Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


No Apology

By Shawn Healy
One could argue that Governor Mitt Romney's reprisal to capture the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 rose from the ashes of his failed 2008 bid and the loss of his chief rival Senator John McCain to current president Barack Obama that November. In the interim, Romney has raised money prolifically for other Republican candidates, served as the voice of the party in media interviews, and offered terse criticism of the man who occupies the office he still covets. His new book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, sets the stage for a second run, offering dense policy analysis in the 309-page volume.

In an era where politically-polarizing tomes pepper book stores and cater to partisans on both extremes, allowing them to feed their heads in self-perpetuating echo chambers, No Apology is a departure of sorts. While the title is crafted as a direct refutation of President Obama's perceived apologies for what Romney considers "American exceptionalism," the former Massachusetts Governor offers more than caricatures of his opponents, and his well-articulated national agenda checks the appropriate conservative boxes, yet offers a level of detail that transcends a political culture premised on talking points.

Whereas President Obama devoted a scant amount of verbiage to foreign policy in his recent State of the Union Address, No Apology leads with a call for a return to muscular national defense. Romney also delves into a number of domestic policy domains, defending the near-universal health care system he helped pass in Massachusetts, while at the same time rejecting comparisons to the Democratic bills currently circulating in Congress. His prescriptions move beyond the obstructionism of his fellow party members in Washington, but he does embrace their calls for tort reform and interstate competition among insurance companies.

Romney also writes about education policy and laments the relative decline in America's competitiveness, embracing standardized testing, merit pay, mechanisms to remove incompetent educators, charter schools, school choice (though he questions its political viability), and distance learning. He reserves terse words for teacher unions, bodies he considers detrimental to requisite educational reforms.

His energy policy relies on alternate energy sources including nuclear power, natural gas, clean coal, even hydrogen. He holds solar and wind power as promising complimentary energy sources, but doubts that either represent a panacea. In an early bid for support in the Iowa Caucuses, he touts his support for ethanol subsidies and production. Romney is highly critical of the cap and trade legislation passed by the House last year, and also dismisses the wisdom of a more direct carbon tax. However, he does tout the potential of a carbon tax coupled with reciprocal tax offsets in sales or payroll taxes.

No Apology is a serious work that departs from standard campaign biographies. Indeed, its closest parallel is arguably Obama's Audacity of Hope. Romney intersperses brief biographical footnotes throughout, but its policy-orientation reigns. While he shares anecdotes from his failed 2008 presidential run, he avoids ex post facto analysis, and also strays from foreshadowing a future run for the nation's highest office. This means there is no dissection of how his Mormon faith proved an obstacle among conservative Christian voters, or his repositioning on major social issues that led many to conclude that he was a "flip-flopper" of convenience. He does make several references to his faith, and reaffirms his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

The irony is that Romney's 2008 campaign largely trumpeted social and military issues, peripheral to his core competency as an economic turn-around agent. In No Apology, he takes the opportunity to press the reset button, recasts himself as a more centrist, pragmatic technocrat, and lays the groundwork for a repeat presidential run during the most devastating economic times since the Great Depression.

Governor Romney will make his only Chicago appearance on Wednesday March 24, 2010, at the Chase Auditorium (10 S Dearborn) in Chicago at 6pm in an event sponsored by the McCormick Freedom Project, in partnership with Chicago Young Republicans, the Illinois Policy Institute and WLS 890 AM Radio. Join us for an insightful discussion about our First Amendment freedoms, a re-emerging conservative movement, and Governor Romney’s solutions for rebuilding industries, producing jobs, improving education, and restoring the military. General admission tickets are on sale here for $25. The price includes a signed copy of No Apology.


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Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at

Dave Anderson
Vice President of Civic Programs
McCormick Foundation

Tim McNulty
Senior Journalist
McCormick Freedom Project

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