William F. Buckley once said something to the effect that he didn’t want the most conservative nominee as presidential candidate for the GOP, he wanted the most conservative candidate that could win the election as the GOP’s nominee. In light of this sentiment, I am wondering if the lion of old line conservatism has decided that Mitt Romney just might be the “conservative enough” candidate for the GOP in 2008?

Last week, Buckley offered for our consideration a column mentioning Mitt Romney’s conversion from abortion advocate to his new found status of anti-abortion believer — a stance that puts him just in time to offer himself as the GOP candidate for the 2008 GOP nomination — and how so many are rightfully skeptical of this new stance.

In Romney’s Moral Thought Buckley mentions that Romney’s sudden conversion is acclaimed as that born of “studied reflection” on the issue, just as Romney claims. Of course, Buckley seems to conveniently ignore the fact that Romney was still advocating his pro-abortion ideas not too long ago as Governor of Massachusetts making it a bit hard to believe that Mitt spent much time agonizing over this change.

Buckley, though, seems to accept Romney’s claims at face value based on the fact that America has changed its prevailing moral opinion in the past. I find his reasoning less than convincing, especially when he cites Thomas Jefferson’s acceptance of slavery at the same time he was writing about freedom and liberty in the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson, it is true, did own slaves as he was propounding for American freedom, but he never thought of slavery as a moral good. He always thought of it as a bad thing that should go away. He just had no idea about how to go about getting rid of it. Additionally, Jefferson never imagined the issue of slavery was one not to be reconsidered for future Americans. He even attempted to start a society that might help repatriate African slaves back to Africa, called the American Colonization Society.

So, to use Jefferson as some sort of example of an embargoing of a moral issue or moral evolution in comparison with Mitt Romney’s is not really a legitimate one.

I will admit that Buckley doesn’t come right out and state plainly that he believes Mitt’s conversion. And, the other point Buckley makes, that of scolding the pro-abortioners for never seeming to give the issue much thought and just taking their own belief without question, is a good one. But, I find his smoothing of the waves for Romney a bit disturbing and seems to speak to the conservative stalwart’s sizing Romney up favorably for the nomination.

In Romney we have a candidate that just can’t be believed on some of the most important conservative issues; guns and abortion. With his late lie on his “lifetime” as a hunter and his only recently advocating for a pro-abortion position, Romney seems almost like a candidate who will say just anything to get the nomination. His claim of deep moral thought on the issue after which he emerged a newly minted anti-abortionist is just too convenient to be accepted.

In any case, it seems plain that Bill Buckley doesn’t want to shut the door on Mitt Romney with this little op ed of his. I cannot say, however, that he is standing upright with this consideration. Buckley’s bending over backwards to give Romney the benefit of the doubt makes me marvel that a man of his advanced age is flexible enough for the effort.

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