The most active, often eloquent, and judgmental of our ex-presidents—Jimmy Carter—explains why he would be comfortable with President Mitt Romney:
“I’d rather have a Democrat but I would be comfortable,” the former president told MSNBC in a segment aired Wednesday. “I think Romney has shown in the past, in his previous years as a moderate or progressive… that he was fairly competent as a governor and also running the Olympics as you know.”
Carter went on to compliment Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, as “a good solid family man and so forth.” And although he said Romney has taken some “extreme right-wing positions” in order to win the GOP primary, he suggested that the former Massachusetts governor is likely something of centrist at heart.
“What he’ll do in the general election, what he’ll do as president I think is different,” Carter said.
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Carter’s judgments, if true, aren’t exactly good news for conservatives, who voted for this or that ”not-Romney” in the primaries because they didn’t believe Mitt is authentically one of them. Jimmy reads Mitt's heart and finds moderation, centrism, and even progressivism there.
Carter, a good and faithful family guy himself, reminds us that both Obama and Romney are distinguished by being fine husbands and fathers and persons of unquestionable personal decency.
He also reminds us that Romney has proven to be at least “fairly competent” and flexible in his previous executive positions. He could easily have added that Romney speaks with authority and detailed mastery of public policy. When even the legendary President Reagan spoke off script, Republicans were forced to cringe on occasion. And the same is true, of course, with either President Bush. With Romney, the cringe factor is mighty low (although occasionally he displays a tonedeafness to the downsides of seeming too complacent about being fabulously rich).
Carter’s judgments have great relevance in the dispute over whether the upcoming election will be a referendum on the incumbent or a deserved repudiation the general repulsiveness of Republicans, their nominee, and their insensitive and fraudulent ideology. (Chris Mooney even claims there’s a genetic cause for Republicans’ outrageous denials of various scientific facts and the authority of science in general. From Mooney's view, we need to hope and pray that they discover a cure for being a Republican.)
If Romney is okay (not suffering from the Republican genetic disorder, for example), then voters are free to make this election what our Framers more or less intended: The incumbent gets reelected if people are satisfied that his record of accomplishment has made their lives better—more secure, more prosperous, less anxious, more free, and so forth. If they aren’t so satisfied, then he should be replaced by a adequate (or maybe better) alternative.