The Corner

Romney and Health Care

Jonathan Chait writes:

I’d also be curious to hear from some conservatives about how they see this. In 2008, nearly all of them were fine with Romney’s health care plan. (National Review endorsed Romney for president.) Now, to a man, nearly all of them believe the imposition of a regulate/subsidize/mandate scheme represents one of the worst catastrophes in American history. How do they account for their dramatic change of mind?

I can speak only for myself: Romney was not my first choice, but he was my second. I never liked his Massachusetts health-care plan and said so at the time, but it didn’t render him unacceptable to me. He wasn’t running on a federal version of that plan, which would have rendered him unacceptable in my eyes.

He still isn’t. So what’s changed? Only the political context, which is to say: everything. It seems to me to be pretty important for conservatism that Republicans run on a platform of repeal-and-replace in 2012, and Romney does not seem like a credible carrier of that message. That is especially the case since he is so defensive about how well his Massachusetts reform is supposedly working out.

If Stupak and co. had held firm and the health-care bill had died in the House, things would look very different. The fact that Romney had supported a state-level policy that resembled Obamacare would still have been a mark against him, in my view, but the issue would not have had the importance it now has.

In my view, then, Romney’s health-care record is and should be a much bigger hurdle for him to overcome this time.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Omnibus Disgrace

The omnibus spending bill was crafted in secret and will be passed under pressure; raises discretionary spending as the national debt grows; and fails to deliver on any major GOP priorities except increased defense spending. What might turn out to be the signature achievement of unified Republican government this ... Read More

Thursday Links

It's William Shatner's birthday: Here he is in 1978 'singing' Rocket Man, plus a Star Trek/Monty Python mashup. Sold: Isaac Newton’s Notes on the Philosopher’s Stone. It was a long time before anyone admitted that he was interested in alchemy. High-tech forgery: Computer-generated 'Rembrandt' ... Read More

Korea: A Deadly Question

Olympic Games often have political significance, as in 1936 and as in the Olympics just past -- the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Those Games seemed as much political as athletic. I talk about this with Michael Breen on my latest Q&A. Breen is one of our best Korea-watchers, one of our soundest ... Read More
Film & TV

Superannuated ‘Idol’

In the pilot episode of Fox’s American Idol, Simon Cowell defined the show’s thesis: “We are going to tell people who cannot sing and have no talent that they have no talent. And that never makes you popular.” The show’s producers and its three judges -- Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson -- kept ... Read More