4:26 PM CDT, September 10, 2012
Mitt Romney often comes across as a newcomer trying to learn an alien language. In his case, the language is conservatism. He's been running for the Republican nomination president off and on since 2007, but he still stumbles in addressing the natives.
His latest snafu involves his pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare, while going light on what the replacement would look like. On "Meet the Press" Sunday, he said he would keep a couple of popular elements. "One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage," he said. "Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like."
Sounds awfully indulgent of a greater federal role in the health insurance business, doesn't it? But in no time, he was beating a retreat, with an aide announcing that Romney "was not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer those particular features." In that case, it's safe to say, they would largely vanish.
This weird zigzag suggests that maybe he hasn't thought the issue through very well -- and may not understand how such mandates argue for requiring individuals to gain coverage, to keep health insurers from being gamed. Or maybe he just blurted out what he really thought, only to decide that would offend too many Republicans.
Or, just possibly, there is method in his madness. By this reversal, he may hope to assure moderate voters that he's prepared to jettison GOP dogma as soon as the election. Or he could be signaling tea partiers that he will go along with anything they want. Or both.
But if you want to know what he'll actually do about health care if he wins, good luck. He obviously doesn't know himself.
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