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Mitt Romney continues to devolve

Connie Schultz

Connie Schultz

Poor Mitt Romney.

The Republican presidential candidate has changed everything but his gender to appease his new best friends on the far right.

He used to be pro-choice; now he's anti-choice.

He used to support gay rights, but now he's against those, too.

He's also against the health care plan he signed into law when he was governor of Massachusetts. Which means Mitt Romney opposes even Mitt Romney.

And what does he get for all his Gumby-with-great-hair flexibility? Seriously upstaged by a pontificating pooh-bear named Newt, who is leading in every poll that includes the word "Romney."

This is what happens when your values are more elastic than the waistband in a pair of Haggar Work to Weekend pants. Nobody who has to squirm into that stretch looks good in it.

When it comes to keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of Romney's core values, most of the coverage has focused on his switch on abortion rights and health care. He did, after all, insist in 1994 that he supported abortion rights just as his mother did when she ran for the Senate in 1973. And he used to champion the same health care reform he now opposes. I mentioned that, right?

Still, I'm most curious about his devolving views on gay rights. We're not talking about a subtle shift here, and we have no evidence that anything but political expediency changed his mind.

During his unsuccessful Senate race against Sen. Edward Kennedy, Romney flirted with gay rights activists like the class nerd willing to trade his last pocket protector for a date with the homecoming queen. (To clarify: This would be exciting only for a class nerd who's a heterosexual, which, last we heard, Romney still is.)

"If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern," he told the Log Cabin Republicans. "My opponent cannot do this. I can and will."

Romney -- the 1994 Romney -- also expressed hope that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays and lesbians serving in our military would be "the first of a number of steps that will ultimately lead to gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation's military." And as The New York Times reported, he promised he wouldn't champion a fight against same-sex marriage.

Wow. He was almost Kennedy-esque there.

Fast-forward to the 2007 Romney, who was running for president. During a Republican debate in New Hampshire, the new Romney opposed repealing DADT. Granting full rights to our gay and lesbian patriots was now an unnecessary "social experiment," particularly while our country was at war.

These days, Romney is all for dehumanizing homosexuals. In August, he signed a National Organization for Marriage pledge to support a federal constitutional amendment that defined marriage "as the union of one man and one woman." He also promised that if elected, he would fight for the Defense of Marriage Act in courts and nominate Supreme Court and federal judges who "reject the idea our Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage into our Constitution."

Don't you dare accuse him of flip-flopping.

"I think people understand that I'm a man of steadiness and constancy," Romney said in a debate last month. "I don't think you're going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do."

Who are these people?

More importantly, what is a Mitt Romney?

How does a person go from championing equality for gay and lesbian Americans to promoting efforts to deny them basic rights? In the span of three years, he went from wooing LGBT voters to declaring them secondary citizens. It's as if he was for them as long as they didn't have any of the rights he was vowing to give them. That's like a civil rights activist saying, "I was all for equality until they started voting."

Who does that?

Mitt Romney, that's who.

The 2011 version of Romney, anyway.

Email Connie Schultz at con.schultzyahoo.com.