That’s what Daniel Gross over at Slate is saying, and he has a point. Despite my absolute revulsion toward the term “ObamaCare”, Gross’s reasoning is pretty sound, and if you want to talk about sealing himself as a Lincoln-esque president, Obama would be hard pressed to one-up appointing one of his potential presidential opponents to such a high position. For that matter, it’d be a good move for Mittens.
Consider his bio. Romney has worked as a management consultant, started a successful venture capital firm (Bain & Co.), restructured and turned around the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and ran the state of Massachusetts for four years.
And of course, there is the thing that disqualifies him from being the Republican nominee in 2012, which is the same thing that makes him best qualified for the job of health-care czar: He’s basically already done it. In fact, he’s the only executive who has done it. As countless commentators have noted (Alex Knepper from the right, Brad DeLong from the left, and David Frum from the spurned right), Obamacare largely is Romneycare. The concept of attaining near-universal health insurance in a defined geographic area using a combination of a mandate, subsidies, and cost-control efforts is essentially what Romney did in Massachusetts earlier this decade. (Here’s some video of Romney talking about an individual mandate as a conservative plan.)
No doubt, one of the biggest problems Romney ran into was trying to prove to the hardliners that he was a “true” conservative. Unfortunately, Mitt is a Republican in the sense that Blue Dogs are Democrats; he’s a Republican in friggin’ Massachusetts. It’s like being a gangster in a suburban neighborhood or a liberal on FOX, that label wouldn’t fly anywhere else.
So we were treated to watching Romney attempt to explain how he’d hold up the kind of Texan “blue collar” neocon values despite his previous pro-choice stance and how he led the union’s poster child for universal health care (a mantra for a little while was “look at Massachusetts, it can work!). In terms of right-wing credentials, Mitt’s got no real chance. With the Tea Party reigning high, someone like Romney has a snowball’s chance in hell of making a dent in the field.
Would it ever happen? Naw, but it definitely would make sense.