The Republican base loves panderers. Romney may be more obvious than most, but that won't keep voters away in the end.
In his new Washington Examiner column, Tim Carney runs through the conventional argument that GOP candidate Mitt Romney is uniquely ill-suited to challenging President Obama in 2012. "Obamacare was the catalyst for the GOP electoral victory in 2010. The law's individual mandate was the prime offense motivating the conservative base. Legal challenges to the mandate became flash points, and the mandate's chief prosecutor, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has become a conservative champion," he writes. "The fight to unseat Obama in 2012 also is expected to revolve around Obamacare -- particularly its infringements on individual liberty, its naked budget gimmickry to hide a spending time bomb, and the central-planner technocratic mind-set it embodies. So it's hard to imagine a worse leader for this fight than Mitt Romney. Romneycare in Massachusetts not only looks a lot like Obamacare, it literally was a model for Obamacare."
It's true that a lot of conservatives think that way about a Romney candidacy, but their reasoning is unpersuasive for several reasons. Most obviously, there is every reason for the GOP nominee to run a campaign that revolves around the economy. It would be foolish indeed to run primarily against Obamacare, especially since the average American voter, whatever he or she thinks about the legislation, isn't exactly eager to trust the Republican Party's approach to health care, if the GOP can even be said to have a coherent approach. Do Republicans really want to pit Rick Perry's record on health care against Obama's record, have them discuss the merits a few times on debate stages, and have those exchanges determine the winner of the presidential election?