It occurs to me that two of the leading claims Mitt Romney has been making lately are, in a funny way, related.
Romney frequently defends his opposition to Obama’s auto-bailout by suggesting that he, Romney, was the architect of the policy that actually saved the auto industry. He claims he initially suggested that the auto companies should go through a “managed bankruptcy,” and that the government should guarantee post-bankruptcy financing.
And that’s true — but it’s mostly irrelevant. As Reuters noted, “that is not what happened.” Romney aggressively opposed the very thing that made it possible for the auto companies to go through that process — loans from the federal government. Even if you accept Romney’s contention that the auto industry would be doing better still if we hadn’t gone with a bailout, the notion that Romney is responsible for the approach Obama did adopt is a huge stretch.
Meanwhile, Romney frequently rebuffs talk about the similarities between his Massachusetts health care law and Obama’s health reform initiative. And yet in this case, it happens to be true that he was the architect of the model for the hated “Obamacare.”
Romney initially predicted the bailout would lead to the auto industry’s demise. Now he says he was responsible for the policy that made the auto industry’s rebound possible — even though he wasn’t. Meanwhile, Romney used to say that he hopes for a “nation that’s taken a mandate approach.” Now he derides Obamacare in the most lurid terms — even though he pioneered Obamacare’s approach.
Meanwhile, still more has emerged today on yet another Romneyism. Mitt has been attacking Rick Santorum for claiming he voted for No Child Left Behind in violation of his own principles. Yet as Buzzfeed reports, Romney’s support for No Child Left Behind in 2008 what won him the backing of George W. Bush, who claimed that it showed that the two men “share a philosophy.” That’s not a flip-flop in the narrowest technical sense, but it still amounts to some remarkable dissembling.
Yet no one seems to care about these latest revelations. It’s worth wondering whether Romney is benefitting from a kind of “flip flop fatigue,” in which the crush of equivocations, reversals and rhetorical contortions has gotten so relentless and ubiquitous that people are too exhausted to bother tracking or objecting to them anymore.