Romney’s wild-eyed floundering

ROMNEY’S WILD-EYED FLOUNDERING…. I get that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is in a tough spot. After one unsuccessful presidential campaign, he’s positioning himself for another, hoping to curry favor with the right-wing activists who make up his party’s base.

But he has a problem. Well, more than one, actually. The newest problem is that Democrats are wrapping up a historic victory on health care reform, and their plan looks quite a bit like the health care reform plan he implemented during his one term in office.

The more Republican activists and donors hate the Democratic policy, and notice that their policy is Romney’s policy, the more they’ll likely end up hating Romney and the one major thing he got done during his only experience in government at any level.

What to do? Apparently, Romney’s decided to lash out wildly, attacking the Obama-backed policy in unusually stupid ways, and hoping no one notices the similarities between the president’s plan and Romney’s.

Romney, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, responded on Monday to the new health care legislation on the National Review’s Web site. The president, he wrote, “has betrayed his oath to the nation” by failing to attract any Republican votes for the bill.

Romney’s statement reads like something written by a Glenn Beck intern, complaining about an “unconscionable abuse of power” — apparently defined as lawmakers voting for and passing a bill they like — and a “historic usurpation of the legislative process,” though he doesn’t say why. It goes on from there, before concluding that the “act should be repealed.”

The whole thing would work well in a fundraising letter from Steve King or Michele Bachmann, but Romney is supposed to be at least a little less ridiculous.

But therein lies the point: Romney doesn’t have a choice. It’s one thing to undergo a dramatic metamorphosis from a pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-immigration moderate to ostensible right-wing hero. It’s another to get stuck attacking the president for supporting a health care policy that’s practically identical to his own.

It’s worth emphasizing the shifting ideological ground on which Romney cannot find his balance. When he supported his own health care policy, it was not only a pretty good plan, it was perfectly in line with what a moderate Republican who cared about this issue would support. Indeed, notice that Romney ran for president for over a year in 2007 and 2008, and no one — not even his aggressive primary opponents — accused of him advancing a radical Soviet-style takeover intended to destroy everything that is good about American freedom. Romney’s plan just didn’t seem that radical.

That is, until now, as Democrats advance a very similar plan. It’s left Romney in an impossible spot, and it’s forcing him to sound like a lunatic. I almost feel sorry for the guy — it’s not his fault his party’s gone mad, and he’s struggling to keep up.