I know, I know, Mitt Romney is impressing conservative folks all over the place as an honest-to-Reagan conservative, and a real presidential contender. So let me just say what any number of folks who actually live in the state he’s supposedly governed for the last four years think:
It’s not happening. He’s done. He’s got absolutely no shot whatsoever at either winning the GOP nomination, or getting elected president.
Some folks have brought up his religion as a sticking point for evangelicals in the GOP. Actually, I don’t think this will take all that much away from him. Ideologically, he’s been reinventing himself as a good pal of the Religious Right, and these folks know where their bread is buttered, regardless of the actual personal details of their candidates. If Reagan could be a divorcee, Romney can be a Mormon. Neither they nor we should make all that much of his religion.
But speaking of the Religious Right, eventually it’s going to come out that Romney has been all over the map on abortion. In 1994 he ran as a pro-choice candidate. 2002 it was barely an issue. The last I heard from him on that issue, he was trying to position himself as “personally pro-life”. Translate that into actual English, and it means “pro-choice.” That means that John McCain — apparently no friend of the Religious Right — is (depending on how Mitt’s feeling that day) to the right of Mitt on abortion.
Much more after the flip …
Furthermore, we’ve got the Big Dig. Yeah, Mitt tried to get the ‘Pike Authority under his thumb for a few years, and finally got it. That would have been a good move if he had been the hands-on managerial type we thought he was, and was planning on being around for a few more years to sort this thing out. As it stands, he appointed a crony (a Nice Guy by all accounts, but still a certified Mass GOP crony) instead of a bona-fide construction expert to oversee the Big Dig, and then let said Nice Guy contract with Bechtel again. Do you really think he can get away with “I wouldn’t have done that” when the national scrutiny hits? Now he tells us the tunnel’s safe; Is anyone ready to say, “Well, if the Governor said it’s fine, then it’s fine”? (Wouldn’t it be great if you could say that about the Governor, whoever it was?)
In any event, I think it’s better than even odds that Mitt’s hard hat is going to fit about as well as Dukakis’s tank helmet. And that’s not a good look for ’08.
Romney will doubtless also point to the health care bill as a major accomplishment. And insofar as he didn’t get in the way as much as he could have, sure, he gets some credit. Many people have coverage now that didn’t before. However, it will be pointed out that Romney’s contribution to the law is by far the most controversial part — even more so than the employer assessment, which even employers largely support. I’m deeply skeptical how that’s going to work out for the people who don’t make tons of money, and who are most vulnerable to losing their insurance. As it stands, either a.) they’ll be mandated to spend tons of money on good insurance; b.) they’ll be mandated to spend a fair amount on lousy, swiss-cheese coverage, or c.) the status quo will hold, that of living paycheck to paycheck and lacking insurance. When that status quo is the best of the three options the governor gives you, you have to wonder exactly how he’s helping you out.
No amount of Mitt’s free-market idolatry actually cures sickness or delivers babies, and this problem gets scarier and more immediate to more people all the time. I’m not certain at all that the health care law will fail; but I do know that Mitt’s contribution to that law — if it’s actually strictly implemented — will end up as bitter medicine indeed to many people.
Look, Mitt’s only been Governor for four years, which would be scant experience even under the best of circumstances, assuming a genuine record of accomplishment. But Mitt mostly abdicated the throne two years ago after the Dems opened up a can on his legislative candidates. Why that failure would make one think, “Hey, maybe I should be President” … I don’t know. But really, he was only full-time Governor for two years; bored, catty and absent ever since. People embraced Deval Patrick so warmly, and gave him such a resounding victory, largely because Patrick was willing to raise expectations about the job he might do — and because it was widely perceived that there was a vacuum of active, involved, hands-on leadership from the top.
I don’t know, maybe I’m naive, but I kind of think you have to actually accomplish something, build up some good will, and be well-thought-of in your (putative) home state for people to take you seriously as a Presidential candidate. Unfortunately for Mitt, if he were to actually be an effective, engaged governor in our state, he would make himself utterly unacceptable to the GOP base. (And yes, he should have thought about that before he parachuted in to run the first time — [what was wrong with Michigan, anyway? http://www.boston.co…)
The serious attention his campaign has received has a decidedly flavor-of-the-week quality to it; what happens when people drill a little deeper into his record? Cracks, leaks, bent positions, and the inevitable cave-in to the far right. In the long run, he’s just too transparent to take seriously.
You smell something? Toast?