In Which I Defend Mitt Romney Against His Admirers
I am inclined to agree with much of what Duane Oyen says in his post below in defense of Mitt Romney's candidacy. I fear -- but am not certain, especially in the case of Rick Santorum -- that the other candidates really are impossible. I am also impressed by Governor Romney's demonstrated managerial capacity, and I worry that he lacks a quality that statesmen have always been in need of -- persuasiveness.
There is one point that Duane makes that I think needs further discussion. Here is what Duane says:
“RomneyCare” was the best available alternative to the single payer program that was inevitable had Governor Romney not been able to use persuasion and coalition-building to block it with the most free-market program possible under the circumstances, designed by the most free-market recognized conservative health care experts - Prof. Mark Pauly of Penn and AEI and Edmund Haislmaier of Heritage, all fighting against a legislature 85% controlled by the Democrats who were advised by ObamaCare’s designer Jonathan Gruber of MIT.
This claim may or may not be true. Some times it is better to go down fighting while making one's argument -- to lose temporarily in order to return later to win when things do not work out as well as the proponents of a measure predict. Politics is far less less about management than about persuasion, and what Duane describes in this passage is a compromise in which the fundamental principle that we are responsible for taking care of ourselves is sacrificed in the pursuit of a utopian end embraced by the left: universal healthcare.
But this is not the worst of it -- for when Romneycare passed its author touted it to all and sundry as "a model for the states" and even, on one occasion, as "a model for the nation." He did not say that he had made the best of a bad situation. He represented Romneycare's passage as a great victory (as you can see in the photograph above) -- which is to say, he engaged in salesmanship, and what he was selling was, by Duane's own admission, a lemon. And, if the story Duane tells is true, Romney knew perfectly well what he was then doing -- which means that he is a scoundrel.
I myself doubt that this Mitt Romney is anything of the kind. He is a Mormon and, by all accounts, the real deal -- which is to say, he is a man of high moral principles. He gives the impression of being an earnest man. Friends who know him tell me that he really is an earnest man. I cannot believe that he would be willing to promote in states other than Massachusetts a program that he was not, in fact, proud of -- a program that he regarded as a compromise measure that he supported only because the alternatives, given the character of the Massachusetts legislature, were far, far worse.
In short, I believe that Mitt Romney is what he once said he was -- "a progressive" in his "views" -- a man badly mistaken (and not apt to change his mind) but not immoral.
This may be what we have to settle for this year. But, if we do, we should do so with our eyes open. Otherwise, in the aftermath, in our enthusiasm for the man, we may well drift into defending what is indefensible.