Column: In which I praise Mitt (but explain why I won’t vote for him)
While it is fashionable these days to engage in vitriol and vilification of the political “other side,” I am having a hard time thinking of Willard Mitt Romney as truly evil. Really.
Sure, I cringe when I think about having a private equity guy in the White House. I know enough about that business to realize that it can be creative and helpful or deeply cold-blooded and destructive. Romney’s work at Bain Capital apparently included plenty of both kinds of deals. That makes me uncomfortable. But it’s a big jump from knowing that to believing that one can divine what’s in a man’s soul. People are complicated, Romney more so than most.
Along with his shortcomings, Romney has some very good qualities – as a candidate and as a person – that make him by far the best Republican in the presidential field. None of those qualities make me want to vote for him in the fall, for reasons I will explain shortly. But even so, it’s worth noting some of them:
-- Romney is no ideologue: Like Ronald Reagan, Romney has a strong pragmatic streak. As governor of Massachusetts, he was willing to pair spending cuts with revenue increases by raising fees and closing loopholes in the state tax code. That does not endear him to Tea Party activists. But a “cuts only” approach to fixing the Massachusetts budget would have been a nonstarter. Mitt chose to get things done.