It's Not You, Mitt—It's Me

The trouble with Mitt Romney


Mitt Romney not only possesses an air of real-world know-how but also has mucho smarts. I've been a reluctant apologist for him for years now.

And for those of you who believe he's out of touch with the proletariat, pick up his touching ode to the human spirit, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.

The book begins, "I hate to weed. I've hated it ever since my father put me to work weeding the garden at our home." And it only gets better.

You see. He's just like us. I hate to weed, too.

Yet, notwithstanding his many attributes and my own nagging man crush, it has become evident that Romney's is a hopeless quest for the presidency.

It is possible to see—if one dares to dream—some authentic fiscal conservative emerging to take a shot at the presidency in 2012. Though Romney has the required drive, intellect, and temperament, he is wrong on the fundamental ideological question of this time: health care.

In fact, Romney's illogical and unconvincing defense of his own health care plan not only is a deal breaker but also allows folks like White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to tell reporters that Obamacare is similar to a plan enacted (and still defended) by a leading Republican contender in 2012. And Gibbs is right.

Let's concede momentarily that the GOP will win back enough seats in 2010 to make it thornier for Democrats to push through any other comprehensive assaults on the economy. Let's concede also, then, that health care reform becomes the defining legislative accomplishment of Barack Obama's first term.

By 2012, many of the hidden costs of this reform will have surfaced, while the bulk of the alleged benefits still will not have kicked in. Barring some earth-shattering geopolitical event, candidate Romney will be impelled to spend a noteworthy chunk of his time pointing out differences and/or defending comparisons between the two plans—effectively eliminating the issue that holds potentially the greatest impact for Republicans.

Unlike Hillary Clinton on Iraq or Romney's dad, George, on Vietnam, Mitt can't claim to have been brainwashed by The Man. Not anymore. In fact, when recently asked about it, Romney, according to The Boston Globe, offered "an enthusiastic defense."

"Overall, ours is a model that works," Romney explained. "We solved our problem at the state level. Like it or not, it was a state solution. Why is it that President Obama is stepping in and saying 'one size fits all'?"

Federalism is a good argument that has nothing to do with health care reform models, as Romney knows well. Here's what he should have said years ago:

"Everyone makes mistakes. Heck, I made a huge one. My plan, first hijacked by state liberals and now copied by Barack Obama, has created a fiscal nightmare in my state—one that, according to the former Democratic treasurer, has forced us to cut back on other basic services.

"Though we promised an individual mandate would mean everyone would chip in, nearly 70 percent of the newly insured are subsidized by taxpayers—with many paying nothing. Meanwhile, health care spending in our state is 27 percent higher than the national average, and we have a shortage of doctors, to boot. And that's just for starters.

"Let me be clear. I am not here to defend Romneycare. I am here to extract my name from that botched experiment by repealing its ugly stepson, Obamacare, so Americans work together to pass genuine, common-sense, market-based reform."

Then again, it is entirely possible Romney genuinely believes his health care model works.

If that's the case, his position just doesn't cut it.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his Web site at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.


NEXT: Philip Pullman: "No One Has the Right to Spend Their Life Without Being Offended."

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  1. I’m a libertarianish conservative, but even I know that there is no way this health care bill will ever be repealed.We would need to gain 100 seats in the House and 30 in the Senate for there to even be a chance. I say move onto other issues that Obama is wrong on.

    1. Thanks, Winston Churchill Jr.

      1. “Look at me.. . I’m Winston Chruchill.”

  2. lin and the ignorant hillbilly whackjob preacher are the leading GOP contenders for the 2012 nomination, I won’t even have to pay attention. Another third party vote (libertarian unless Root gets their nomination) for me.

    1. Crap! The above should read –

      If Romney, Palin and the ignorant hillbilly whackjob preacher are the leading GOP contenders for the 2012 nomination, I won’t even have to pay attention. Another third party vote (libertarian unless Root gets their nomination) for me.

      I will use preview.
      I will use preview.
      I will use preview.
      I will use preview.

  3. I can see an EZ way to repeal the vast majority of the healthcare bill:

    Simply repeal all parts of the bill that haven’t gone into effect yet. Which would be about 99% of the bill, as of the end of this year.

    The response to opponents of repeal would be easy:

    If this provision still looks like a good idea in (2012/2013, etc.), enact it then.

    1. Or prove that the Democrats used obviously illegal/unconstitutional methods of passing the bill and retroactively get rid of it.

    2. A better idea (if the Republicrats gain majorities) would simply be foe them to not fund parts of it (hopefully “parts” being all of it).

      1. That’s Sen. McCain’s suggestion, that Republicans simply not fund the bill:

        At the very least, Republicans could refuse to fund healthcare, the Arizona Republican added.

        “You could basically repeal major provisions of it” by refusing to fund them, McCain said.

        1. That would be demagogued, effectively, by the Left.

          1. Not if the majority of people continue to hate the bill and Republicans run against the bill.

            1. People may hate the bill, but not Cindy the pancreatic cancer sufferer from Tulsa, who, they will say, will surely die if Republicans don’t fund health care.

              1. One person, what a great argument. Can Cindy not get on Medicare/Medicaid?

  4. I use preview before voting, too. I saw that Obama would be a disaster, so I voted for Babar.

    1. “You see. He’s just like us. I hate to weed, too.”

      Whether it’s pulling it or smoking it, Reason writers are obsessed with weed.

      1. I prefer to smoke it too. I don’t mind pulling it if it is smokeable.

      2. guess what I like pulling …

        1. Are you qualified to DX hernias? Or just a passing fancy?

  5. To paraprhase the great Scott Adams:

    “He has management hair”.

  6. Romney is also an incredible ignoramus on foreign policy. I guess if you thought Bush and Cheney were on the right track, then, sure, pull the lever for Romney.

  7. The thing I liked about Romney is that he’s so obviously soulless but not idiotic — he has a hasn’t-ruined-anything mediocrity that passes for competence in American politics. He doesn’t believe most of the stuff he says, but he’s willing to say anything to get the Republican base behind him. The upshot is that he might actually govern as a moderate, wanna-be technocrat.

    But I don’t believe that any more. If the majority of the country or the political class wanted something terrible (like, say, a corrupt, unconstitutional healthcare reform bill packed with special favors to the pharmaceutical and insurance companies), I’m pretty sure he would go along. I prefer principles I disagree with to no principles at all. At least I know what a wrong but principled person will do.

    1. I dunno, dude. I prefer Bill Clinton (no principles) to Fidel Castro (principles I disagree with).

  8. The only thing that will get a ‘Republican’ in the oval office in 2012 is to nominate a quasi-libertarian, so that social issues aren’t completely dominated by the Democrats, and so that economically the quasi-libertarian will provide a rational, irrefutable case for his stance that can’t logically be beaten by a liberal.

    Fiscal-conservatives, social-conservatives, war-hawks, etc. will most likely not win for quite some time.

    1. I really, really, really wish that were true.

      But there’s a reason why Republicans keep going back to social issues: They are vote getters.

      It’s simply math. Shameless gay-bashing wins you more votes than it costs. Even in 2010, and probably even in 2012.

      Not to mention The War on Drugs and other shenanigans that play well with both the base and the moderates.

      And all it takes is one sufficiently ugly international incident for carpet-bombing brown people to come back into style.

      1. Too bad Valentine’s day has been and gone…

  9. Stop beating a dead horse. Romney will not be the nominee and it won’t be because of healthcare issues. Romney comes accross as wooden and phoney. It’s a Mormon thing. See, they spend their entire lives trying to project the image of a perfectly 1950’s All-American family, while at the same time molesting their pre-school children. The guilt can’t be hidden with smiles and talk of rainbows; it always shines through.

    1. He reports-you decide.

    2. And of course the long road trip with the family dog in a crate strapped to the top of the station wagon.

    3. Don’t turn around, Gobbler, don’t turn around…oh, you turned around! The Monster Mormon is going to kill you! Gee that’s too bad.

  10. The problem with Romney is MBA thinking. Great for coordinating the Olympics. Not great for figuring out where to put the dog for a family trip in the sta-wag. The end.

    1. Ha ha! No surprise that an MBA is so easily bored by weeding, and would find it hard to believe that anyone might like weeding (or the drudgery of government and stuff; he was so easily bored as a gov). And maybe the dog incident by itself dooms him in the primaries: Republicans tend to be dog people.

    2. *&^%$#@! sorry, didn’t read Bosco’s comment before posting.

      1. Nothing to be sorry about. Never forget!

  11. “Not great for figuring out where to put the dog for a family trip in the sta-wag”

    Speaking as a federal dog, that was damned cold.

    And, for the record, fuck Mitt Romney for what he did to Massachusetts.

  12. The most important civil liberty I expect from my government, is my right to be kept alive

    – Mitt Romney on The Patriot Act



    1. Almost forgot…Fuck Mitt Romney and his “coif”.

    2. “There is more to life than surviving.”

      -Winston Smith

  13. at least Mitt is a serious thinker…

    1. Yeah, so am I, and I think he sucks balls.

  14. I’m still hoping that 2010 will turn out new GOP rising stars which may want to run in 2012. Sure it would be just like Obama running after getting elected to the Senate, but I’d rather have a libertarian Republican with somewhat lacking experience in either the Senate, House or a Governorship than the three GOP front runners who have plenty of experience in bad policy.

    1. I’m reserving my seat on the Gary Johnson bandwagon.

      He’s doomed, but I seem to like doomed candidates. I also caucused for Ron Paul.

      1. Paul – Johnson 2012!

        1. Johnson-Paul, because Johnson was a governor.

    2. What’s wrong with the Jindalator?

      1. He’s just as shiftless as Romney. The Neo-cons sold their souls for votes by ignoring reality (If you blow up my Family, I am going to be pissed etc. etc.) and getting a lot of people killed for the wrong reasons. If Jindal publicly rejects those previously held views he might be salvagable, but I am not holding my breath. To the credit of the people of Louisiana, their supposed Southern unceasing rascism did not stop them from voting in a man (albeit a toolbag) of Indian descent. Its not surprising the Democrats ignore him since his election stands against the lie that all Southerners/Republicans are inherently racist.

  15. Lack of experience strikes me as much more of a liability in a President bent on greatly expanding the state.

    Really, how much experience do you need to deregulate and close agencies?

    1. Really, how much experience do you need to deregulate and close agencies?

      Apparently more than any candidate has had in U.S. history.

  16. apparently when he says he “solved the problem at the state level” he means he made the original problem worse, rose the cost of care, ran the state into bankruptcy, forced people to buy something because they are alive, and achieved making MA’s insurance premiums become #1! that is he helped raise MA’s premiums to #1 in highest cost in the US.
    get real, Romney must like wasting money, or the GOP is suicidal. if they nominate Romney in 2012 we will be seeing 4 more years of change we can’t believe in, yes a second term for Obama. if they have any sense they will try and take advantage of the backlash against the health care bill and take the moral high ground by nominating someone who isn’t an obvious hypocrite, liar, and nutjob.

    1. The classic response to a snake problem: Release mongeese to take out snakes, then bears to take out the mongeese, then Cthulu to take out the bears. You solve one problem by creating another much worse problem. Welcome to the United States circa 2010, a nation of short-sighted babies who can’t see the destructive potential of their promises of lollipops, pony rides, and free blow jobs for everybody.

      1. Sorry, but personal bankruptcy is more important-

        38 percent of 1.5 million people annually (the majority of which are middle class)- is a huge amount.

        American Journal of Medicine-62% of all personal bankruptcies are medical related
        75% of which HAD health insurance, which concludes its study as follows-
        Medical impoverishment, although common in poor nations,
        is almost unheard of in wealthy countries other
        than the US. Most provide a stronger safety net of disability
        income support. All have some form of national
        health insurance.



        from wikipedia
        Personal bankruptcy
        This section requires expansion.
        Personal bankruptcies may be caused by a number of factors. In 2008, over 96% of all bankruptcy filings were non-business filings, and of those, approximately two-thirds were chapter 7 cases.[44]
        Although the individual causes of bankruptcy are complex and multifaceted, the majority of personal bankruptcies involve substantial medical bills.[45][46] The American Journal of Medicine says over 3 out of 5 personal bankruptcies are due to medical debt.[47]

  17. I cheated and went right to page 2 just to see…yep, two lines. BITCHES!

    I’m like Charlie Brown, and Reason keeps pulling the football away.

    And re: Romney – it’s you, Mitt – it’s not me.

    1. Yeah, I didn’t fall for it this time. Screw Reason’s office pool.

      Hear that, you SOBs? You didn’t get me this time! Ha ha!

  18. At least Romney is Pro-Fed. Our monetary policy is the best thing about this country.

  19. Romney/Perry 2012. Sponsored by Pantene.

  20. All I can say is, Word. Romney married the healthcare issue opportunistically and he is stuck with it. In true irony, he would be the Rep with the firmest standing to oppose O-care on the merits, but only IF he turned on his own little baby, Romcare. If he were going to do that he would have done it by now and if he DOES do so, miraculously, it is too late and again reveals simple opportunism. Whatever his other virtues may be, and I admit I don’t see many or mucho (or macho, I don’t know what David is refering to there) Romney is RADIOACTIVE on healthcare. Romney is RADIOACTIVE! Keep your distance. Wear protective garments. So-called Conservatives, serve him with the longest spoon you have or better yet, don’t invite him to your events. The man has no demonstrable principles at least on matters fiscal. The nation can not withstand the triangulation that this vapid creature of ambition will pursue.

  21. Romney getting elected in Massachusetts shows how brainless lefties are. Five minutes of the guy is all it takes to see he’s a phony.

  22. Right you are David.

  23. I really, truly believe that it is Romney’s vaguely Reagan-like appearance that makes conservatives swoon and forget that he was a RINO as governor.

    A little bit OT, but actually serious: Does anyone else here think a candidate with a last name that’s easier to spell or type gets better press coverage during an election?

    1. Does anyone else here think a candidate with a last name that’s easier to spell or type gets better press coverage during an election?

      Considering how easy it is to accidentally write “Osama” for “Obama,” not have it be caught by spellcheck, and be accused or all sorts of terrible things, I’d say it’s far from a hard and fast rule.

  24. Let’s see:


    I just typed in those names. Actually, typing wise, Bush would appear to be the easiest, then Ford.
    But, just because one has an eighteen inch putt to win on the 72nd hole does not mean one will win. Ask Orville Moody.

  25. wow, the same guy who wrote the smear piece “The Ron Paul Delusion” likes Mitt Romney. gee, what a surprise.

  26. Anybody the Republicrats choose will be a disaster. Instead of Coca Cola we’ll have Pepsi and a stale one at that. Don’t get your hopes up about Paul, because they’ll go out of their way to stomp on him and kick him under the couch like a dead rat.

  27. What about White Horse Prophecy?

  28. “Mitt Romney not only possesses an air of real-world know-how but also has mucho smarts. I’ve been a reluctant apologist for him for years now.”

    Wow, that explains a lot.

  29. Fuck! You! Harsanyi! Why can’t you just format your articles like a normal person and make those last two sentences appear on the first page? We don’t need 2-sentence paragraphs the entire article! Maybe your readers at the Denver Post or wherever the hell you get a paycheck from do, but cut us some fuckin slack.

    Why do I fall for that 2nd page shit every time???

  30. I’m not a member of the cult of Paul, but the fact that Harsanyi was a lot harder on Ron Paul than Mitt fucking Romney tells me everything I need to know about his “libertarian” bona fides.

  31. truth,,,,obama people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led.”
    “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.”
    “All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it.”
    “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”pelosi don’t see much future for the Americans … it’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities …obama feelings against Americanism are feelings of hatred and deep repugnance … everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold TOGTHER.They include the angry left wing bloggers who spread vicious lies and half-truths about their political adversaries… Those lies are then repeated by the duplicitous left wing media outlets who “discuss” the nonsense on air as if it has merit? The media’s justification is apparently “because it’s out there”, truth be damned. STOP THIS COMMUNIST OBAMA ,GOD HELP US ALL .THE COMMANDER ((GOD OPEN YOUR EYES)) stop the communist obama & pelosi.((open you eyes)) ,the commander

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