unfair to Romney in the article. He writes:

Most of these papers have this in common: They stop the clock on Romney’s “real” beliefs in 2006, and they restart it on Oct. 3. “He stated his unequivocal support for women’s contraception rights,” wrote the Quad-City Times, “knowing it would incense a huge number of Christian and Catholic voters.” This was a reference to a terrifically slippery Romney answer in the Hofstra debate: “I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not.” Before that debate, Romney had dramatically opposed the HHS rule that mandates contraceptive coverage in employer-run health care, telling audiences that it amounted to “an attack on religious freedom.” 

In that debate, Obama had said that Romney had “suggested that in fact employers should be able to make the decision as to whether or not a woman gets contraception through her insurance coverage.” In his next at-bat Romney made the remark Weigel quoted and also said, “And I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives. And — and the — and the president’s statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong.”

Romney did not restate his opposition to the HHS mandate, which is presumably why Weigel treats his comment as slippery. Watching at the time, I thought Romney was just trying to combat a misimpression that he worried people might have about his policy.

Weigel continues, “Florida Today told readers that Romney ‘showed support for women and gay people’ in the debates. This is true. He’s also pledged, to the National Organization for Marriage, to keep judges away from the bench if they don’t oppose gay nuptials.”

Follow the link. Romney didn’t say that judges had to “oppose gay nuptials,” let alone that they had to block them from being recognized by the government. He said that he wouldn’t appoint judges who believe that such recognition is constitutionally required. A judge could, presumably, believe that same-sex marriages should be legally recognized without believing that this policy preference is in the Constitution.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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