Peggy Noonan says that Mitt Romney had a good week. Largely because the field has narrowed and he stood out in the ABC/Washington Post poll as the only Republican polling ahead of Barack Obama. She analyzes his negatives, but leaves you with the feeling that he may be "a sound choice."
His seamless happiness can be grating. People like to root for the little guy, and he's never been the little guy. His family has never in his lifetime known financial ill fortune, and his personal wealth is of the self-made kind, the most grating because it means you can't even patronize him. He has in him that way of people who are chipper about each day in large part because each day has been very nice to them. This makes some people want to punch him in the nose. I said once he's like an account executive on "Mad Men," stepping from the shower and asking George the valet to bring him the blue shirt with the white collar. But this year he looks slightly older, maybe wiser, maybe a little more frayed than in 2008. Which is good. Since 2008 everyone else is more frayed, too.. . .My impression of my fellow Mormon, who attended BYU a few years ahead of me, is that he has made the decision to be true to himself and state his true opinions, whether conservatives like them all or not. I could feel the difference in his speech about the Massachusetts health care bill he designed. In fairness, many other conservatives thought an individual mandate was pretty attractive, but he was the only one who went through with it.
The common wisdom has been that health care is the huge weak spot in his candidacy. Maybe, but maybe not. The base hates ObamaCare, as we know, and Mr. Romney devised a similar plan as governor of Massachusetts. But he can talk earnestly about it on the hustings until voters' eyes glaze over and they plead to change the subject, which he will. And there are a lot of other subjects. If he gets through the primaries, his position on health care will become a plus: The Democrats this year will try to paint the Republican candidate as radical on health spending. It would be harder to do that to Mr. Romney.
Has enough time passed since his famous flip-flops on issues like abortion to make them old news? Four years ago it colored his candidacy. We'll find out if people decide it's yesterday's story, and give him a second look.
The real problem for Romney is: Does he mean it? Is he serious when he takes a stand? Has he thought it through or merely adopted it? And there is of course religion. In a silly and baiting interview with Piers Morgan on CNN, Mr. Romney swatted away an insistence that he delve into Mormonism and, by implication, defend it. It was like seeing some Brit in 1960 trying to make John F. Kennedy explain and defend Catholicism. It's not something we do in America. Because we still have a little class.
What is it we hate about Obamacare? First, it's a wholesale imposition of federal government. Second, it raises the tab we pay for government and adds new bureaucracy. Third, it was passed practically in the dark with no chance to debate it or even read it. None of those things applied in Massachusetts. Now we hear that it will result not in being able to keep our current plans, but probably will result in a federal single payer system where the feds become the insurer or HMO. Who wouldn't love that? Also not in Massachusetts.
The common thing between Obamacare and Romney care is the mandate to buy health insurance, which nobody likes. But the government is now arguing that it's not a mandate outside of the commerce clause, but a tax which is allowed, whether one likes it or not, by federal jurisprudence. The reason for the mandate is to keep people without insurance showing up for expensive care and leaving the doctors and hospitals holding the bag. There has to be some answer for that.