After my last post, a friend of mine directed me to an article in Salon which points out that Romney can’t run on his most significant achievement – passing universal healthcare coverage in Massachusetts. Obama co-opted it and the GOP vilified it, so Romney’s had to campaign on repealing Obamacare. It was the one issue the Republican might have used to convince voters that he cares about them, that he understands their struggles, and it’s gone. When I read the Salon piece, I felt kind of sorry for Mitt Romney for a moment. It was the way I so often felt about John McCain in 2008; a sadness for him that he had been forced so far to the right by the most vocal, rabid voices in his party. But the feeling quickly passed. Whatever McCain’s motivations were, he made the choice to abandon his deeply held convictions to become his party’s nominee. To do that, he had to convince himself that he believed a lot of the far-right nonsense. He couldn’t just lie, he had to believe the lie himself. The tragedy of John McCain was that his party had no use for him as coalition-building moderate, a war hero who stood up for the Geneva Conventions. But McCain needed the party; somehow, he needed the validation so much that he gave up all that was special about him for a shot at the presidency. It’s tragic, and I say that without any irony or sarcasm. McCain had been a great man, with deeply-held convictions, but he sold himself out and got nothing in return.
That is not the story of Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney will say anything, take any position, if he thinks it will appeal to voters. He has demonstrated for months that he will lie, easily and often. In abandoning support for universal healthcare, Romney didn’t turn away from his core principles. Nothing in his biography suggests that universal coverage has ever meant anything to him. It was popular in Massachusetts. The nation was headed for healthcare reform, and with his presidential aspirations, it seemed to be a shrewd move. It didn’t pay off because his party lost its collective damn mind, but his work on healthcare had never reflected Mitt Romney’s true convictions. Mitt Romney’s True Conviction is simply “The Best for Mitt Romney.” This was his motivation when he was a young man protesting against opposing the draft (seriously, where does the GOP find these people?), while getting four years of deferments himself. The Best for Mitt Romney was his guiding star as he built a firm that sucked all the value out of the American companies for no reason other than exponentially increasing his own wealth and the wealth of a handful of other ludicrously wealthy individuals.* And since he entered politics, it has been his only True North. Mitt Romney doesn’t care about jobs, the environment, Israel, Iran, government regulations, aborted babies, farmers, auto workers, children, teachers, healthcare, the troops, or even taxes. Mitt Romney cares only for Mitt Romney – and if changing the tax code helps Mitt Romney, then that’s what Mitt Romney will do. Abandoning universal healthcare put him in a position to improve the world for Mitt Romney, so he pivoted on a dime. It’s what makes it so easy for him to shift positions – none of them have ever been anything but a means to his only end. Truth has no hold on him, because the Truth does not advance the cause of Romney’s Own Good. It’s a mind-bogglingly simple understanding of self-interest. We’ve had tons of corrupt pols in our history, but even they seemed to have some ethic outside of their own enrichment, or at least to be aware of the game they were playing with the world. Not so with Mitt Romney. He appears to be wholly unconcerned with ethics, with truth, with right or wrong. He has no political philosophy at all. Its not a that he’s a craven opportunist, or has been bullied to the right by his party. He’s just truly, deeply committed to making this a Better World for Mitt Romney.
“These colors really bring out my Mitt Romneyness. Vertical stripes would make me look taller, though. Somebody get on that.”
* Yes, I am going to keep linking to that Rolling Stone article about Bain in every single post until you’ve all read it, why do you ask?