“The Man Who Likes Mandates”

Quickly, before the poor sick kid wakes. Bill Kristol effieciently summarizes the worst of Romney’s problems. He writes:

Why is there still so much resistance among Republican primary voters to Mitt Romney, the likely but not inevitable GOP nominee? Perhaps the deepest reason is this: At a moment in history when we need a bold commitment to reform, a fundamental willingness to limit the state and revitalize self-government, Romney’s achievements and qualifications seem out of step with the times.

Consider a revealing debate moment. It’s not from this year’s campaign but from 2008, when Obamacare did not yet exist. Here’s an exchange from the debate among Republican candidates at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire on January 5 that year:

* * *

Charlie Gibson: Governor Romney’s system has mandates in Massachusetts, although you backed away from mandates on a national basis.

Mitt Romney: No, no, I like mandates. The mandates work.

Fred Thompson: I beg your pardon? I didn’t know you were going to admit that. You like mandates.

Romney: Let me—let me—oh, absolutely. Let me tell you what kind of mandates I like, Fred, which is this. If it weren’t .  .  .

Thompson: The ones you come up with.

(Laughter)

Romney: Here’s my view: If somebody—if somebody can afford insurance and decides not to buy it, and then they get sick, they ought to pay their own way, as opposed to expect the government to pay their way. And that’s an American principle. That’s a principle of personal responsibility.

So, I said this: If you can afford to buy insurance, then buy it. You don’t have to, if you don’t want to buy it, but then you got to put enough money aside that you can pay your own way, because what we’re not going to do is say, as we saw more and more people .  .  .

Gibson: Governor, you imposed tax penalties in Massachusetts.

Enough. This makes my already aching head hurt worse.  Read the rest of the debate transcript and Kristol’s conclusions. The best of it:

Romneycare was an understandable effort to fix the system over which Mitt Romney presided in Massachusetts. But the country has changed markedly in the last six years—without a corresponding change in Romney’s views. If our current problems lent themselves to technocratic and managerial fixes, Romney could be a reasonably compelling candidate. But they don’t.

Precisely. We’ve heard so much about the wonders of the techocratic elite running the show in this administration. That’s enough for me.

Related: Allapundit answers a zinger of a question:

Exit question via the Atlantic: Has Romney run a bad campaign? I honestly don’t know how to answer it. On the one hand, he’s got the best organization and the best fundraising by a country mile. On the other hand, he’s facing two has-beens running barebones operations and is still struggling to win. On the other other hand, it’s astounding that a candidate as widely disliked and distrusted by the base as Romney has the pole position on the nomination. He’s actually done better than McCain in a majority of the primaries held so far.

Pardon my laughter. The last line gets me. He’s done better than McCain. That ended so well for us, no? The sickly moderate who could unite us all and who didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell until he picked a fiery running mate? Oh, yeah. Him. Great pattern to note.

Ah, time’s up!

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