In the Arena


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As Adam Sorensen points out below, Mitt Romney is having a heckuva time trying to explain why doing the right thing–introducing universal health care with an individual mandate–was the wrong thing in Massachusetts. The problem when a politician starts making an argument he doesn’t really believe is that there are bound to be loose ends. Here’s one hilarious howler:

Our experiment wasn’t perfect—some things worked, some didn’t, and some things I’d change. One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover.

To which one can only ask: What about Medicare? That was one-size-fits-all. It usurped states’ rights to deny health care to the elderly. And it’s wildly popular. I don’t suppose Romney is against that.

Romney remains a mystery to me: He’s smart, he was a good governor, he’s essentially a responsible moderate-conservative…but he has made an utter fool of himself flip-flopping and fudging–and taking wildly stupid positions (against the START treaty, for example) on issues about which he knows little or nothing. It almost seems a personality disorder. In this case, his efforts to distance himself from his own, essentially successful program, are particularly pathetic. If the man had the tiniest smidgeon of courage, he would make a conservative argument in favor of universal health care–it liberates a great deal of potential economic energy (all those would-be entrepreneurs now stuck in stultifying corporate jobs because they don’t want to leave their health plans). Or he would simply plead humanity: it’s inhumane for an industrial giant not provide health care for all its citizens.

But no. Instead we get the embarrassing spectacle of an intelligent man acting like a semi-coherent jerk.