Earlier this month, the conservative base of the Republican Party went nuts, demanding the head of Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul. Why?
Because in discussing the fate of steelworkers laid off when Bain Capital closed their Missouri plant, Saul had had the audacity to note:
“To that point, you know, if people had been in Massachusetts under Governor Romney’s health care plan, they would have had health care. There are a lot of people losing their jobs and their health care in President Obama’s economy.”
Rush Limbaugh erupted. Erick Erickson suggested that Saul’s statement might be the moment in which Romney lost the campaign and the trust of conservatives. “Consider the scab picked, the wound opened, and the distrust trickling out again,” he wrote.
And Ann Coulter went on the Hannity show to fume:
“Anyone who donates to Mitt Romney — and I mean the big donors — ought to call Mitt Romney and say if Andrea Saul isn’t fired and off the campaign tomorrow, they are not giving another dime. Because it is not worth fighting for this man if this is the kind of spokesman he has to respond to this by citing health care in Massachusetts.”
Saul was not fired, and over the weekend, Romney himself told Fox News:
“I’m the guy who was able to get all the health care for all the women and men for my state. They were talking about it at the federal level. We actually did something, and we did it without cutting Medicare and without raising taxes.”
For the record, Romney did it without a state tax hike thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in additional federal Medicaid subsidies for Massachusetts. In fact, a year ago the Beacon Hill Institute, a Massachusetts think tank, estimated that since 2006, the “federal government has spent an additional $2.418 billion on Medicaid for Massachusetts,” and that overall, “The state has been able to shift the majority of the costs to the federal government.”
But the larger point is, what are conservatives are going to do now? Demand a new nominee, on the eve of the GOP convention? What’s Rush going to say, just hours before the coronation begins? My guess is that he will say nothing. They’ll attack the young female spokesperson, but not the candidate himself.
It also once again betrays the fundamental emptiness at the core of the Romney campaign for president. He has shown himself willing to read any script given to him, and to try unconvincingly to spout the principles of others as if they were his own. The ability to lead implies the ability to first be yourself, and I see no sign of that in the man.
He does not merely bend in the wind, he is a veritable dandelion seed, carried lightly hither and yon on the slightest bit of breeze, landing we know not where. The Republicans see that about him, and fear it, even if they dare not acknowledge it.
– Jay Bookman