Favorite

Lyons: Contortionist Romney 

click to enlarge Mitt Romney image

To a skeptic, the most remarkable aspect of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has been how so flexible a politician can represent so dogmatic a party. Contemporary Republicanism is ideological to its core. Everybody who watched the GOP primary debates between Mitt and the Seven Dwarves (or were there nine? I forget) understands that there's a black and white party line on almost every imaginable topic from tax policy to global warming.

Romney, on the other hand, appears to have no firm convictions at all. How anybody purports to know what the GOP candidate actually thinks about any issue other than the size of his own offshore bank accounts beggars my poor imagination. That most Republicans have temporarily persuaded themselves to trust him reflects mainly their fear and loathing of President Obama.

Equally remarkable, however, is the way the Obama campaign has let Romney get away with it. How can his evasiveness not be an issue? For that matter, how can it not be THE issue? Early on, a strategic decision was apparently made to depict the GOP candidate as the "severely conservative" politician he affected to be during the Republican primaries.

Well, it ain't working. So many and so various are the GOP candidate's self-contradictions and reinventions that the proverbial "low information" citizens who appear to constitute much of the swing vote are pretty much free to imagine any Mitt Romney that strikes their fancy.

Maybe it's unpatriotic to say so, but an awful lot of people who manage their personal affairs competently enough simply refuse to understand the most elementary facts when they're part of a political argument.

Sometimes you have to tell them a story. It helps if that story connects to something close to home; something they've had to think about realistically in their own lives.

Such as, what happens if you lose your health insurance and then get sick? Millions live in fear of this every day.

CBS News' Scott Pelley recently asked Romney a simple question on 60 Minutes: "Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don't have it today?"

"Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance," Romney allowed. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care."

"That's the most expensive way to do it," Pelley observed. Indeed, government figures show the average emergency room visit costs $922, vs. $199 for a doctor's office visit.

Nor is it free. People do know that. Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act signed by President Reagan, hospitals must treat sick and injured patients regardless of their ability to pay. A civilized society can do no less; much less one that hopes to head off deadly epidemics.

But the law doesn't say the hospital can't perform what's cynically called a "wallet biopsy" and send you a bill. Indeed, many states allow hospitals to hire collection agencies, garnish wages and seize assets in pursuit of payment. For this reason, many people stay away until they're at death's door.

Others abuse the privilege and stick the rest of us with the bill.

Back in 2006, the politician Bill Clinton calls "Moderate Mitt" recognized the problem. He wrote a Wall Street Journal column objecting to the way deadbeats game the system.

"By law, emergency care cannot be withheld," he wrote. "Why pay for something you can get free? Of course, while it may be free for them, everyone else ends up paying the bill, either in higher insurance premiums or taxes."

Writing in Time, Kate Pickert catches Moderate Mitt as recently as 2008, explaining the conservative origins of "Romneycare" in Massachusetts.

"They shouldn't be allowed just to show up at the hospital and say somebody else should pay for me, so we said no more free riders...We said if you can afford insurance, then either have the insurance or get a health savings account, pay your own way, but no more free ride ... I think it's the conservative approach — to make sure that people who can afford insurance are getting it at their expense, not at the expense of the taxpayers or the government. That, I consider a step towards socialism."

Ah, but then came "Obamacare," basically Romneycare with a less expensive per capita price tag. Yesterday's conservative solution turned into today's Bolshevism. Severely Conservative Mitt played along.

So what would Romney do if elected?

Who knows? To paraphrase the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus: You can never encounter the same Mitt Romney twice. Whatever he says today, he'll say something different tomorrow.

Here's the question President Obama should be asking: Would you buy a used health insurance policy from this man?

Favorite

Speaking of Mitt Romney

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • Boris and Natasha

    • Sep 1, 2016
  • Swing and miss

    It follows that baseball is both too important and too trivial to lie about. Even if your name is Hillary Clinton.
    • Aug 24, 2016
  • Russia and Trump

    Are we watching an American presidential campaign or the pilot episode of a bizarre new TV series? Or both?
    • Aug 17, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • In God's name

    Because I'm not running for anything, I can give it to you straight: Christianity pretty much got out of the genocide business when church and state became separated in the United States and Europe following the American Revolution.
    • Feb 12, 2015
  • Choleric about love in our time

    For a guy who watches maybe 250 ballgames a year, I've always taken an interest in what was once called the women's page. After studying the sports section every morning, it's the next thing I turn to.
    • Jan 22, 2015
  • Send your daughters to A&M

    This just in: "Study Finds Fruitcake Right, Anti-gravity Left Share Similar Traits, Tactics."
    • Feb 5, 2015

Most Shared

  • The South, including Arkansas, is failing poor kids who want to go to college

    The Atlantic has an important perspective on the South's "cycle of failing higher education."  Arkansas stands out for the cost barriers it presents to low-income students.
  • School takeovers erode democracy, target minority communities

    New reporting shows state takeover of schools around the country, including in Little Rock, have disproportionately affected minority communities.
  • Arkansas legislator tied to fatal bus crash in Louisiana

    Republican state Rep. David Wallace of Leachville, a current candidate for state Senate, has been identified as the owner of a company that rounded up a group of workers, apparently undocumented aliens, for flood relief work in Louisiana, including one with a poor driving record who was at the wheel in a fatal bus crash on Interstate 10.
  • The boys on the tracks are back

    A lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Little Rock bears notice for its effort to breathe life into the 29-year-old story most familiarly known as the Boys on the Tracks.
  • Dumas: Behind the Obamascare headlines

    Ernest Dumas explains in his Arkansas times column this week how Obamacare's problems can be fixed; why it isn't going away, and, most pertinently, why it's more lucrative for Arkansas to continue to expand the coverage pool, not dream up ways to shrink it.

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Boris and Natasha

    • Sep 1, 2016
  • Swing and miss

    It follows that baseball is both too important and too trivial to lie about. Even if your name is Hillary Clinton.
    • Aug 24, 2016
  • Russia and Trump

    Are we watching an American presidential campaign or the pilot episode of a bizarre new TV series? Or both?
    • Aug 17, 2016
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

August

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • One person, one vote

    Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin's recent stumbles have revealed quite a story.
  • Boris and Natasha

  • News for the digital era

    Arkansas news, clipped and spun for the short-attention-span era.
  • Fayetteville's missed opportunity

    In today's polarized political climate, it's rare that any measure gets public bipartisan support. But I thought the University of Arkansas Associated Student Government's proposal to establish an on-campus early voting center would be uncontroversial and easily approved
  • Obamacare works

    If you read only the headlines you would think that Obamacare is on its last leg, a national train wreck even in Arkansas, where Republicans and Democrats preserved its biggest feature, assured medical care for the working poor.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The shame of Robert E. Lee Day

    • This thread may be dead but I just stumbled on this and I feel the…

    • on August 31, 2016
  • Re: Pay to play. Really?

    • Runner I know you don't think old Max wants to let the facts confuse worship…

    • on August 31, 2016
  • Re: Racial bias in police shootings

    • Excellent analysis - BTW , if anyone was looking for a AR Complaint Form ,…

    • on August 28, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation