On what will Mitt Romney flip-flop next?

We all know Mitt Romney has completely reversed himself on the health care mandate.

There’s no denying that Romney totally switched his position on a woman’s right to choose.

And does anyone dispute his latest stance on immigration is 180 degrees different from what it was only a few years ago?

The only question is on what issue we care about will Mitt Romney flip-flop next?

Romney sounded in favor of comprehensive health care reform that included mandates, when he stated in a 2008 presidential debate, “I like mandates … look, if people can afford to buy it, either buy the insurance or pay your own way.” And yet now he stands squarely against Obama’s health care law, a law strikingly similar to the one he helped sign into law in Massachusetts.

Romney was pro-choice in a debate during his 1994 race against Democratic US Senator Edward Kennedy, when he said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.” Nonetheless, in Romney’s June 18, 2011, opinion editorial in the National Review, he wrote, “I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.”

And Romney seemed to favor pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants when he said in a 2006 Bloomberg interview that America needs “to begin a process of registering those people…beginning the process for citizenship and establishing legal status.” Yet, he charged Newt Gingrich with proposing “amnesty” for certain illegal immigrants during the 2011 Republican presidential debates, even though Gingrich’s arguments were almost identical to Romney’s own earlier statements.

Romney sounded like he wanted to move beyond the flawed policies of previous Republican administrations when he argued in 1994, “I’m not trying to return to Reagan-Bush.” However, in 2007 he told NBC’s “Meet the Press, “the right way for America … is to pursue the strategy which Ronald Reagan pursued.”

The dizzying examples of Romney’s flip-flops are too numerous to fully list here.

Throughout Romney’s political career, the only constant in his public-policy positions has been their flagrant absence of consistency. American voters are still trying to discern where Romney really stands on taxes, health care, immigration and virtually every other important issue facing our country. Is Mitt Romney truly a conservative Republican or is he a politician who is willing to compromise on his core values when it’s necessary to win? Only Romney knows.

If Romney’s stance on every other issue has changed when it has become politically inconvenient, how can we be sure that his stance on Israel will not change as well? Would Romney continue to stand side-by-side with Israel if it were not politically popular? If Israel were required to defend itself in a manner which led to popular criticism – recall, for example, the harsh criticism Israel received from President Reagan when it took out Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 – would Romney then flip-flop on his commitment to Israel’s security, as he has on so many other issues?

In recent months, Romney has issued statement after statement to prove his hawkish stance on Israel and Iran, and has continually used Israel as a partisan wedge issue. But Romney also did that in support of a health care mandate, and we know that Romney’s statements can change overnight.

Mitt Romney certainly sounds pro-Israel. “I want the world to know the bonds between Israel and the United States are unshakeable,” said the Republican presidential candidate at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2012 Presidential Candidates Forum. “I will make clear that America’s commitment to Israel’s security and survival is absolute,” he wrote in Washington Post opinion piece from March 5th, 2012. But Romney has sounded many ways, and he doesn’t anymore.

Being pro-Israel, not just sounding pro-Israel, isn’t always easy to do, and yet President Obama has a proven record of standing with Israel – even when it was tough. Obama has consistently supported tougher Iran sanctions, undertaken an unprecedented US-Israel military cooperation, championed Iron Dome, overseen the highest ever amount of foreign aid to Israel, and spoken out forcibly against unilateral Palestinian action at the UN. Obama has stood behind Israel during every year of his administration and continues to be a staunch ally, even in situations when it’s politically unpopular.

The US-Israel relationship needs strong bipartisan American support — not more empty political posturing. Israel is far too important to be used for partisan gain, as Romney and his Republican allies so often do. During my years in Congress, those of us who stood most strongly for Israel always sought critical bipartisan support.

Sure, Romney’s rhetoric is pro-Israel, but actions speak louder than words. And when words mean as little as they do to Mitt Romney – on health care, on choice, on immigration – can we count on him to follow through on his promises on Israel? Maybe things will be different; maybe he won’t flip-flop on Israel, too; but Israel doesn’t have the luxury of a gamble.

About the Author
Mel Levine is a former senior Democratic congressman of the Middle East subcommittee of the House of Representatives from California. He served from 1983-1993.