What Romney Needs to Say About RomneyCare
Mona Charen, writing at the National Review Online, counsels Mitt Romney about what to say in defense of RomneyCare. Charen devotes more than a few words in detailing a defense for Romney.
Charen's counsel is wrong, in that candidates who play defense tend to lose. Elections aren't debating societies, where one examines positions thoughtfully, probes gradations of gray, and formulates nuanced responses.
Voters have little time or patience for such niceties.
The clash of candidates is a bare-knuckled brawl. The candidate who takes the fight to his opponent and lands the most blows is the likely winner. That may make some observers and voters uncomfortable, but it is what it is.
Romney doesn't need to devote much, if any, time to parsing RomneyCare. The former Massachusetts governor needs to spend loads of time flailing President Obama for his ObamaCare fiasco.
The lines of attack are many and rich for Romney, and he should exploit every last one of them. After all, Romney has the wind at his back on ObamaCare. About 55% of the electorate consistently oppose the president's takeover of health care.
Romney's not exactly being asked to make a courageous, uphill fight to persuade voters that ObamaCare's a big loser. Most voters are, in fact, eager for Romney to take the gloves off and relentlessly pound away at Mr. Obama and his statist health care scheme.
Certainly, grassroots conservatives are anxious for Romney to show more Muhammad Ali or Joe Frasier (pick your boxer) than preppy debate team guy in his handling of ObamaCare and Chief Justice Roberts' mangled decision.
To that end, read Jeffrey Lord's excellent article at today's The American Spectator ("Romney's Tom Dewey Moment").
Lord writes about how Romney seems to have been shaken by attacks during the primaries over his "flip-flopping" and RomneyCare. Hence, Romney's tentativeness as of late to take the fight to Mr. Obama. But tentativeness on a battlefield - a political battlefield included - is often deadly.
Let's quote Lord at length about these concerns:
The Governor was hammered again and again and again on these two issues [flip-flopping and RomneyCare] during the primaries, doubtless producing a reflexive, Dewey-like sensitivity on both [Thomas E. Dewey, failed GOP presidential nominee in 1948]. As the WSJ noted in its July 5th editorial on Romney's tax screw-up response to the Court, cited above:
Why make such an unforced error? Because it fits with Mr. Romney's fear of being labeled a flip-flopper, as if that is worse than confusing voters about the tax and health-care issues. Mr. Romney favored the individual mandate as part of his reform in Massachusetts, and as we've said from the beginning of his candidacy his failure to admit that mistake makes him less able to carry the anti-Obamacare case to voters.
But Lord offers this insightful analysis:
But the game has changed -- changed Big Time -- because of the Supreme Court decision. The failure of the Romney campaign not to understand that it has changed to their advantage could be, if not corrected, a considerable Dewey-style mistake.
What Chief Justice Roberts did -- and we're speaking here not in a constitutional sense but a political sense -- is infuriate the conservative base of the GOP. All those people who were just Mild About Mitt. [Italics added]
Now they are flocking -- unasked -- to the Governor's side. As was well reported, the Romney campaign was abruptly flooded with some $4.6 million in campaign contributions from voters apoplectic over the Supreme Court's decision.
All of which is to say -- Romney sensitivities notwithstanding -- the story is no longer that Mitt Romney can't carry the health care message. The political landscape has changed dramatically. Now?
Now the Message is Carrying Mitt.
No one but Obama underlings in Chicago give the proverbial rat's rear end what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts with Romneycare. As demonstrated in a blink by all those thousands who gave millions to the Romney campaign -- unasked.
Mitt Romney has decided advantages over Barack Obama over the latter's massive, costly, and liberty-depriving government-run health care program. Romney has the resources, voter-support, and conservative passion to carry the fight to Mr. Obama and win the day.
But Romney has to have the political smarts, adroitness, and killer-instinct to do so.