Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 25, 2010

DEAR MITT, QUIT WHILE YOU'RE BEHIND.... Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) believes his presidential prospects will improve if he positions himself as the nation's leading critic of the Democrats' Affordable Care Act. It's hard to believe a man seeking national office could be so foolish.

On its face, Romney's strategy is burdened by his record. His health care reform law at the state level looks awfully similar to what Democrats have now done at the national level. A few years ago, Romney could base his presidential platform, at least in part, on his accomplishment. But now that the Republican Party has moved drastically to the right, and President Obama has signed a Romney-like plan into law, the former governor is in an impossible position.

But that's really just scratching the surface. Romney also wants Republicans to know he thinks the new law is unconstitutional, presumably because of the individual mandate. That's problematic, too. For one thing, his own plan featured a mandate. For another, there's now a video showing Romney endorsing a similar mandate at the national level.

Greg Sargent flags this clip, released this morning by the DNC, featuring footage from a 2008 debate between Republican presidential candidates. In the clip, Romney notes his approval for mandates. When ABC's Charlie Gibson notes, "You seem to have backed away from mandates on a national basis," Romney replies, "No, no, I like mandates. The mandates work."

Indeed, time and again, Romney has characterized mandates as a conservative idea.

Perhaps no one in modern political life has flip-flopped on more issues than Mitt Romney. The man simply bears no resemblance to his previous personas. But this reversal is just laughable -- the same man who embraced health care mandates in his own proposal now believes health care mandates are an unconstitutional abuse.

It's tempting to think Romney should try to change the subject to an issue where he's stronger, but the truth is, I don't know what that might be.

Steve Benen 11:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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Comments

The next thing we will hear from him is that he, Mitt Romney, never ever endorsed mandates and he was never governor of MA. That was his brother, Willard.

Posted by: sue on March 25, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but he does have nice hair. Also.

Posted by: sw on March 25, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, I give up.

Who on earth are the Republicans going to run in 2012? Every possible contender is a clown.

Do you think maybe they'll just sit it out and try to patch a credible candidate together for 2016?

Posted by: UncommonSense on March 25, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

If Mitt Romney didn't have a small fortune of his own to spend on campaigns, he'd have vanished from the political landscape after the primaries of 2008.

He's ridiculous enough to make Sarah Palin look serious by comparison.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on March 25, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Romney's hope has to be that the Republicans decide he's their best hope. Then, they walk back everything they've done this last year and shove it down the memory hole. Any chance of this happening? No. Stick a fork in him.

Posted by: walt on March 25, 2010 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Breaking news: Former Massachusetts Governor and Presidential candidate Mitt Romney today denied ever being involved in politics. "I'm just a normal, everyday citizen trying to do my best to keep this country on the right path," Romney said. "I have never had any political ambitions."

Posted by: cr on March 25, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

My prediction: Obama wins in one of the biggest landslides in modern history in 2012.

Posted by: SaintZak on March 25, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Bonfiring his bona fides

Mitt is the only republican candidate with the bona fides to have national appeal. That he must destroy that national appeal to appease teabagger hate is to truly understand what electing a black president has done to the republican party.

They are so far fucked in the extreme...

Posted by: koreyel on March 25, 2010 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Nope, as regards flip-flopping, Romney is NOT the leader in modern political life. He needs to take a back seat to McCain. Not only has McCain flipped on just about every issue he's advocated in his public life, sometimes he did it in the same day.

Posted by: artsmith on March 25, 2010 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

UPDATE

The Republicans won't be running The Man Called Petraeus in 2012:

Scratch Petraeus From 2012 Race So you can definitively take David Petraeus off that 2012 Republican presidential list:
    I thought I’d said no about as many ways as I could. I really do mean no. We have all these artful ways of doing it. I’ve tried Shermanesque responses, which everybody goes and finds out what Sherman said was pretty unequivocally no. I’ve done several different ways. I’ve tried quoting the country song, ‘What Part of No Don’t You Understand?’ I mean, I really do mean that. I feel very privileged to be able to serve our country. I’m honored to continue to do that as long as I can contribute, but I will not, ever, run for political office, I can assure you.

The idea of another Eisenhower scenario had been tempting some Republicans (particularly Iraq-focused neocon types) to talk about a Petraeus candidacy. Or maybe the buzz simply reflected an honest look at the GOP's 2012 field, which is less than impressive at present.

So, what then? Pawlenty gets it by default?

Posted by: UncommonSense on March 25, 2010 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

There is a typo in the title. I think you meant 'Keep digging, asshole.'

Posted by: doubtful on March 25, 2010 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

"I don't know what that might be."

Try hair styling.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on March 25, 2010 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) believes his presidential prospects will improve if he positions himself as the nation's leading critic of the Democrats' Affordable Care Act.

oh I see, so you weren't even paying attention to anyone's suggestions for the law's short name? :P

Posted by: Allan Snyder on March 25, 2010 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Romney should run on his height.

(Actually, the greatest thing I ever read about Romney was this: "Mitt Romney looks like the guy playing the American president in a Canadian movie." Which, upon Googling, I now see is a Letterman joke.)

Posted by: DonBoy on March 25, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

"Mitt Romney looks like the guy playing the American president in a Canadian movie."

LOL, or any local news anchorman.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on March 25, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Generally speaking, the GOP is pretty good at settling (eventually) on their most politically viable choice for the presidential nomination. They eschew the Steve Forbes's or the Pat Robertsons or the Grandpa Freds and pick the most likely winner from whatever they've got available. The last time they didn't was with Goldwater in '64, and I think the pasting they got that time stayed in their memories a long while.

But for 2012 I don't know what they're going to do. Over time, thanks in no small part to the highly effective propaganda machine they've built, their base has become ever more radicalized. Romney or someone like him would be the obvious way to go for a party that was interested in capturing an electoral majority. But I don't know that the top-down forces which usually guide these these things in the GOP will be able to overcome the animal spirits of the activists.

This may seem like good news for the Dems, but over time it's really a huge problem for the country as a whole. Our politics is set up to work with two viable political parties, and if one of those parties has been captured by authoritarian radicals, the whole structure can't work. Either the radicals eventually get to power and create a catastrophe (like in 2000-2008, only worse), or the non-radicals, unchecked by a competitive opponent, will rot and atrophy.

Posted by: jimBOB on March 25, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Alas for Mittens, forever in his own crosshairs . . .

Posted by: penalcolony on March 25, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Oh Christ here we go again...

Just a year or so after memorizing Steve Benen's exhaustive list of 76 McCain flip-flops... I have to clear my head and start anew...

Now we have to think of a new "M-something Mitt" title like "Jukebox John"...

Posted by: Ohioan on March 25, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

There is nothing Mitt won't flip flop on to win an election, but the one thing that should keep him out of any position of power, is the Dog story. Anyone who would do that to his dog, simply can't be trusted.

Posted by: atlliberal on March 25, 2010 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

From an ancient Doonesbury clip from the 1976 Presidential debate between Ford and Carter:

Candidate 1: As for that issue... flip. flip flip flip. Flip flip flip flip flip.
Moderator: Thank you. Rebuttal?
Candidate 2: Flop. I have always said flop.

Candidates flip-flop all the time. Successful ones do it with skill to where you wouldn't notice. Ones like Romney do it with the fevered arm-flapping of desperation.

Posted by: PaulW on March 25, 2010 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

In the Republican universe, alternate realities pop in and out of existence like bubbles in champagne. None of them mean a thing unless the Democrats call them out early and often -- and every time there's a TV camera in sight.

Posted by: beep52 on March 25, 2010 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

"It's tempting to think Romney should try to change the subject to an issue where he's stronger, but the truth is, I don't know what that might be."

I strong hint for you Steve...

In 1984, Romney founded Bain Capital, one of the nation's most successful vulture capital and investment companies.

Willard is really good at taking over enterprises and killing jobs in them. His real claim to fame would be to accurately boast that as a businessman he put more workers out of jobs than any other politician in history! And he is willing to do it for the entire country!

Posted by: SadOldVet on March 25, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

The REALLY interesting thing to me is that in this mornning's Deseret News (a newspaper wholly owned and operated by the LDS; it serves UT but is the equivalent of a national paper for Mormons) the reaction to another Romney run in two different stories is very cool. That doesn't mean for one minute that IF he were the nominee they wouldn't all be voting and campaigning for him. But if they feel his time has come and gone that feeling must be magnified in the non-LDS population.

Posted by: rainey on March 25, 2010 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Mitt Romney. Empty shirt.

Posted by: JPS on March 25, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

@ doubtful: don't think we'll have to worry about that...
o/t: this "repubs/teabaggers as children who can't control their emotions" is taking off like no other anti-gop meme i've seen... i think there's so much pent-up outrage at the teabaggers & their gop enablers right now... this is a great way of expressing it and it drives them crazy b/c the only way they can counter it is to act responsibly... or throw another temper tantrum.

Posted by: ulrich on March 25, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The problem for Republicans is that they require their candidates to tack so far to the right they become downright clownish. In Romney's case it is even worse. Mitt has an actual record of accomplishments. The last thing a Republican candidate needs is a record of genuine accomplishments. Republican theology demands devotion to the God Ronald Reagan who's mantra is that the government is the problem and not the solution. Mitt Romney's accomplishments prove that he is not a true believer.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 25, 2010 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

If you look into Romney's eyes you can see the back of his head.

Posted by: John Henry on March 25, 2010 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

What an idiot. Doesn't he realize he's perfectly positioned for 2012 if the Health Plan turns out to be popular?

Posted by: Boronx on March 25, 2010 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Well I learned a long time ago that if you don't like what Rommney thinks all you have to do is wait a minute.

Posted by: Bill on March 25, 2010 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Thank goodness for the Internet and YouTube that forever immortalizes past statements. There's no longer any way to hide from them. Of course Republicans will still say they were misquoted or taken out of context and many of their followers will accept that in the face of these videos.

Posted by: phil28 on March 25, 2010 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK
If you look into Romney's eyes you can see the back of his head.

Q: How do you put a sparkle in Mitt Romney's eye?

A: Shine a light in his ear.

Posted by: noncarb on March 25, 2010 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Muttonhead Mitt"?
"Mystery-Meat Mitt"?
"Mutable Mitt"?
"Mendacious Mitt"?
"Moral-Midget Mitt"?
Heck, with that crowd, even just "Massachusetts Mitt" would be effective.

But of course the one that would have the greatest impact on the teabeggars (getting them to stay home, that is; they'd clearly never vote for anyone w/a "D" attached) is the one no Dem/progressive can ever be publicly attached to. But IIRC, KKKarl Rove was the KKKIng of the "whisper campaign," and I personally would have no problem with -- less than no problem with, a Kelvin zero problem with:
"Mormon Mitt"

Posted by: smartalek on March 25, 2010 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Romney is certainly a strong contender for King of The Flip-Flop but let's not forget John McCain is certainly a very strong challenger for the title.

Posted by: The Fool on March 26, 2010 at 7:07 AM | PERMALINK

You suggest that Romney has contradicted himself by arguing that a federal mandate is unconstitutional, despite the fact that the Massachusetts law includes a mandate. This isn't actually a contradiction. The US Constitution allows states to do some things that the federal government can't. Although I think the argument that Congress can't impose a mandate to buy health insurance under its commerce or taxation powers is very weak, there is absolutely no plausible argument whatsoever that the states don't have the authority to impose similar mandates.

Posted by: Will on March 26, 2010 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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