Editorials
    Next Score View the next score

    EDITORIAL

    Hey, Utah, here are some expert tips on how to use your new Mitt Romney

    Mitt Romney: A user’s guide.
    Samantha Stamas/Globe Staff Illustration

    THE LATEST UPGRADE to Mitt Romney’s operating system apparently required a lengthy reboot. But now, after several months in beta, the erstwhile Belmont resident has reemerged as a Senate candidate in Utah, with features that include a new groveling app to accept an endorsement from President Trump, and efficiency improvements allowing him to operate at lower dignity levels.

    Unfortunately, much like an iPad, Romney doesn’t come with an instruction manual. That might leave voters in Utah struggling to understand their inscrutable new political candidate. So, because Massachusetts is the only jurisdiction ever to elect Romney to anything — he served one term as governor between his various runs for other offices — here’s a short users guide:

    The Romney mouth: Due to a longstanding bug, the words from Romney’s mouth are highly inconsistent, and shouldn’t be relied on as an indicator of his views. As a gubernatorial candidate in Massachusetts, Romney supported a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. As a presidential candidate, he identified as pro-life. As a candidate for Senate in Massachusetts in 1994, he said he would be “better than Ted Kennedy” on gay rights and promised a gay rights advocacy group that he would support laws preventing discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace.

    Advertisement

    Hands: Surprisingly well behaved for a politician. All joking aside, Romney didn’t embarrass Massachusetts with scandal, and he isn’t likely to embarrass Utah.

    Get Arguable in your inbox:
    Jeff Jacoby on everything from politics to pet peeves to the passions of the day.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    Spine: Well, nobody’s perfect. Romney’s spine fluctuates between momentarily stiff and then suddenly nonexistent. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he bravely blasted Donald Trump as a con man, phony, and fraud. Then Romney truckled to Trump, the president-elect, in a failed attempt to become secretary of state. During the presidential campaign, he tweeted that if Trump had said in 2012 what he was saying as a candidate about “the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his endorsement.” Then, last month, Romney cheerfully accepted President Trump’s endorsement.

    Heart: He has a big one for his large and loving family. A drawing of his wife, Ann, is part of the official Romney portrait that hangs in the Massachusetts State House. But he infamously put the family dog, Seamus, in a cage atop his car during a trip from Massachusetts to Ontario. He told Iowa State Fair attendees, “Corporations are people, my friend,” when asked about raising taxes on them. And, in a secretly recorded video, he also said 47 percent of Americans are “dependent on government,” “believe that they are victims,” and “believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.”

    Eyes: Partially defective. Immigrants who were illegally in the country were famously found to be doing landscaping for Romney when he was governor, and reported that he occasionally he greeted them with a cheery “buenos dias.” But he denied knowing anything about their legal status and, during the 2012 presidential campaign, called for immigrants unlawfully in the United States to self-deport. He has been critical of Trump’s tone on immigration, but recently told the Salt Lake Tribune that he supports “a border fence or wall or whatever you want to call it.”

    Hair: No problems reported. Ever.

    Advertisement

    Stomach: Capable of handling policy U-turns that would cause extreme indigestion in others. As Massachusetts governor, Romney signed the first permanent state ban on assault weapons. In the 2012 presidential contest, he declared himself “a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will,” and was endorsed by the NRA. After 17 people died recently during a Florida high school shooting, he said it was appropriate to talk about the role of guns, but it’s unclear what action he would take. He recently said gun control measures should come from states and he’s unlikely to support federal gun proposals, with the possible exception of an enhanced background check proposed by Senator Orrin Hatch.

    Brain: Smart enough to help craft good policies like Massachusetts’ health reform, but often crashes as a result of failures in other critical systems (see, e.g., spine). Though health care was Romney’s signature accomplishment, and became a model for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Romney turned tail out of political expedience. He now calls Obamacare “bad news” and says he would repeal and replace it with “state-crafted plans.”

    Feet (not pictured): Made for walking, and that’s just what they do. Romney had no problem ditching Massachusetts to run in Utah. And if he loses there? Romney’s called enough states home that who knows where he might unveil his next version?