“No Apology” by Mitt Romney

I recently finished reading No Apology: Believe in America by 2012 GOP candidate Mitt Romney. I like reading books written by political candidates, as they’re free to express their ideas in something more than a 10-second sound bite. As I would have expected, Romney laid out a fairly detailed set of arguments to back up his various policy positions.

It was interesting to me that he choose to devote the first four chapters of his book to foreign affairs and saved domestic policy for the second half. (It’s usually the other way around in candidate manifestos.) He’s an unapologetic neoconservative in the foreign policy realm, with the biggest threats facing America currently as China, Russia, and authoritarian Islamic fundamentalism (in that order). 

The second half of the book on domestic policy didn’t really have anything novel or surprising. It was useful, though, in that it gave insights into Romney’s personality which could offer clues as to his potential presidential governing style. Romney is a data-wonk. Whether he’s talking about entitlements, health care, the economy, education, or energy policy, his arguments are detailed and supported with graphs and statistics. The book paints a picture of a pragmatic conservative who is more likely to be persuaded by empirical evidence than ideology. Only in the very last chapter are there a few pages focusing primarily on social issues. 

Alas, the 2012 Mitt Romney is a bit more conservative and ideological than the 2010 author of this book. As a political scientist, my hypothesis is that it’s simply a result of the reality that he has to somehow appeal to and motivate an extremely conservative Republican base to turn out to vote for him this fall. If elected, I’d like to think that he’d look more like the 2010 Romney from this book than the 2012 Romney of the campaign trail. 

Throughout the book one is able to discern the general contours of Governor Romney’s overarching worldview. While I sympathize with some of his broader views, he and I ultimately just have different ways of looking at the world. Should he manage to defy the odds and win the White House this November, however, I think we could do a lot worse.

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2 responses to ““No Apology” by Mitt Romney

  1. While I agree with your overall thoughts, do you think Romney will really be able to return to his former pragmatism? Considering how radicalized American politics, and the Republican party in particular, seems today, do you think he would be able to break away from the extreme conservatives who he energized to elect him?

  2. Benjamin Knoll

    That is indeed the question! On one hand, he’ll likely want to run for reelection in 2016, so he’ll have to do things to keep the base happy which would mean a more conservative Romney presidency. On the other hand, the base likely will support him in 2016 even if he moderates in 2013-2015 so long as he starts paying attention to them again in the election year (i.e. exactly what Obama is doing right now on immigration, gay marriage, etc.).

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