Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Amoral Weirdness of Mitt Romney

Matt Miller, contemplating Romney's "I like to fire people" debacle, puts his finger on the thing about Romney that bothers people. As Romney complains, the "fire people" line was taken out of context. But the context it was taken out of was a lie about Obama's health care plan:

“I don’t want to live in a world where we have Obamacare telling us which insurance we have to have, which doctor we can have, which hospital we go to,” Romney said in a rare news conference Monday afternoon to clarify his remarks. “I believe in the setting as I described this morning, where people are able to choose their own doctor, choose their own insurance company. If they don’t like their insurance company or their provider, they can get rid of it.” On Tuesday he added: “I was talking about, as you know, insurance companies. We’d all like to get rid of our insurance companies — don’t want Obama to tell us we can’t.”
Which is just nuts. However it ends up working in practice, the Affordable Care Act is supposed to promote competition among insurance companies and make it easier to "fire" one company and switch to another. Romney, of all people ought to understand this, since Obama's plan is essentially a copy of the one Romney himself passed in Massachusetts:
Now, if Rick Perry had said this, you might say that the man just doesn’t know whereof he speaks. When Rush Limbaugh makes such bogus claims, you put it down to the ravings of an entertainer and propagandist. But Romney is a smart man. He’s also supposed to be a serious man, not a huckster. He knows better. Yet he’s made these outrageous false claims repeatedly. So this is a conscious, premeditated Big Lie.

Here’s another wrinkle. Romney’s passage of that health-care law – the one he’s mischaracterizing when he’s not busy running away from it – was a landmark achievement. He was the only governor who passed a bipartisan universal health-care bill. Facts are facts.

So what are we supposed to think of this man?

Here’s what we know. Romney will very casually tell the Big Lie if he thinks it will help him win. He’ll also work to enact universal health coverage if he thinks it’s a sensible path for his constituents and serves his own political ambitions once in office. Does this make him shameless and untrustworthy? A problem-solver? Both? Is belief in his own claim on power the only core conviction we can count on from Mitt Romney? 

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