Now that Mitt Romney has ground out a victory against the weakest GOP field in a generation and the most extreme in history, he's now turning his attention to the general election. To use a particularly vivid metaphor, he's shaking his Etch-a-Sketch as hard as he can, trying to erase his far-right pandering in the primaries. But despite his head fakes towards moderation, no one should doubt that a President Mitt Romney would enact a dangerously extreme agenda for our country, and nothing makes that clearer than the person he selected as his constitutional and judicial advisor: Robert Bork.
Yes, that Robert Bork.
In a primary dominated by sideshows appealing to the fringe element, important issues like the Supreme Court were rarely discussed in detail, but Romney's announcement that Bork would be his judicial advisor is the clearest possible signal of how far to the right Romney has moved since his days as a "moderate" Republican in Massachusetts and of his willingness to embrace all the fringiest opinions of all his primary opponents.
Sure, Rick Santorum promised to attack legalized birth control, Ron Paul says the Civil Rights Act "destroyed" privacy, and Newt Gingrich thinks child labor laws are "truly stupid." But none of them can hold a candle to the extremism of Robert Bork, the patron saint of far-right ideologues. And Bork's choice in this infamous field? Mitt Romney.
When Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1987, his nomination was rejected as too extreme by a bipartisan majority in a 58-42 vote. Since then he's only moved further out of the mainstream.
Robert Bork insists that art and literature aren't protected by the First Amendment. He defended the constitutionality of poll taxes and literacy tests for voters, and he called the Civil Rights Act "unsurpassed ugliness." He's defended state laws that made gay sex a criminal offense. As a judge he routinely ruled in favor of big business over individual Americans.
Perhaps most disturbing are Bork's reactionary views on how the law treats women. Robert Bork doesn't just think abortion should be criminalized, he thinks states should be free to outlaw birth control. He's argued that the Equal Protection Clause doesn't apply to women. And what seems almost too unbelievable to be real, he even ruled that a company is free to tell female employees to be sterilized or lose their jobs.
In any sane election, Robert Bork would be the hidden crazy uncle or at least denounced as a political liability, but then again this hasn't been a sane election. Instead, Mitt Romney has bragged about nabbing the endorsement and held Bork up as a model for the judges he'd appoint to the bench, including the Supreme Court. He's said he wishes Bork were on the court today. Any questions regarding the types of judges Romney would nominate?
With Election Day on the horizon, it's all but inevitable that Mitt Romney will start reshaping his rhetoric for the general election. But regardless of his carefully calibrated statements or his poll-tested promises, no one should forget that by choosing Robert Bork as a key advisor, Mitt Romney has made crystal clear his frighteningly extreme agenda for America.
Follow Michael B. Keegan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/peoplefor