Following Through On Rhetoric

Love him or hate him – Mitt Romney talks a good political ballgame. He’s become the consummate campaigner and knows how to deliver a pretty good victory speech at this point. He’s comfortable in front of large crowds, microphones and debate moderators. Let’s face it, he’s been running for president since 2007. He should have this down by now.

He sounds like a Reaganite when he’s at the podium, but unfortunately his actions have failed historically to measure up to his rhetoric – and as I noted in a previous column – sometimes even his rhetoric is far from consistent.

Last night’s victory for the Romney camp was just win number two of the busy primary season and money definitely talked in Florida. The former governor spent roughly $17 million in the state that McCain narrowly took from him in the GOP primary of 2008. It remains to be seen whether deep wallets will deliver Romney this nomination but he undoubtedly has an uphill battle to win in the arena of ideas.

Romney gave a great victory speech in Tampa, but if nominated and then elected, would President Romney resemble Candidate Romney? At one point during his speech, he made the following statement:

On one of the most personal matters of our lives, our health care, President Obama would turn decision making over to government bureaucrats. He forced through Obamacare; I will repeal it.

I’m skeptical of his entire presentation, but his insistence on repealing Obamacare, I find to be totally disingenuous. It seems even more like a pipe dream after Romney supporter and former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman admitted during an interview with BioCentury this week that Obamacare would not be repealed “in its entirety:”

“You will not repeal the act in its entirety, but you will see major changes, particularly if there is a Republican president,” Coleman told BioCentury This Week television in an interview that aired on Sunday. “You can’t whole-cloth throw it out. But you can substantially change what’s been done.”

Repealing Obamacare will be a colossal effort, but this vote of  no confidence from a Romney backer is not exactly reassuring to say the least. No potential nominee will be able to repeal this law on his own – the Republicans will need to control the White House and both houses of Congress to get the act completely repealed. Daunting, to be sure, but not an impossibility. Our nominee must be totally committed to throwing out the entire law because a partial repeal is wholly unacceptable. According to National Review, Romney’s staff has distanced themselves from Coleman’s statement. A spokesman for the campaign said that “while the candidate (Romney) respects Coleman he disagrees with this assessment.”

Given Romney’s “accomplishments” in Massachusetts and the massive 2006 healthcare legislation that was signed into law under his watch, I find Coleman’s statements troubling because they seem closer to reality. Many Conservatives fear that even a Republican president will not push for total repeal after being elected – especially given the frontrunners in this contest. Based on his record and stance on principles, I could see Rick Santorum fighting for complete repeal, but I’m unable to say the same for Romney or Newt Gingrich. I find it much more realistic that they would keep certain aspects of the law and scrap others, regardless of what’s said on the campaign trail. Let’s not forget this is politics and these candidates are trying to get elected. Saying that they’ll repeal parts of the law and keep others wouldn’t draw too many pops out there on the stump.

The approach of partial repeal would still send us down the path of decline or as Friedrich von Hayek referred to it in 1944 – the Road to Serfdom. Publicly, Romneycare is an albatross for Conservatives and privately at campaign headquarters it has to be giving the Romney lackeys their fair share of heartburn. Among conservatives, there’s little hope that Romney will follow through on such a monumental declaration of repeal. This is not a game-changer for moderate Republicans but it’s ballgame for Tea Partiers, Constitutionalists and the Republic.

While Romney is not a statist, he’s  certainly no conservative. Rather, he is a moderate Republican who doubtless would be a job-creating president. However his fundamental misunderstanding of individual liberty and the role of government is unnerving. Governments – state and federal – can not constitutionally force the American people to purchase a good or service. Despite Romney’s defense of what he did in Massachusetts, that was not about state’s rights.

The 10th Amendment to the Bill of Rights reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This does not give Massachusetts the power to impose state-mandated health care on its citizenry.

What Romney did in Massachusetts violates that state constitution and Obamacare violates our federal Constitution. We can’t afford four more years of Obama but we also can’t afford a Republican president who slips into bed with progressives in both parties after getting elected. The next president needs to be able to pull us back from the precipice, not ease us down the side of it.

Governor Romney’s public speaking skills are superlative, but a great orator  and master of rhetoric is not what’s needed in Washington or the White house. We already elected to the presidency a man who was hailed as a great orator – and it’s destroying the country. We need a chief executive who will cleave to the Constitution and ensure that government protects the individual – as our Founders intended.

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