INSIDER PUNDITS, CLUELESS ON ROMNEY
Politico's Ben Smith thinks Judge Vinson's health care ruling can helps Mitt Romney become the GOP presidential nominee:
The shift of the debate over health care from a policy fight to a Constitutional argument is a boon to Mitt Romney, who finally has a plausible campaign-trail answer to questions on the issue.
... the main objection to ObamaCare, as its critics call it, is no longer a matter of policy nuance. Now critics primarily make the case that it's an unconstitutional expansion of specifically federal power. And on that turf, the similar structure of the plans doesn't matter. Romney enacted his at a state level, and states have -- conservatives argue -- more power to regulate the insurance industry, as they do with car insurance.
"I'm not going to apologize for the rights of states to craft plans on a bipartisan basis to help their people," Romney said on Good Morning America this morning, and it's no longer a bad answer.
It's hard to imagine a worse misreading of GOP-base thinking than what Smith writes here.
Critics are arguing that the health care law is unconstitutional because that argument might get it overturned in the courts, but they think it's far worse than that. It's a monstrosity and an abomination and the end of civilization as we know it! It's un-American! It's socialist! It's the death of freedom in America! It's the death of capitalism! Come on, Ben -- you know this, don't you? Were the town hall disruptions and tea party rallies that long ago?
The GOP base is so worked up these days about "limited government" that a Republican state legislator in Georgia has seriously proposed doing away with driver's licenses in the state (in what he calls the "Right to Travel Act"). He really doesn't believe that this will turn him into a laughingstock. And in this climate, in Red America, it won't.
If Mitt Romney wants to be the GOP candidate for president, he doesn't have to figure out how to explain his support for a universal-coverage health care law at the state level -- he has to explain why he sought to impose socialist-fascist government health care tyranny in the first place. And that's no easier today than it was a week ago.
And this, from The Atlantic's Joshua Green, seems equally clueless, even though I realize it's meant only to be conversation-starting contrarianism:
Not sure I quite buy this, but I'll throw it out there for purposes of sparking a discussion: The cognoscenti seem to agree that a Jon Huntsman run for the 2012 GOP nomination would hurt Mitt Romney because it would split Mormon votes, fundraising, etc. But wouldn't it also help Romney in the one area where he is most vulnerable, the perception that he's too liberal and untrustworthy because he enacted a health care plan nearly identical to Obama's? Just as you never want to be the last guy picked for your grade-school kickball team, GOP presidential hopefuls never want to be "the guy closest to Obama." From the perspective of a Republican primary voter, Hunstman would seem to me to be the worse of the two, and that couldn't help but take some heat off of Romney. Picture the first Republican debate with all the candidates stretched across a stage. Someone dings Romney on health care. With Huntsman on stage, he could piously say to the audience that at least he never worked for Obama.
First of all, has anyone pointed out to Joshua that we nominate individuals for president, not teams? I have vivid memories of being the last kid picked, and on those fortunate occasions when someone was even less athletically gifted than I was, I wound up getting picked ... well, second-last. I wasn't named captain of the team.
And Romney isn't in competition with Huntsman just for Mormon votes and money -- he's battling for the support of the non-insane remnant of the party with Huntsman. And, potentially, with John Thune. And maybe Rudy Giuliani.
In what's likely to be a huge field, Romney might emerge the winner -- if he has a monopoly or near-monopoly on non-extremist voters. But every relatively high-profile moderate who enters the race splits that vote.
Meanwhile, as far as the crazy majority of voters are concerned, Romney is just another guy who dances with the socialist, anti-American devil. What does Joshua Green think -- that when it comes to rage, angry Republicans have a quota?
Meanwhile, I see that Romney has added a new introduction for the paperback edition of the book he published last year, and he's used it to give a shout-out to the teabaggers:
In the book's new introduction, Romney gives an apparent nod to the Tea Party movement, criticizing Democrats in sharp populist language for pushing a greater role for government....
"Like the monarch the revolutionaries rejected, they have no limit on the amount they would tax the people and their enterprises," he adds. "Rather than admire the heritage of peaceful assembly and petition, they ridicule and demean assemblies of ordinary citizens who protest their grand health care plans, takeovers, and bailouts."
How shameless is Romney? Now he doesn't like "grand health care plans, takeovers, and bailouts." Hmm, let's see: Enacted a "grand health care plan" in Massachusetts? Yup. Supported the "takeover" of GM and Chrysler? Yup. Backed the TARP bailout? Yup. Wingnut voters don't need to have any of this pointed out to them -- they know, and they're not pleased.