Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 18, 2011

ROMNEY'S ALLIES-TURNED-CRITICS HAVE SOME EXPLAINING TO DO.... It's easy to forget, three years later, but in the 2008 race for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney actually enjoyed considerable conservative support. Giuliani was too liberal on too many issues, Huckabee didn't care about national security or foreign policy, and McCain never enjoyed strong ties to the hard-right base.

It's exactly why we saw folks like Jim DeMint, Rick Santorum, and the editorial board of the Weekly Standard rally behind Romney's ultimately unsuccessful campaign.

But like Greg Sargent, I find it deeply amusing to see these same folks scramble to distance themselves from Romney, in large part because of the only meaningful policy accomplishment of his career: health care reform in Massachusetts.

DeMint, as we discussed yesterday, wants Romney to "admit" that his achievement, which has proven to be quite successful, was a "colossal mistake." Today, Santorum offered a similar sentiment.

As Greg notes, just as DeMint approved of Romney's health care policy three years ago, Santorum had no questions about Romney's commitment to conservative principles when he endorsed the governor in '08.

According to Santorum, Romney believes in "government control of the health care system." It doesn't get dirtier than that. Yet it turns out that Santorum endorsed Romney back in 2008, in the full knowledge that Romney had passed Romneycare. Why? Here's why:

"Governor Romney is the candidate who will stand up for the conservative principles that we hold dear...Governor Romney has a deep understanding of the important issues confronting our country today, and he is the clear conservative candidate that can go into the general election with a united Republican Party."

For Romney, this is obviously a mess. He's going to get slammed, and perhaps even defeated, for supporting a policy that conservatives used to be entirely comfortable with. Hell, in DeMint's case, the "colossal mistake" of a heath care policy helped Romney earn an endorsement in the first place.

But putting aside the former governor's obvious predicament, I still think there's an important challenge facing everyone on the right who backed Romney three years ago, and who wants him to apologize for health care now. Either these folks (a) endorsed Romney for president without even looking at his sole accomplishment; or (b) they need to admit a policy they liked in 2008 is an example of radical liberalism in 2011.

Indeed, I'm not inclined to give GOP presidential candidates advice, but this strikes me as a sensible way for Romney to get off the ropes on this issue. When pressed for a reversal, Romney can say, for example, "I support the same policy Rick Santorum and Jim DeMint approved of a few years ago. I haven't changed; why have they?"

Steve Benen 4:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (10)

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"I support the same policy Rick Santorum and Jim DeMint approved of a few years ago. I haven't changed; why have they?"

Are you under the strange impression that consistency is important to the republican base?

The individual mandate was a R idea, with many sponsors in during the Clinton healthcare party. None of those sponsors are at all embarrassed to shout now that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

Posted by: foosion on March 18, 2011 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

time for another reinvention...?

Posted by: Kill Bill on March 18, 2011 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Since the dawn of humanity, whores and politicians have said and done whatever achieved their goal. Move along, folks, nothing new here. . .

Posted by: DAY on March 18, 2011 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans. They hate everybody. Especially each other.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 18, 2011 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

But... but..... you're missing the point. It was A-OK before that foreign black dude pushed for it. Now, not. Jeez. Gotta stop the foreign black dude no matter what.

Posted by: captain obvious on March 18, 2011 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe there is a secret motivation for attacking Romney--by attacking him from the right, they are trying to assure moderates and independents that Romney is not a far-right wingnut.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on March 18, 2011 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

The epidemic memory hole in this country guarantees no one will remember three years ago, and most people don't pay attention anyway. Romney is his own worst enemy because he stands for nothing, and is the definition of a political whore. There is virtually no position that he's taken that he hasn't reversed himself on. He's absolutely been on two sides of every issue, and it doesn't appear that will change.

But the Koch brothers will try to buy him the election regardless, and they may succeed by just giving the American people more memory loss pills disguised as potassium iodide.

Posted by: rrk1 on March 18, 2011 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

"...they are trying to assure moderates and independents that Romney is not a far-right wingnut." Daryl McCullough @ 5:45 PM.

That would make sense only if Romney already had the nomination and was campaigning in the general election. He doesn't and isn't.
And won't...

Posted by: Doug on March 18, 2011 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

"I support the same policy Rick Santorum and Jim DeMint approved of a few years ago. I haven't changed; why have they?" Unfortunately, Romney HAS changed; this would actually be yet another flipflop.

Posted by: Ken D. on March 18, 2011 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Steve. Just like to say I absolutely love reading your work here on the Washington monthly.

I think you may find this article interesting. I'm sure you already knew most if not all of the things posted in it, but it's a nice summary of how far rightwing the right has gone. Republican presidents that would NEVER have any place within today's Republican (or tea) party:

http://alphanovus.org/?p=256

Posted by: Bobber on March 19, 2011 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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