Will ‘E Or Won’t ‘E?

Mitt Romney has declared his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination.  I don’t have a lot to say about him, other than about his declaration at the same time that one of his priorities (it’s too early to tell if it’s number one or just one of the top three or four) is the repeal of Obamacare.  My reaction:  How’s that going to get him elected?

See, Mr. Romney put something in place for Massachussetts that is virtually identical.  The main difference is, you know, he—a Republican—did it, not someone else, a Democrat.  Oh, and it’s a state thing not national.

The other potential candidates are even now working out strategies for putting Obamacare front and center as the biggest issue so they can by extension eviscerate Romney.

Which will blow up in their faces so bad!

Because…well, Republicans are big on states’ rights.  So why would something done at the state level by one of their own be a target for Party displeasure when at the same time Romney is talking about removing the national program?  Oh, right, it’s socialism.  I keep forgetting that.  But even so, how do you claim the states should have the right to decide how best to deal with these sorts of things and then denigrate the choice one state has made?

You might think this is a straw man issue because none of the other potential candidates have actually gone after Romney’s health care legacy except obliquely, but that misses the point.  The entire GOP is on record repudiating Obamacare because it’s socialistic (they claim), so they are opposed to such measures on ideological grounds.  They have to repudiate the same thing on the state level lest they risk looking obviously hypocritical.  They can’t give Romney a pass on it because they’ve spent time, rhetoric, and Party effort on denouncing the idea of such a plan.  They have set themselves up to necessarily go after one of their own.

Which leaves them with a real problem should Romney emerge as the only one able to effectively challenge Obama.  They will have spent time and energy denouncing him.  But if he gains the nomination they’ll have to pretend they think he’s great.

Of course, that will only be a problem if Romney does win the nomination.  The GOP has other problems with him.  Like he’s more or less a moderate.  Not nearly red meat enough to go against the incumbent moderate.

And also of course all this depends on whether Romney can make the charge stick that Obama has “failed America.”  I don’t think he can.  Obama has only failed the self-identified Left wing of the Democratic Party because he hasn’t followed through on may of his campaign promises—promises which, had he followed through on, would have made him an easy target for the Right.  Instead, he’s so center (and occasionally center right) that the GOP actually has some difficulty getting traction on him.  He actually hasn’t failed the Republicans, he just hasn’t gone as far as they would like.

So if the idea that Obama has failed is to  have any credibility, then it will only be a matter of pointing out who he has failed and how to show that the GOP actually doesn’t have anything to offer that’s much different.

What?  Deregulation?  I suspect they will have to tread lightly on that one after 2008, since—often ignorant though the American electorate is—most people recognize that our problems then arose from deregulation.

But even so, if that’s their main thing, then we come back to Romney and the presumed state prerogative to act in its own best interest.  Part of the GOP (those collectively known as the Tea Party wing) are on record as repudiating the very notion of regulation, so what would make it any more palatable on the state level rather than the national level?  Regulation, as everyone knows, is simply bad for business.  To hell with all the things that may need protecting from business—like the environment or education or, well, health care—what we need are jobs.

Well, yes, but that’s another fly in the pie—all that outsourcing?  Business did that.  It might be argued that they did that to avoid regulation, but that’s kind of a hostage approach.  The threat of job loss to forestall measures that, in bulk, protect.  It looks snotty when you get right down to it.  Besides, most of the job loss through outsourcing occurred during twenty years of the greatest deregulatory period we’ve seen since the 1920s.  Reagan, Bush, then Clinton couldn’t deregulate fast enough—and still all the ills we now suffer just grew and grew.  The coup de’ gras came under Bush Jr., who continued the deregulatory trend.  So who’s kidding who about the cost of regulation?

Yes, it’s going to be an interesting election cycle this time around.  The GOP will have to either change their policies or we’ll be watching them eat their own in public.

Published by Mark Tiedemann