Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 31, 2012

House of Burgess: Software update available

Which political version will candidates use after election?

By Rob Burgess
Tribune columnist

Kokomo — There are just six days left until Election Day. Most voters will either vote for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama for president. The problem with these choices is that there is no indication which version of these candidates you’re being asked to vote for. All one is given is the name.

When I’m asked to download an update for a computer program or an operating system, the file comes with a number attached. This process is called “versioning” and it helps in differentiating between unique states of the software in question.

For example, my iPhone 4 is currently running iOS version 5.1.1. It works fine. I see no reason to change. However, every time I plug my phone into my computer, iTunes keeps trying to prompt me to update to iOS 6. This is useful information because iOS 6 does away with the incredibly useful Google Maps-based navigation application and replaces it with Apple’s own software, Maps. And Maps has been, let’s say, problematic.

“Sears Tower in Chicago has reportedly shrunk, Helsinki railway station was listed as a park, and a British furniture museum [was] placed in a river,” reports French news service Agence France-Presse. “In Ireland, justice minister Alan Shatter has written to Apple asking for an urgent correction to an error placing an airport at a farm named Airfield in his Dublin constituency.”

Like Apple, both Romney and Obama have undergone some questionable changes regarding their main features over the last few years.

When Romney was running for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, he told New England Cable News reporter Alison King, “people recognize that I’m not a partisan Republican, that I’m someone who is moderate, and that my views are progressive.”

But when Romney spoke before the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, he had quite a different take on his time as the leader of the Bay State.

“I fought against long odds in a deep blue state, but I was a severely conservative Republican governor,” he said, to applause.

And then, the very next month, in March, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom was asked by John Fugelsang on CNN if the fight for the Republican presidential nomination would cause him to “tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election.”

“Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” said Fehrnstrom. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”

So, if you’re going to pull the lever for Romney next week, which edition will you be voting for? The pro-choice candidate he said he was when running for Senate in 1994, or the pro-life warrior he claims to be now? The man who touted Romneycare as his crowning achievement during his governorship, or the standard-bearer of the call to repeal Obamacare? The governor who signed a restrictive assault weapons ban, or the presidential candidate the National Rifle Association endorsed this month as the “only hope” for firearms freedom?

This isn’t to say that Romney is the only politician to undergo such dramatic software updates. President Obama has undergone several overhauls to his firmware in the recent past.

Are we being asked to vote for the Obama who said in 2008 that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on [medical marijuana],” or the president who has since surpassed George W. Bush’s record for crackdowns on state-licensed pot dispensaries? Is he the man who promised to close Guantanamo Bay detention camp, or the chief executive who still hasn’t shuttered it? Should I believe the guy who originally campaigned against the Bush tax cuts, or the newer version who extended them?

All I’m asking for is some consistency. Since neither Obama nor Romney can seem to manage his way around that, I’d at least like to know what features I can expect from their new software before I decide to update or not.

Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at rob.burgess@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/robaburg.