Mitt Romney is probably the best choice for Republicans. Most of the other Republican candidates have shown themselves to be too far off the mainstream on one issue or another. And some have too much baggage.

Mitt Romney is probably the best choice for Republicans. Most of the other Republican candidates have shown themselves to be too far off the mainstream on one issue or another. And some have too much baggage.
Romney seems sufficiently liberal on the social issues to have widespread appeal. And he's apparently learned how to be on every side of every issue, which by some popular twist of reasoning, makes him middle-of-the-road. Call it flip-flopping if you will, but he somehow keeps getting by with it. Perhaps because there is no shortage of money to market the desired image — whatever that may be at the time.
In his favor, the former Massachusetts governor seems unlikely to cause any regression on matters such as advancing women's reproductive rights or equality for gays and lesbians. On some cultural issues he may be at least as liberal as Obama, which is probably where the ideal Republican candidate should be these days. But when needed, Romney seems very good at claiming, with a straight face, to be a social conservative — and he's smart enough not to go into too much detail.
To be fair to the other contenders, any one of them would likely deliver for the Republicans where it really matters for them; that is, of course, keeping taxes low on America's mega-millionaires — the folks John Boehner likes to refer to as "the American people." Gosh sakes, it used to be that Obama only wanted to raise taxes on those making over $250,000 per year, but Boehner and his ilk cried "communism." Obama eventually offered a compromise — to raise taxes only on those making over a million bucks a year. But Boehner and his cronies are still crying "communism" and that Obama wants to raise taxes on "the American people."
Heaven knows where all this will end, but the tax issue and Boehner's "American people" do present a problem for the Republicans: Are they over-defining themselves as the party of the ultra-rich? That's not a good image when we see so many working class folks, from small business owners to unskilled laborers struggling to make ends meet. Even with the vast amounts of money that the Republican elite will spend to market their candidate as one of the common folk who really cares about and can relate to the middle class or the working poor, I suspect that too many Americans will see that it's all a smoke-and-mirror illusion. Republicans tried the bib overalls and shotgun with that cute gal from Alaska — folks saw through it and she didn't fly, but she did figure out how to cash in on her fans as some sort of post-election celebrity.
But these are much too serious times to even consider putting a flake in the White House. Republicans are up against a man who has now shown that he can handle some of the toughest situations with cool demeanor — from killing Osama Bin Laden to crushing Al- Qaeda operatives at a rate perhaps 10 times greater than his predecessor. While his detractors cried "lead from behind" Obama showed the right type of cautious involvement to promote the fall of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi. Indeed, our present situations with countries such as Iran and Syria require our leaders to be rational, emotionally stable, and to first get the facts. Let's repeat one thing: We need emotionally stable leaders who will first get the facts before stirring everyone up. We all know how the Bush administration took us — based on falsehoods — into our still costly military involvement with Iraq.
Romney does appear to show sufficient emotional stability although he needs to be more cautious in choosing his words. We all choose the wrong words now and then — and that's forgivable. But I fear that he is getting tripped up in double talk. For example, on the one hand he repeats the right wing over-simplification that jobs don't come from the government. Huh? What about postal workers, military personnel, folks at the EPA, the FDA, the FBI, the CIA, contracts awarded to defense contractors, construction workers... etc. Then he say's that if he becomes the head of our government, he will create jobs. Again, huh? I can understand why the Republicans lost the college-educated vote the last time around, but why would any candidate keep stepping into this pile of nonsense so willingly?
Romney may be hurting himself by parroting the main Republican talking points: That more tax cuts for mega-millionaires like himself will create jobs for America and that business is overburdened with regulation. History shows that the first part is obviously wrong. As for business being over-regulated, let's just say that regulations should always be examined, re-examined and improved upon to facilitate business and protect all of us. But consider the BP oil spill, water and soil contamination from fracking fluids used by the natural gas industry, and the mortgage securities fiasco that robbed millions of Americans of their investments. In light of all that, does Romney really want to keep saying, "Let's get government out of our way!" ?


( Brad Pfeiffer of Heber Springs is one of two local contributors to Progressive Voice, a “liberal viewpoint” column which runs on the third Friday of the month)