The Single-issue Voter: A birder’s look at Mitt Romney (R)
It’s that time again. As civic-minded individuals do, I’m oft interested in how the platforms of those running for president affect my life, that’s as a birder naturally. With so many candidates and elections still more than a year off I decided to do the work so you, dear reader(s), don’t have to. So here’s what I hope will be a regular look as those who would be birder-in-chief. Starting with the long-shots and working my way up so that you all will be prepared when the time comes to cast your ballot. This is the sixth of The Drinking Bird’s however many parts it takes series.
He’s the long-time frontrunner. The man running for president for the last six years. The once and future republican nomination for president and the immovable object to the rest of the field’s irresistible force. This is your Republican nominee friends. The others may make funny noises now and then, but the big money is behind Romney, and sooner or later the GOP primary voters are just going to have to hold their noses and take their Romney oil. The former governor of Massachusetts and seeming professional president runner-for has perhaps the most fascinating records of all of the contenders for the GOP nomination, because as governor of the Bay State, he had a pretty centrist environmental record. The sort of record that would be seen as “liberal” these days, so far to the right has the political center skewed in the last 30 years. In fact, back in the run-up to the 2008 election, when I looked then at the would-be presidents, I had this to say about old Mittingford Romney:
What’s so odd about all this is that as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney actually had a fair environmental record. He increased penalties and enforcement of the state’s anti-pollution laws, especially in response to the Buzzard Bay oil spill which impacted nearly 100 miles of Massachusetts coastline, killing over 400 seabirds and closing shellfish beds for a year. He teamed up with the EPA to provide beach water testing free of charge for over 60 communities. He regulated mercury emissions and even instigated a green communities initiative to encourage developers to use environmentally-friendly building techniques and smart growth development practices and make all that affordable for normal citizens. So what the hell, Mitt? Why isn’t any of this stuff on your national platform? You can’t even find it anywhere on your website.
What the hell, indeed. A quick jaunt over to this incarnation of his political website offers little more than the standard pablum about “increasing domestic production of energy” (never mind that US production is higher now than it’s been in nearly a decade) and “reducing the regulatory burden” (whatever that’s supposed to mean beyond reducing corporate culpability). The same complaining about green technology’s “failure in the marketplace” as if coal and oil and other traditional extractive industries don’t have the bejeesus subsidized out of them and everyone is operating on an even playing field. I do give Mittston points for at least mentioning renewable energy credits, even if it’s just in the context of focusing what little federal money he’d throw that direction in “basic research”, which, I don’t know what that means. Seems like we’re beyond that now, so that seems like a complete cop out to me. But the same could be said for the entire policy. Nothing but the same deluded thinking we’ve seen from the GOP on energy for the last couple decades and filled with half truths and outright lies. “The Obama Administration wages war against oil and coal“? A pathetic charge, indeed.
It’s hard to reconcile this apparently belligerent Mittsy with the Governor that came before, you may as well be talking about two separate politicians. It’s these sort of obvious contrasting positions that have dogged Romney this entire campaign, and is less a statement on where his true opinions lie and more at the collection of lunatics and zealots that make up the Repuplican Party anymore. Any sort of reasonable policy positions, be they of conservation or environmental interest or otherwise, have been swamped by an ever more centrist Democratic party. The only ones left are the true believers, and those are the nutty few that Romney has to appeal to. And since Romney is an entirely political animal, willing to do whatever it takes to get where he wants to be, by the grace of the wingnuts goes he.
And I don’t know what more to say. So I’ll just let Romney himself close it out with some talk about public protected lands:
Unless there’s a valid, and legitimate, and compelling governmental purpose, I don’t know why the government owns so much of this land. So I haven’t studied it, what the purpose is of the land, so I don’t want to say, “Oh, I’m about to hand it over.” But where government ownership of land is designed to satisfy, let’s say, the most extreme environmentalists, from keeping a population from developing their coal, their gold, their other resources for the benefit of the state, I would find that to be unacceptable.