Steve works quickly. Not too long after I posted his message, and my response, he sent along the following:
David: Thanks for posting my piece. Here my response to your response. Can you post this?:
Very good points my friend, but you have made some errors here, both in logic and in fact. The Budget for the Governor’s Commission on Gay And Lesbian Affairs was doubled by Romney from 2005 to 2006. The head of this Commission, Kathleen Henry, told the press:
“The fact that he doubled last year’s [proposed budge allocation] this year is huge to us. It’s really huge. Its say to us clearly that he get the service of what it really is.”
Then you must be confused regarding the second part of your point. The legislature created their own Gay and Lesbian Commission the following year specifically to replace the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Affairs, thereby allowing the Governor to abolish his Commission. But this had everything to do with a power grab by the legislature, not some heroic action by Romney.
The idea that Romney didn’t know how extreme this Commission was doesn’t hold water. The Commissioners who oversaw this agency are homosexual activists appointed by him and despite requests from pro-family groups, he refused to put any pro-family or ex-homosexual leaders on this Commission. Then, at the Commission’s request, Romney repeatedly issued State proclamations honoring Gay Pride Day, complete with gay dances featuring young boys dressed in drag mingling with overjoyed adult homosexuals (there are photos of this on the www.massresistance.com website).
You have to live in a cave to not know what these wackos were up to. Finally, there were a number of high profile incidents involving parents challenging the public school system over the blatant gay propaganda that Romney’s Commission was engaged in. These incidents received lots of media coverage. Everyone knew what this Commission was up to. Romney had the power to put restrictions on the Commission but never did.
Yes, Romney did inherit this Commission but he had the power to A) Abolish it, B) Put pro-family Commissioners on it or C) Place restrictions on what it could do inside the schools, but, despite pleas from the pro-family community, he choose to do none of these. He basically gave free reign the America’s more aggressive pro-homosexual government agency. That’s inexcusable.
On the judge issue, it is somewhat absurd to say that Romney didn’t do anything wrong because the courts he appointed these liberal judges to only focus on public safety issues. First of all, since when are liberal Democrats hard core on crime? I will be willing to bet that many of the liberals he’s appointed will be overly concerned with “criminal rights,” as all liberals are.
But the more important point is that by appointing these dozens of liberals to the bench, Romney has advanced their careers since later on they may end up being nominated to a Federal judgeship where they will do even more damage. Or they will use their visibility to later run for the legislature, or Congress. You argument is like saying it’s ok for conservatives to vote for a liberal gay activist for Mayor because the Mayor’s job won’t really involve gay rights issues. But that same Mayor will then use that seat to run for higher office down the road. In the culture war we find ourselves in, we should not do anything to advance the careers of liberals no matter what. You never give your enemies a free pass.
Aside from that, why is it that with the dozens of appointments Romney made we’re having a hard time finding ONE conservative Republican? We’re still looking but we may have to hire a detective. If Romney has any inkling of what it means to be a conservative, don’t you think he would have appointed some conservatives? There must be a token one somewhere but why are we even debating this? If we have to search long and hard for evidence that Romney appointed a conservative, then the question of if conservatives should support this man is now resolved.
Then, of course, aside form his liberal judicial appointees, you will still need to defend why Romney appointed dozens of high profile homosexual activists to cabinet and agency positions throughout his administration. People like Daniel Grabauskas, Patrick Guerreiro, Mark Gosko, Mitchell Adams, John Wagner, and many others. Again, this is NOT the track record of a conservative.
My response: Before I get into the substance of Steve’s message, let me first note the truly interesting irony of these exchanges (and of MassResistance’s heated response to Romney)–there is almost no single group that despises the Governor more in Massachusetts than the radical homosexual activist community. And yet, one of the primary criticisms of the Governor from social conservatives is that he was allegedly insufficiently opposed to that same community. This observation does not address Steve’s points above, but I find it interesting nonetheless.
Regarding Steve’s first point on the funding levels for the Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, I think we are seeing the same set of facts and reading them different ways. You can read the Globe‘s convoluted account account of the Commission’s funding here.
As near as I can tell, I think we are both right. Steve says that the Governor “doubled” the budget for the Commission, yet the Commission appears to have been funded for $250,000 in 2005 and again for $250,000 in 2006. So what happened? It looks like the Governor’s budget request for 2005 was only $125,000, which the legislature must have increased to $250,000. In 2006, the Governor’s request was for $250,000 (hence, the “doubling” comment), and the legislature sought $175,000 on top of the Governor’s request. The Governor vetoed this proposed increase. So the Commission’s actual budget allocation remained static, the Governor did reign in the legislature, but he also did propose an increase in 2006. Clear as mud?
As for the existence of the Commission itself, let’s think a bit about context. When the Governor threatened to end the Commission because of its bad acts, it became clear from the resulting outcry that the legislature would make sure that the Governor’s action would be ineffectual (because the legislature had the power to create its own commission–free from any gubernatorial influence). Because it was soon clear that a commission was going to exist in some form, the question became: Who would control that commission? Faced with that reality, it is logical for the Governor to then attempt to maintain some modicum of control by forestalling legislative action and preserving “his” Commission. When the legislature acted anyway, “his” Commission became entirely superfluous and was abolished.
This tale is even muddier than the funding story, but in all the back-and-forth of legislative and administrative manuevering, we shouldn’t lose sight of one crystal clear reality: When the radical left dominates a legislature, a governor’s real-world options narrow considerably. While we can say that the Governor could have instantly abolished the Commission or that he could have appointed pro-family commissioners, that is true in theory, but in the realpolitik world of leftist Massachusetts, such an action would have been almost entirely useless. As the legislature later made quite clear, it was preserving a radical Commission no matter what.
However, I will agree with Steve that the Commission should have been abolished. But I won’t concede that the failure to abolish it until this year somehow puts the Governor’s conservative credentials in doubt. I wasn’t on the ground in Massachusetts and don’t know what kind of consequences would have flowed from that kind of decision. Would it have spent so much of the Governor’s political capital that he would have been less able to respond as effectively as he did to the much more important same-sex marriage controversy? What would such a decision have done to his ability to create coalitions to address hugely pressing fiscal and healthcare concerns? I just don’t know. The simple truth is, when you are governor of such a relentlessly leftist state (to show how leftist, one need only note that previous Republican governors had given more than a million dollars annually to the Commission), you must pick your battles.
But let’s back up a bit from all of this. Does the existence of that inherited commission make the Governor’s actions regarding same-sex marriage, fetal stem cell research, religious liberty, or abortion somehow irrelevant or less meaningful? Is a governor of a liberal state with a radically left legislature only a “real” conservative if he immediately begins a search and destroy operation against any vestiges (no matter how small) of radical homosexual activism within the state bureaucracy? Does Steve think that because Governor Romney inherited that Commission that he would create one at the federal level if he were president?
Regarding judges, while Steve raises some good points about the importance of conservatives even at the state trial court level, Steve doesn’t bring any new evidence that Romney dropped the ball. Essentially, Steve argues that Romney could and should have done better. I think he did as well as he could. The conduct of Romney’s appointed judges over time (especially as compared to other nominees from other administrations) will tell more about who wins that debate than anything we can say now.
I think this debate begins to raise the question of what it means to be a “true” social conservative. Take, for example, the Governor’s appointment of several individuals engaged in homosexual behavior to state jobs. The Governor believes (and I agree with him), that you should hire the best-qualified person for a state job–and a person’s self-professed sexual identity should not disqualify them. It is the left that all too often hires and fires on the basis of identity, while we conservatives should hire and fire on the basis of skill and merit. Ironically, any effort to purge individuals engaged in homosexual behavior from government (or to deny them the opportunity to advance when they are the best qualified person for the job), would make cries for nondiscrimination statutes like ENDA absolutely irresistable.
And while we are on the topic of true social conservatism, let’s all remember that this race is not being run in a vacuum. While we spend time discussing funding levels for youth commissions, we know–without having to read any tea leaves–that John McCain opposes a federal marriage amendment and is on the wrong side of the fetal stem cell issue. (It also seems that he views religious conservatives with real contempt). We know that Rudy opposes the partial birth abortion ban. We also know that even Sam Brownback–a guy with unquestioned social conservative credentials but many other political weaknesses–has changed his position on abortion.
There is no such thing as the perfect candidate any more than there is any such thing as the perfect person. I love Ronald Reagan more than any other political leader in my lifetime (except perhaps Margaret Thatcher), but he made horrible choices on abortion legislation when he was governor of California, and the arms-for-hostages deals and his retreat from Beirut after the Marine barracks bombing were black marks on his presidency.
I respect and admire our current president deeply, and I believe in the choices that George Bush has made regarding the War on Terror generally and Iraq and Afghanistan specifically so much that I joined the U.S. Army Reserves last year. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t regret what’s happened to our nation’s budget or lament the President’s real limitations as a public advocate for his own ideas and positions.
When I survey the 2008 field, I see a collection of human beings–all with flaws, some with more qualities than others–but the bottom line is that in Mitt Romney I see a person of real integrity who has the right answers to the tough questions in fiscal policy, foreign policy, healthcare, and–yes–life and the family. I truly think that as this race progresses–and as we are introduced to the reality of the other people in this race–Steve and I will end up allies in the fight for the White House.
Thanks, Steve, for your response. I hope our readers have profited from the exchange.