Monday, March 22, 2010

Mitt Romney now pledged to run against his own record

Alex Massie, writing in the conservative British Spectator, perceptively captures this somewhat peculiar situation in a piece aptly titled: "Obamacare = Romneycare = Mitt's the Biggest Loser?"
Jon Chait loves a good fight so I'm not surprised he's in I Told You So mood today. I kinda, sorta, less confidently, told you so too even after Massachusetts when the prospect for HCR were pretty bleak and Fred Barnes was saying it was dead, dead, dead.

Well, we all get things wrong and sometimes perhaps we get a little lucky. The chap with the most to lose from last night's vote - in terms of politics and 2012 if nothing else - is our old chum Mitt Romney. No wonder Romney released this statement:

America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power. President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation [...] His health-care bill is unhealthy for America. It raises taxes, slashes the more private side of Medicare, installs price controls, and puts a new federal bureaucracy in charge of health care. [...]
Blah, blah, blah ... etc.

Massie cuts through all this verbiage and zeroes in on what it actually means:
In other words, Romney is now pledged to running against his own record. This is an unusual strategy but one forced upon him by a) his actual record and b) the temper of the Republican party and conservative movement. All this trouble over one tiny bill he signed when Governor of Massachusetts!
[JW: I apologize for belaboring the obvious, but I know some readers will miss the fact that Massie's formulation here is ironic.]
Because Obamacre is, in the view of plenty of sensible observers, merely a souped-up version of the Romneycare Mitt signed into law in Boston - and that he boasted about during the 2008 campaign. Back then it was a case of "I can fix health care because I've done it in the Bay State". How times change

Now, of course, he must disavow this and pretend it never happened. In a sense, mind you, this merely shows that, for all that the MA reforms may not have been perfect and for all that they may not scale to the national level, the ideas behind Obamacare were hardly revolutionary. The detail may, for sure, be another matter. Still, in outline, Governor Romney could be proud of this sort of thing; Candidate Romney must disavow his own past.
In fact, Romney already began to do that in 2008, so it won't be a new experience. Time will tell how successfully he can get away with it.

=> Meanwhile, what should we make of all the whining by Romney and other Republicans about the Democrats' "unconscionable abuse of power", their "totalitarian tactics", and the rest of this nonsense that we're sure to be hearing ad nauseam for the rest of 2010? Massie says pretty much all that needs to be said:
The legislative process may have been, to put it mildly, untidy but the President and the Congressional leadership had a mandate to produce these reforms. Complaining that they've done what they said they would do and howling that it's not fair and a big Democrat took the ball and ran away is neither dignified nor persuasive.
--Jeff Weintraub