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Guest Editorial: Tom Roeser
June 3, 2011

Can Romney Overcome RomneyCare?
by Thomas F. Roeser
fitzgerald griffin foundation

Many so-called “business approach” candidates — especially liberal Republican ones — fail to start first with the question: is this a job government ought to do? Mitt failed to ask this question first.

     Q.  Please explain.
     A.  Relativists, ultra-pragmatists — and that approach made Mitt Romney a multi-millionaire in business — see a problem, insist there should be a solution, and hire an army of experts to crunch numbers and come up with a popular liberal, governmental solution because the trend lies that way with government leading the way. Traditional conservative thinkers ponder a problem, determine if government or private sector is the route to the solution and postulate from there. 

In 1994 when he ran for the Senate against Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts a heavily pro-abort state, Mitt Romney decided he would craft a strategy on abortion thusly: Under Roe v. Wade legal abortion is the law of the land.  I happen to oppose abortion but the law is the law and I respect a woman’s right to make that choice freely.
He had calculated that a pro-abort answer was correct for his candidacy and then crafted a rationale that seemed to hint he was more amenable than Kennedy to pro-life views. A so-called businessman’s pragmatic “solution.”

But ironically Kennedy won the argument by pointing out that if Romney felt personally abortion was wrong, a moral evil, he should forthrightly oppose it and seek to root it out.   It was the closest election Kennedy ever won — and at the beginning Romney was leading him — but the tables turned ever so slightly and Romney’s wobbliness on abortion helped Kennedy a fast-and-forever pro-abort.  

Years later, when he planned a run for president, Romney said his views on abortion were "developing” and came out as a full-blown pro-lifer but was tied up trying to reconcile his earlier and present views and show that he had not — as suspicioned — changed his sails to square with the national GOP’s consensus on pro-life.

     Q.  Now on RomneyCare…
     A. On RomneyCare, he made the same basic error—calculating via hunch that universal health care was the wave of the future. As Massachusetts governor, he hired an army of experts, drafted the legislation and added some juicy pro-Republican parts  such as tort reform. But in the bill was the mandate that everyone in the state had to buy health insurance or pay a penalty which is the same as contained in ObamaCare.  Because RomneyCare is a state bill it does not have the constitutional ones that ObamaCare has. 

But the thing is pesky enough.  He signed the bill with great fanfare — Ted Kennedy was there appla-uding — but now the unpopularity of ObamaCare has taken much of the issue away from him.  So until yesterday he had two strategic choices. Both unappetizing. 
He could join the full-throated Republican candidates who urge repeal of ObamaCare by saying it had already been tried in the laboratory of state government — Massachusetts — and had been shown to be inefficacious. He could thus renounce his own child.   Here he would have to confess he had been wrong.


     Q.   ..or—?
      A.   Or he could stick with RomneyCare and say it failed by failure of execution by his successors in the state. That’s the course he’s taken, and the rationale is not working. It clearly points out, as The Wall Street Journal’s lead editorial said yesterday, the fault is in Romney’s flawed philosophy and ultra-pragmatic theory of government. Too damned pragmatic by half, Junior by a man who has always been called the smartest guy in the room.

     Q.   What’s likely to happen?
     A.   Although a brilliant salesman, he’s got a lemon with this one and I can’t fathom he can make it to the finals. His game-plan is to drown out all the others with kabillions and be the last guy standing by convention-time.  I don’t think he can do it.

© 2011 by Tom Roeser. All rights reserved. This article was published originally on May 13, 2011 at TomRoser.com

Thomas F. Roeser was a radio talk show host, writer, lecturer, teacher, and former Vice President of The Quaker Oats Company of Chicago. He was both a John F. Kennedy Fellow (Harvard University), and a Woodrow Wilson International Fellow. Tom Roeser was author of the book, Father Mac: The Life and Times of Ignatius D. McDermott, Co-Founder of Chicago's Famed Haymarket Center (2002). Long-active in Chicago politics, Mr. Roeser was Chairman of Catholic Citizens of Illinois, a grassroots organization of Catholics.

© 2011 Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation