Last week, Mitt Romney chatted with Fox's Neil Cavuto and argued that in politics, "[Y]ou don't change your position to try to win states or certain subgroups of Americans. You have the positions you have."
For the Republican presidential hopeful, it was a rather meta moment. Romney has traditionally defended flip-flopping, but as of last Thursday, he's apparently flip-flopped on flip-flopping.
The depths of the irony are amazing. Consider, for example, how this relates to Romney's take on gay adoptions.
In the same Fox interview, the Republican candidate said, "I know many gay couples that are able to adopt children. That's fine.... [I]f two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, or even to adopt a child -- in my state individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children. In my view, that's something that people have a right to do."
This won some plaudits, and reinforced perceptions that Romney might be Etch A Sketching towards the center, but on Friday, Mr. You Have The Positions You Have decided to walk that back.
The interviewer noted that Romney "endorsed" gay adoption, but the former governor said that's not quite right -- he "simply acknowledged the fact that gay adoption is legal in all states but one."
So, when Romney said gay adoption is "fine" and something "people have a right to do," this wasn't an endorsement or even an expression of his own views. He was merely giving a brief recitation of existing law in most states.
Why do you suppose Romney walked back a sensible position, just one day after taking a reasonable line? It probably has something to do with the fact that Republicans are supposed to oppose gay adoption, and the former governor temporarily forgot that his base doesn't tolerate exceptions to the far-right culture war agenda.
In other words, cowardice once again got the better of Romney, just as it did two weeks ago when a supporter talked about trying President Obama for "treason," and again last week when he could have taken a stand against bullying, but chose not to (the religious right fiercely opposes anti-bullying proposals for fear it may lead to fewer gay kids being picked on).
The cowardice was also on display when the right disapproved of Richard Grenell. And when Rush Limbaugh went after Sandra Fluke. And when the campaign was asked for Romney's position on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. And when Romney wouldn't state his views on the Violence Against Women Act or a watered-down version of the DREAM Act. And on and on.
It's now reached the point at which Romney is parsing the meaning of the word "fine" so as to hedge on whether gay adoption is acceptable.
No Profile in Courage Award for you, Mitt.