Romney’s got issues. He just doesn’t get it. Or he really is Dukakis part 2. Or all he really wanted was the nomination to prove something to daddy and will now knock about the nation for a few months kissing babies, shaking hands, then go home to his pools and jet skis.
His campaign indicated this week that Justice Roberts’ declaration that the healthcare mandate is a tax was, in fact, wrong. Camp Romney says it’s a penalty.
Whether it’s a tax or a penalty is beside the point politically. Romney was handed a huge gift by Roberts and he’s decided to toss it to the side of the road and drive off. This is dumb on its face. Breathtakingly dumb. Romney not running against Obamacare in 2012 is like FDR not running against Hoover and the Depression in 1932. Even I can thread the Romneycare V. Obamacare needle in a few words: In our system states have the right to craft solutions with powers the Feds don’t and should not have. Why would Mittens ignore such an easy talking point?
The short answer: He doesn’t want or expect to win. This rings false to me. I believe he wants to win very much. The more logical answer is he expects to hammer Obama on the economy, win, and wants wiggle room as President to uphold the mandate. Like Roberts, he’s a corporate robot and the Supreme Court handed the power of the IRS to Big Insurance last week in a big way. Romney has no intention of taking that power back once installed. Mitch McConnell telegraphed the same meme. No establishment Republican can stomach defunding a large corporate windfall. They won’t do it.
But – Can Romney hope to win without the Right flank on the GOP? Maybe – if Wall Street decides to throw the election his way in the Fall. (See 2008.) This is a high risk assumption. I speculated earlier this year that Romney may not understand the Chicago Mob mentality of the Obama campaign. Even if all the billionaires pull out the stops for Romney it may not be enough without the juice anti-Obamacare fury provides. The Obama campaign is vicious. Obama (and Ms. Jarrett) will do pretty much anything to win. Does Mittens understand this? I’m doubtful. Romney is relying on another economic crash now exclusively. Will this happen? It might. And it might not. Is high unemployment alone enough to sink Obama? Maybe. I’d not count on it. If it was Romney would be polling better. By ignoring the Obamatax, Romney is looking Roberts’ gift horse…in the mouth. Ditching your base in a close election is dumb, dumb, dumb.
My gut check election call is – surprisingly, given the week’s news – swinging back to an Obama win. Romney is being played. Or doesn’t really want to win. Or he is a very rich, very foolish man.