“Moderate” Compared To What?

I mentioned in the Lunch Buffet post that the Romney campaign is running an ad suggesting that the attacks on Mitt for extremism on abortion are untrue and unfair because there are extremist positions he has not embraced. He’s not, after all, demanding a ban on every single abortion, and he’s not advocating a ban on contraceptives, either.

Nor, I might add, has Romney come out for jailing OB/GYNs who have performed abortions–or pharmacists who have dispensed contraceptives. And if they were being jailed, Mitt Romney’s not on record saying they should be tortured.

Who cares?

The reality is that after his big flip-flop on abortion back in 2006, Mitt Romney has never for a moment wavered in supporting steps to reverse Roe v. Wade and after that find ways to ban the 99.9% of abortions that do not involve rape, incest, or the live of the mother. On contraception, he has made a big deal this year out of categorical opposition to an Obama administration insurance mandate requiring coverage for contraceptive services without copays, and has supported the Blunt Amendment that would give any employer an exemption from the mandate on any stated grounds of religion or morality. So in Romney’s perfect world, you might have a right to buy contraceptives–but no right to have it covered under a standard employer-based health insurance policies. And that’s separate from the murkier question whether Mitt buys the argument his conservative-Catholic and conservative-evangelical allies present that many if not most forms of contraception are actually “abortifacients” that should be excluded from an insurance mandate and eventually banned entirely.

Compared to some wingnuttier folk, Romney may seem “moderate” on these issues. But compared to the status quo, he’s quite the radical, and the landscape for reproductive rights in a Romney administration–which would, by the way, be virtually certain to make the Supreme Court appointment that would tilt the Court into a reversal of Roe–would be very different.

This “not as crazy as I could be” posture for Romney is not limited to reproductive rights. Last night he defended his “self-deportation” position on undocumented workers by reminding voters that, after all, he’s not in favor of putting these folks in cattle cars and sending them south of the border. How moderate of him!

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.