One of the things a president must do is show that he can bring people together, despite the fact that historically they have been at odds. No person can live their life and hold political positions that satisfy everyone, so a president must learn how to reconcile these differences.
Romney has decided that rather than flip-flop, he will defend his past decisions and educate his detractors. That’s a difficult stance to take. Everyone wants a candidate that agrees with them 100%, and they don’t like the idea of supporting someone who will find areas of disagreement. However, as I stated above, you can’t make everyone happy.
Palin and Giuliani have already started attacking Romney for his past signing (with vetoes over certain sections) the Massachusetts health care reform. (link) This is great news. Obama plans to use this issue as a wedge to drive Romney away from the Tea Party.
If Obama were smart, he would hide this damning issue until the very last moment, and then bring it out with just enough time for his supporters to comprehend it and react. By making it an issue early on, Romney will be able to either satisfy his detractors or show how although he doesn’t agree 100% on everything, he is still their best representative. At the same time, he can show that unlike other presidential candidates, he has what it takes to be a leader, and not a follower.
I think Romney is going about this in the right way. Get the differences aired out early. Make people aware of everything that could make them not a supporter. Staunchly defend those things worth defending, and refute those that need refuting.
On Romney’s position on health care, I don’t mind one bit, even though I wholeheartedly agree that government shouldn’t impose any mandate anything like the one in the Massachusetts health care bill. I believe the ideal solution would be to relax regulations, eliminate government participation in the health care industry, and encourage people to make their own decisions.
However, were I sitting in Governor Romney’s chair during that debate, I cannot say I would do anything differently. As governor, I need to make the best decisions I can, but ultimately realizing that I am no king and the will of the people will prevail. Massachusetts wanted a health care bill mandating insurance coverage for everyone. Had there been a public vote, it would have passed. Had Romney opposed the bill and refused to compromise, it would have passed.
Romney chose, like I would have, to tilt the debate towards the most conservative outcome possible. He worked closely with the Heritage Foundation and other conservative think tanks and found the optimum solution to his predicament. Although ultimately the parts of the bill he vetoed were overridden, he left his mark in the debate on the issue, and kept Massachusetts from collapsing.
Romney’s opponents in the primary don’t want to admit what position Romney was in or what Romney did to do the best with what he had. They’d rather pretend as if the Massachusetts health care bill was written by Governor Romney and imposed on the people above their objections, as if he were a tyrant trying to seize power and liberty from the people for his own gain. That simply isn’t the case.
Go ahead and beat the drum, go ahead and tell the world that you hate Romney because he signed parts of the so-called “Romneycare” bill, a bill that passed 100% despite his veto because the legislature had overwhelming support for it. Go ahead and try and see how long it will be before Romney’s story gets out, and whether Tea Party patriots will buy it.
If this is the only complaint people have against Romney, then Romney is a shoe-in. When you finally realize what Romney actually did, you will love him the more for it. You won’t be a lukewarm supporter. You will understand his ability to lead a liberal country and a liberal congress towards conservative results.
Imagine his ability as president! With Tea Party elements in congress, and Romney on the other side, what kind of results do you think you will see? He ran circles around the liberals in the Massachusetts legislature, gaining concessions that no liberal would otherwise concede to. Indeed, he negotiated from a position of absolute weakness into a position of power. Do you think the liberals in congress, republican or democrat, stand a chance against a Romney administration?
What do you think it will look like when the liberal majority in congress decides to extend Medicare and Social Security? With real power, plus the coalition of Tea Party members in the congress, he will actually be able to veto bad legislation and make it stick. And you know what? The liberals will love him for it, and become his followers.
What governor has that experience? What governor can lay claim to actually taking on a supermajority in their liberal legislature and gaining conservative concessions? That’s why Romney is sticking by his decision, and that’s why when the votes are counted, he’ll be president.