MITTENS…. It wasn’t long after Tom Daschle withdrew from consideration that names of possible replacements were bandied about. Howard Dean, Kathleen Sebelius, Phil Bredesen, and John Podesta were all the subject of scuttlebutt yesterday.

But there’s one name that probably needs to be scratched from any possible short-lists right away. Time‘s Karen Tumulty got the ball rolling with a very bad idea.

What we know of Barack Obama in situations such as these is that he is willing to make an unconventional choice…. So I’ve got an out-of-the-box suggestion that he might consider. My suggested nominee is a proven problem-solver on the health care issue, who has shown that he is willing to invest whatever political capital it takes to get the job done. Someone who has shown that, on this issue, he can work pragmatically across party lines. Someone who has partnered with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the chairman of the Senate health committee, on a plan. In fact, he’s the only person in America who has ever put together and passed a universal health care program.

That man: Mitt Romney.

Marc Ambinder is skeptical about the likelihood, but seems to approve of the idea. Jonathan Cohn praises Romney’s record on healthcare, but adds, “[H]e’s said too many unambiguously harsh things — about the auto bailout, about the stimulus, and about Democrats in general — to serve credibly in this administration.”

That’s quite an understatement. When Romney ended his presidential campaign, he said he had to clear the path for John McCain, or he would be “part of aiding a surrender to terror.” Just five days ago, Romney bashed Obama for not letting congressional Republicans set the nation’s policy agenda.

Ambinder added, “[W]hat Romney, in a bipartisan fashion, was able to do in Massachusetts — even with caveats — is pretty much the same as what Obama wants to do on a national level.” Perhaps, but that Romney is long gone, replaced with an embarrassing right-wing hack.

Post Script: As I’m typing this, an email arrives in my inbox, alerting me to CQ‘s Craig Crawford recommending Newt Gingrich — seriously, Newt Gingrich — as a possible HHS Secretary.

Folks, I like outside-the-box thinking as much as the next guy, but if the short list includes Romney and Gingrich, the country is in very big trouble.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.