~Romney may be just doing the very sort of thing David Brooks is espousing and insisting that he’s really a moderate who was just being pragmatic when he presented himself as a severe conservative, in order to get elected. I suspect David himself uses a similar justification for what he does as a conservative pundit who has been known to toe the party line but is the moderate darling of Democrats and liberals. The problem is, to put it in language David might understand, is character; what kind of person does this, and can such a person ever be trusted? How do we know when he’s posing and when he’s being sincere? Others need from him, if not consistency, then the through-line of a coherent theme that an inner core, that is intact and to which we connect, allows. And we don’t want the cheap substitute of being bullied or lied to or manipulated instead.
These are penetrating, core questions, clearly framed, aimed at how ideas, actions, and decisions relate to trust and authenticity. I offer 3 methods to determine “how we know” our interpretations are accurate.
One (drawn from addictions), when a behavior is center stage, increasingly dominates the frame or can be seen through the other positions or actions (not a Romney example, but lynching empty chairs points to deeper problems!). Repeated, long-term behavior, appearing in all phases of a process points to a character anchor unlikely to change (Obama’s or Romney’s).
Two, when the behavior is strongly tied to short term goals and is often quickly abandoned. (Those who ask for money for food, but walk away if you offer to buy a meal. I doubled a gift once in NC when a person made a specific menu choice, demonstrating authenticity.)
Three, when a central life experience resides in the background but is glimpsed repeatedly. (Again, definitely not a Romney example, but serial criminals have a disguised central goal.)
I submit for Romney, flip-floping is an action strategy to keep others off base, options open, and disguise intent. Poland, England, the NAACP were quickly abandoned after being used and no appearences have taken place at former Bain sites. Coded and uncoded language, fictions, personal behavior and a budget sheet emphasis on capital extraction disguise–and affirm–Romney’s real goal: a massive redistribution of public wealth.