Editor’s note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs
(CNN) — Over the past couple of weeks, I have been asking random people who identify as Republicans if they trust Mitt Romney, and each of them gave me an answer like this — “I trust him more than I trust Obama.” It’s just a long winded way of saying “no.”
They said they did want to see his taxes.
They said they have reservations about a major tax plan lacking specifics.
Some said they saw the video of him describing himself as a pro-abortion rights moderate; others knew that in the hardcover version of his book “No Apology,” he expressed pride in Romneycare and believed that “we can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country.” They know he flip flops.
And yet, their dislike of President Barack Obama is so strong that they’re willing to overlook that whole character thing and swallow the bitter pill that is Romney.
How can they do that, you say?
Well for starters, Obama isn’t exactly a rock of Gibraltar himself.
Politifact’s “Obameter” has been keeping track of the more than 500 promises the president made during the 2008 campaign and found thus far he’s kept 37% of them. He’s broken 16%, compromised on 14% and is still working on another 22%.
So even though Romney smells, Obama’s not exactly lilacs.
He promised to address gun control. He hasn’t.
He promised to close Gitmo. It’s still open.
If you believe his evolution wasn’t about politics, then you probably believe Jimmy Carter was robbed in 1980.
This is why some Republicans are willing to vote for a guy they may not trust: He’s viewed as the lesser of two evils. But pointing out the evils in the other party does nothing to address the evils in their own.
Here’s the thing: The question of trusting Mitt Romney has nothing to do with Barack Obama.
It’s about Romney.
Voters might not like to think about that too much, but they need to look beyond campaign sleight of hand to give it some serious thought because the future of the middle class depends on it.
This week, both Romney and VP hopeful Paul Ryan have been touting a multitrillion dollar tax-cutting plan with no details, essentially asking voters to take it on faith that it’ll all work out. Many conservative pundits, including George Will, say Romney’s math — where it exists — is a bit fuzzy and all Romney can say is “trust me.”
So again, I ask Republicans: Do you?
Not in comparison to Obama, but in comparison to your understanding of the word trust. Knowing what you know — and don’t know.
Because if he wins, saying “I trust him more than I trust Obama” is not going to help matters in January. It’s not going to protect the middle class’ ability to write off the interest on their mortgages or deduct charitable giving. Romney said the plan won’t touch those deductions, but he won’t tell us which deductions it will touch.
Trust him with our taxes, he says.
And yet, he won’t trust us to even look at his.
At the Republican National Convention, Mitt’s wife, Ann, painted a picture of their early years together as if the two of them were barely getting by. And then an old Boston Globe interview surfaced in which she said “we were happy, studying hard. Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time.”
Realizing that struggling college students work and don’t usually live off investments, she backed away from her earlier characterization, telling “Meet the Press” later that, “Mitt and I do recognize that we have not had a financial struggle in our lives.”
Uhm … you do know that she didn’t just realize this, right?
You do know that her speech was designed to manipulate voters in an attempt to paint her husband as a regular Joe, a guy just like them, someone they could trust.
So … do you?
Do you trust Mitt Romney?
Obama has only kept 37% of his promises. But Politifact’s GOP Pledge-O-Meter, which they describe as having followed “dozens of promises made in 2010 by Republican leaders” and in their Pledge to America, found that the GOP has only kept 19% of its promises.
If you can’t trust a guy who has only kept 37% of his promises, how do you trust leaders that have only kept 19% of theirs?
Better yet, how do you trust a guy, who as governor of Massachusetts, signed an assault weapon ban in 2004, reiterated his support for a ban in 2007 and then shows up at an NRA convention in 2012 talking like some sort of John Wayne wannabe?
I don’t think you can.
Which I guess is why many Republicans have a hard time saying they do.