Romney’s no good, very bad morning

We’re still a few hours away from Mitt Romney’s speech on health care policy in Michigan, but while we wait, it’s worth noting that the Republican presidential hopeful isn’t having a very good morning.

Democrats are on the offensive, relentlessly mocking Romney for his health care flip-flops and contradictions. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told ABC this morning, “What I think is unfortunate about Mitt Romney is he doesn’t even know who he is.”

Perhaps more importantly, Romney is also facing renewed heat from the right, as evidenced by this blistering, 1,200-word editorial from the Wall Street Journal. The headline describes Romney as “Obama’s running mate,” and the piece concludes:

More immediately for his Republican candidacy, the debate over ObamaCare and the larger entitlement state may be the central question of the 2012 election. On that question, Mr. Romney is compromised and not credible. If he does not change his message, he might as well try to knock off Joe Biden and get on the Obama ticket.

Ouch.

As a substantive matter, the Wall Street Journal‘s far-right editorial board plays fast and loose with the facts while going after Romney, and Jonathan Cohn takes the paper’s editorial apart.

But to a certain extent, the fact that the newspaper’s editors don’t understand health care policy is secondary to the attack itself. In all of Republican media, the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page is one of the most important and influential powerhouses in the country. On a typical day, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh will routinely follow talking points they’ve picked up by reading WSJ editorials.

And as of this morning, the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page is telling the Republican world that Mitt Romney, ostensibly the frontrunner for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination, just isn’t good enough.

Worse, given the larger context, there’s not much Romney can do about it. If he flip-flops (again) and abandons his health care policy, Romney reinforces suspicions that he’s a craven opportunist with no core beliefs or principles. If he sticks to his proverbial guns and stands by health care mandates, Romney is “Obama’s running mate” in the eyes of the GOP establishment.

Good luck, Mitt.

Postscript: The WSJ editorial, by the way, noted about today’s speech, “[W]hat we’ll be listening for is how he explains his health-care principles of five years ago.”

I’d add that what I’ll be waiting for is how the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page explains why it had no problems with Romney’s health-care principles of five years ago.