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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Killing him softly

It appears the Boston Globe has discovered the ultimate weapon to do in the candidacy of Mitt Romney and highlight how far over the right edge the Republican Party has tumbled. The truth.

In the first of what's promised to be multi-part series on Romney and health care, reporter Brian Mooney digs out some quotes that are likely to be poisonous in the minds of the right wing fringe that decides the GOP nominee. Discussing Romney's advocacy of the individual mandate, the Globe quotes a 2003 governor speaking to reporters:
“No more free riding, if you will, where an individual says: ‘I’m not going to pay, even though I can afford it.’ . . . It’s the ultimate conservative idea, which is that people . . . don’t look to government to take care of them if they can afford to take care of themselves.’’
It certainly looked like conservative theology at the time: Massachusetts liberals, this one included, balked at requiring individuals having to pay while the businesses that did not provide insurance options for their employees walked away scot-free.

The grand compromise of mandates all around got the bill into law -- even though Romney, one eye to the White House. immediately flipped on the business piece only to be overridden, as he knew he would be, by the Democratic Legislature.

Mooney also exhumed the other piece of Heritage Foundation health care orthodoxy that has since morphed into dirty words after adoption by federal legislators: insurance exchanges:
[Romney aide Timothy] Murphy had a “eureka moment’’ after a meeting with officials of the conservative Heritage Foundation. He was raving about their concept of an “exchange’’ to provide one-stop shopping for small businesses and individuals seeking health coverage from commercial insurers. This would also prove a forerunner to Obama’s national plan.
The unkindest cut of all was recounting the thaw -- pragmatic as it might have been -- between Romney and Ted Kennedy, who had eviscerated the man who tried to move to his left in the 1994 Senate race.
“I’ve never been one for individual mandates in the past, but I do think that the way this has been proposed, in that everybody will do their part, that’s a compromise,’’ Kennedy said. “I can buy into that.’’
But perhaps Romney himself delivered the coda in the Faneuil Hall bill-signed, where he was flanked by Kennedy and then Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi:
“My son said that having Senator Kennedy and me together like this on the stage, behind the same piece of landmark legislation, will help slow global warming. That’s because hell has frozen over,’’ Romney said to hearty laughs.
So there you have it: Romney the politician, negotiating his way to a significant piece of legislation he could herald in his 2008 presidential run only to see it become an albatross as his party abandoned long-held principles just to spite a Democratic president they disdain as a socialist.

The irony is that Romney, starting at the other flank, reached the same middle ground as Barack Obama. It really should have been a centerpiece of a presidential run and could serve Romney well in a 2012 general election -- if he gets that far after being chased by right wing zealots and if he doesn't do yet another triple somersault with a back flip on his beliefs.

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