David Hoppe

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:: I want to hug Mitt Romney

Really!

By David Hoppe

I want to give a great, big Hoosier hug to Mitt Romney.

Yes, Mitt Romney.

If it weren't for Mitt's penchant for saying one thing and then another — you know, like the one about how he hates Obamacare, yet invented it as Romneycare; or that he respects a woman's right to choose, but has never considered himself pro choice — I'd be feeling like the Bill Murray character in the movie Ground Hog Day.

In case you haven't seen it, Bill plays a weatherman stuck in Punxsuatawney, Pennsylvania. Every night he sets his alarm and every morning he wakes up to find that the same day is starting all over again.

Or, as the French are famous for saying, the more things change, the more stay the same.

If it weren't for Mitt's flip flops, the world would be almost too predictable to bear.

Take, for example recent testimony by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno. The general told the House Armed Services Committee that planned cuts to the Army's budget will reduce troop strength down to 439,000 over the next five years. He said he's confident the Army can meet its commitments over this period of time, but…there's a catch.

“The risk that we are accepting is that we will not get into long-term, simultaneous operations again as in Iraq and Afghanistan over a 10-year period.”

Did you get that? Gen. Odierno says that cuts to troop strength will make it impossible for us to go and do what we did in Iraq and Afghanistan again. He calls this a “risk.” It appears the philosopher Santayana was wrong. Even if we remember the past — in fact the past doesn't even have to be past — someone in the government will be hellbent on making sure we repeat it.

They call that national security.

That's not all. Here in Indiana we've just muddled through another legislative session. Once again, the city-hating yucks elected by a majority of Hoosiers have concluded that what's holding down the state's below average income level isn't its unwillingness to embrace new ideas or the paranoia so many of us seem to feel at the sight of anyone who doesn't look like we do. No, the problem is gay people.

Just like last year and the year before that, Indiana Republicans made gay-bashing part of their agenda. Not content with having made it impossible for gay people to marry or form civil unions in this state, Republican legislators went after the Indiana Youth Group's license plate. Nine years ago, NUVO presented IYG with a Cultural Vision Award for its “emphasis on building youths' self-esteem, personal skills and leadership potential, while still providing an array of health, counseling, education, substance abuse and advocacy services.”

But we can't have that in Indiana. As Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana put it: “The Indiana Youth Group promotes dangerous lifestyles that run counter to state law.”

The idea, I guess, is to do all we can to make Indiana a gay-free state. There must be a secret study somewhere that says Fortune 500 corporations are longing to set up shop in Indiana, but are hanging back because we're so damn gay. Yeah: that's it. I wonder what Republicans will go after next year? Maybe they'll will ban those touring companies of Broadway musicals.

Meanwhile, here in Indianapolis, we've had another downtown shooting spree. This is getting to be an annual occurrence. The latest one happened on a Saturday night; a bunch of teenagers were hanging out near the downtown canal and somebody in a car decided they made handy targets. Fortunately, no one was killed. But, as usual, none of the victims was white, which means that nothing to speak of is likely to be done about it.

There's been a lot of hand-wringing, of course, about parental responsibility, the scourge of gangs and cultural breakdown. There always is when these shootings take place.

But, just like always, no one in official circles is saying anything about how easy it is to for teens — or anybody else — to get their hands on guns in this city. Although gun advocates never tire of complaining about how everyone is always trying to take their beloved weapons away, the fact is guns might as well be fashion accessories in parts of this town.

Sadly, there's about as much chance of our doing something constructive about guns here as there is of seeing our streets finally being well-paved. The city is crowing about how the mild winter weather has lightened our pothole census. The trouble is that the surfaces of many of our busiest thoroughfares have been so bad for so long nobody seems to notice anymore. Think I'm kidding? Cruise past the headquarters of the Indianapolis Foundation on Alabama St. some time. The last time I tried it, I thought I head a voice calling, “Wagons Ho!”

So I say bless Mitt Romney's flip floppery. We may never know where he stands, but at least it'll be different from wherever he stood before.