Ever since Hunter S. Thompson died six years ago, few writers have had the ability to turn a phase, particularly in making a well timed insult, as Ann Coulter. She is certainly the master of the written put-down, and I would have to say that Coulter comes close to Dennis Miller in the oral. Her bomb-throwing reputation resulted in a caution from Canadian officials that she might run afoul of Canada’s” hate speech” laws. Hate, in that country, I suppose, can be defined as rhetoric that can be “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open” (Justice Brennan’s words). But not here, yet anyway. Ms. Coulter is an unabashed conservative, though not always sympathetic with libertarian beliefs, hence, my occasional disagreement with her positions. I also think she preaches reassurance to her own converts a bit too much. But Ann frequently makes apt observations, and in her 11/16/2011 column (link) she makes some that are particularly timely. This one boils down to all but one of the Republican candidates playing the “I’m more conservative than the next guy” game and self destructing in the process. The one, of course is former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
Everyone knows the nominee is going to be Romney, Coulter says. She goes on to opine “that’s not so bad if you think the most important issues in this election are defeating Obama and repealing Obamacare. Which they are. Weekly Standard contributor Jeffrey Anderson makes a convincing case for that in the current issue essay “It’s the Obamacare, Stupid.” Anderson point’s out that the overall economy and unemployment can be laid as much at the feet of Congress, the House now controlled by Republicans, as the at those of the President. But the reason the Republicans now have a solid majority there and effective veto on the Senate’s advice and consent process is Obamacare. “Republicans didn’t get elected in 2010 because of voters’ dissatisfaction with the Democrats’ handling of the economy. They got elected because the Democrats openly and arrogantly ignored the voters’ will in passing the monstrosity that is Obamacare—and because Republicans stood firmly, resolutely, unflinchingly for Obamacare’s repeal.” Anderson goes on to cite the evidence as to why those Democrats in less than solid districts lost. Anderson’s essay is here.
Coulter argues that there may be better ways to stop Obamacare than Romney, but, unfortunately, they’re not available right now.
With conservatives, Romney’s negatives are his Mormon religion and Massachusetts’s “Romneycare” which many regard as the blueprint for Obamacare. With liberals, his negatives are his Mormon religion, and – well he’s a Republican and is for limited government, and most other ideas fiscal conservatives believe in.
If we were living before the 1960s, Romney’s support of the Massachusetts medical insurance law and why it is not inconsistent to oppose a similar federal program would be easy to explain to most voters. It’s called federalism, stupid. Schools have ill taught history and civics for the past half-century, and, as a result, few adults other than lawyers and political scientists have any idea what that means. The responsibility for governing this nation is supposed to be divided between the states and the federal government. The powers of both are limited by the Constitution. Without going into a dissertation on the division of federal-state power, issues involving health, safety, education, and morals, have been generally recognized as state functions. Historically, the national government is responsible for foreign relations, common defense, establishing a monetary system, regulating interstate commerce, and ensuring that states equal protection of the laws for all persons similarly situated. The last century saw an expansion of power in the national government. There are many reasons for this, too involved to go into here. The bottom line is that medical services delivery and funding is a state government function. Massachusetts can do it one way; Texas can do it differently. Romney can advocate a program for the state of which he is governor. He can legitimately say it is not a federal function when he is President. That is not “flip-flopping” – it is principled federalism.
Romney’s membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints draws fire from both ends of the spectrum. Conservatives fret about the church’s past sanction of polygamous practices, and the LDS belief system in general. Liberals do not like the church’s condemnation of homosexuality and its past racism which regarded black people as descendants and consequent soul-mates of Cain (Abel’s brother, not Herman).
These are all non-issues, at least they should be for the right. Romney’s religious persuasion should not, and probably will not, keep conservatives from voting for him. Certainly that is true, if they are convinced abstention would be a vote for Obama (obviously, no conservative would vote for Obama against anyone to the right of Fidel Castro, assuming the Cuban dictator is still alive at election time next year). Especially if Romney makes it clear that his Mormon faith will not cause him, as President, to side with the left on any moral issue. Many may believe that Mitt is a liberal in disguise. He’s not. I believe he is business-friendly (but not a crony capitalist) center-right realist who will dance with those who bring him, those of like persuasion – the independent voters.
So far, he seems to be playing the hedgehog defense and hunkering down. Just enough exposure so no one forgets him; not saying anything that could be embarrassing – now or later. That is good strategy, and it has the plus of indicating the good judgment that makes him Presidential material.