Mitt Romney brought up Obama’s intended-private remark to Vladimir Putin that he could be “more flexible after the election.” While this moment of candor was considered by Romney a negative, it’s true. There are things that are true and probably should be said during an election that a candidate cannot say and still get elected. Republicans were arm-twisted into signing Grover Norquist’s no tax increase pledge under threat of political opposition and now they cannot candidly talk about, much less work on a pragmatic solution to the deficit.
US Presidents in their second term don’t have to worry about being re-elected. They can be flexible, be pragmatic, and make the hard and sometimes politically-unpopular choices. Knowing Obama’s history, I don’t worry about what it means to be more flexible after the election. What worries me is Mitt Romney being less flexible after the election.
Romney was a hard-liner in Massachusetts, vetoing over 800 bills passed by his largely-Democratic legislature (most vetoes overridden). Romney was an inflexible hard-liner during the Primary Election and he was the first major candidate to sign the Norquist tax pledge. Only in the last few weeks, and in particular during the Presidential Debates, did Romney display some flexibility, even moving to the left of Obama when it came to the subject of war. It concerns me greatly how flexible (or rather how inflexible) Romney will be after the Election.