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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, May 13, 2011

Political quicksand

The pounding Mitt Romney is taking from the right on health care is almost enough to make you feel sorry for him. Until you realize he’s in the mess because of his own wanderin’ ways.

Standing up for the Massachusetts law – and the individual mandate he championed – seemed out of character for the master of the political flip-flop. In one sense, the University of Michigan speech was a coming out of a different sort – standing up for what he believed.
"A lot of pundits around the nation are saying that I should just stand up and say this whole thing was a mistake, that it was a boneheaded idea and I should just admit it," Romney said. "But there’s only one problem with that: It wouldn’t be honest. I, in fact, did what I believed was right for the people of my state."
The problem is that Romney may finally be taking a principled, if highly nuanced stance, at exactly the wrong time. He’s calling for a radically different model to replace the federal law conservatives charge him with birthing. It includes no mandate for individual coverage, and changes tax laws to encourage people to buy their own portable insurance rather than relying on their employer’s coverage.

Conservative warriors like Dr. Rand Paul, the Tea Party darling senator from Kentucky, equates believing in a right to heath care to believing in a right to slavery:
"With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. It means that you’re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses."
Leave aside, if you can, the fact this is a senator from who hails from a slave-holding state where bookstores have sections labeled "The War of Northern Aggression." Focus instead on the fact this is a man who has made a pretty substantial living by being paid for his services as a medical doctor.

The party of Lincoln has sailed so far off the right edge there aren’t enough flip-flips in Romney to catch up.
"I can tell you right now, that’s not going to satisfy the average caucus-goer here in Iowa,’" said Steve Scheffler, chairman of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition and a member of the Republican National Committee. “A speech defending any kind of mandate is not what caucus-goers want to hear. I don’t know how he can condemn ObamaCare if he’s still defending his plan."
And that is Myth’s ultimate dilemma. He may well be the most adult of the GOP candidates, the one who could give Barack Obama a run for his money. But his chances of emerging from the nomination fight unscarred – or without serious acrobatic injuries – are slim indeed.

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