Lost in the 24 to 48 hour furor over Mitt Romney’s off-the-cuff promise to eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development AND slash the Department of Education? Romney has occasionally (albeit under pressure) admitted that Race to the Top, the signature effort of the Obama Administration’s Department of Education so far, was working.
But, see, Race to the Top isn’t a program that can be “managed at the state level.” Indeed, its very raison d’être is to adjust states’ incentive structure so that they set higher expectations for their students, teachers, and administrators. If we want to increase accountability in American education, we need a federal department to set and maintain standards and expectations.
Let me be clear: this isn’t one of his trademark triple twist into a double (back) flip flop. He hasn’t changed positions so much as he’s provided more evidence (also here) that he hasn’t thought particularly hard about our problems or how to solve them. This, I think, is Romney’s ACTUAL problem—not flip floppery. Sure, he’s willing to say almost anything to almost anyone if it might advance his political fortunes. But it seems his ambition has never driven him to develop even the wisp of a coherent approach to governing or the world of policy.
This, by the way, is why his attacks painting President Obama as a political neophyte ring so hollow. Romney simply doesn’t have the gravitas to pull off that strategy.