Thursday, June 28, 2012


Jonathan Bernstein writes this, and I just don't believe it:
... this election will not be fought over health care. Oh, it's an issue, as it always is, but with 8 percent unemployment, it's not going to be what swing voters are hearing about. And don't forget -- those swing voters weren’t the ones keeping a tab open on SCOTUSblog this morning; they may see a headline, but they aren’t paying much attention to any of this even when it's dominating the news. And by next week, and then August, and then October, the Affordable Care Act isn’t going to be dominating the news anymore, and most swing voters will barely be aware that there is a health-care reform law.
I think it's practically all swing voters are going to hear about from Mitt Romney. Yes, he's a convert to movement conservatism, and to a large extent he's faking it, but he is determined to run a wingnut-till-death campaign, and the base barely wants to hear about anything else. He's going to promise to repeal the law and get massive standing ovations from his crowd -- do you think he's going to stop? Pleasing the base seems to be all he cares about.

As it is, Romney's first promise in his campaign ads is to "repeal Obamacare." Recall that a week ago he released customized ads for four different swing states; he juggled the order of information in all of them, but in each one, repeal of the health care law was Promise #1. He has to do this. He is compelled to do this. It's what the base demands, and he won't dare to buck the base, even if the consequence is that he never competes seriously for the middle.

As DougJ wrote yesterday,
... the media narrative has shifted from "Romney will move to the center in the general" to "Romney will govern from the center even though he campaigned from the far right in both the primaries and the general". Clearly, Romney can't "tack to the center" even on issues where it would be politically advantageous for him to do so. Why? ...

The fundamental fact of contemporary American politics is that no one fears anything except the far right. There's millions of examples from Shirley Sherrod to the Bush's Dubai ports and Harriet Miers fiascos to "Drudge rules our world", etc.

... The right will eat [Romney] alive he goes too far off their reservation.
And that means treating the existence of the Obama health law as if it's worse than 9/11, the Holocaust, and a meteor about to destroy Earth combined. That means, in all likelihood, making a repeal promise the centerpiece of his campaign.


Victor said...

I'm coming around to the same opinion.

Yesterday, I thought Mitt, after making his perfunctory speech bashing Obamacare, didn't want to talk about it anymore.

And behind the scenes, I think there are probably some huge arguments going on that'll be going on for the next few days.

Mitt can't WANT to run against this. His ass is totally exposed, since Obama will repeat that his program was based on Mitt's in MA.

But their base has gone wild.

And the powers-that-be don't dare ignore that Frankenstein Monster that they allowed to be created - and now can't control.

So, I think Mitt will try to talk to R's running for office to stick to jobs. And, ineffective, wishy-washy, git that he is, will fail, and will be forced to go along - or get trampled.

So, we'll see.
But I think you're probably right.

Swellsman said...

Yeah, I'm already there.

I was speaking with my father the other day, relating the news to him (he is spending his dotage camping out in New Mexico in a 1973 VW volkswagen van, wearing tie-dyes, so I guess my political leanings are genetic or something), and we both started speculating on what that would mean for the future of the presidential campaign.

I told him that it'll be very interesting to see whether Romney and the GOP back off of the health care bill now, and he told me something to the effect of, "Well, but they'd have to. It'd be stupid not to, now. How can Romney possibly attack his own legislative grandchild, now that it has been anointed by the Supreme Court."

Now . . . my father is an unreconstructed hippie, but I don't think he has been paying as much attention to actual political news as people reading this blog have. I think he - very much like Obama used to (one hopes) - still convinced that the modern GOP has hasn't gone completely batshit insane.

"Well, Dad," I told him, "I agree with you that - politically speaking - it'd be suicide to keep pounding away at Obamacare as the greatest threat facing the nation, but I'm not sure Romney has much choice here. He has been completely captured by the Crazy Base, and if the Crazy Base want him to repealing the ACA the centerpiece of his campaign, that's what he'll have to do."

So, yeah . . . it'll be interesting to see how it plays out over the next few months, but I tend to suspect you are absolutely correct in your reading of the tea leaves, Steve.