Politicians all need room to maneuver. Sometimes they have to take half a loaf or less and spin it as great. The Democrats just did on health insurance reform.
Sometimes they have to reverse themselves. Unlike Duhbya, as coached by Karl Rove, it is possible to learn something while in office (or in Duhbya's case, learn something anytime at all).
Compromise is what the Greens don't get - and especially supporters of the inflexibly perfect Ralph Nader. In democratic politics (heck, even in aristocratic politics), you don't get everything you asked for at the outset.
Democrats, on the other hand, get the necessity of compromise far too well. The insurance reform law they just passed (two cheers!) is a case in point. Had President Obama not started by compromising, we would have wound up with far better and more effective law, and it still would have received zero Republican votes.
For all the nasty things I say about the Bushists (and will continue to say), even Duhbya understood that you don't start negotiations by trying to choose a compromise that your adversary might accept. He'll just want to split the difference again in his favor.
The honest politicians have core convictions and reveal them to the voters. Sure, all pols, even the honest ones, confront from time to time the dirty job of trying to make a sow's ear into a silk purse with the right trimming and spinning. Cynical voters often conclude from this occupational hazard that all pols are insincere hacks whose only goal is to continue suckling at the public teat.
These cynical voters are not wrong about every pol.
Mitt Romney is a craven pol who is so insincere that even the Republican base, which generally shows ovine credulity whenever anyone says what they want to hear, could tell that Romney has only one principle - himself. He was pro-choice for Massachusetts. He was anti-abortion for America. He put on his new outrage like TV makeup. He was a resident of Utah for tax purposes. He lived in Massachusetts for political purposes. He loved his, ahem, home state until he had to vilify it to gain the approval of mouthbreathing yahoos on the national Republican campaign trail. He despised tax increases but raised every state government fee in sight.
Now he rails against the Democrats' health insurance reform:
Romney is taking a hard line against Obama's health care bill, and calling for repeal. "America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power," Romney said in a post at National Review. "President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation -- rather than bringing us together, ushering in a new kind of politics, and rising above raw partisanship, he has succumbed to the lowest denominator of incumbent power: justifying the means by extolling the ends."Romney does this despite the Democrats' plan's strong sibling resemblance to his very plan, enacted in Massachusetts. His nefarious spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, argues that that's different, "it was designed for Massachusetts and not the entire country." Well, yeah, that disposes of all the similarities.
Maybe they all do it. But many of them trim and spin in honest furtherance of the causes they advocated when they ran. Not Mitt Romney. He leaves you guessing what he actually believes, other than in Mitt. If that too-obvious fact kills his chances among the Republicans, it couldn't happen to a more deserving cipher in a suit.