Debra J. Saunders

Mitt Romney is too much like Barack Obama. I don't see how he'd win the 2012 GOP nod because he's got too much in common with the guy he wants to replace.

Both men began a run for the White House during their first term in statewide office. Romney never bothered to run for re-election as Massachusetts governor. He didn't stick around to solve the state's problems. He treated the job like a stepping-stone.

Likewise, Obama ran for the White House in his first term as a U.S. senator.

Each could win a gold medal in flip-flopping.

Short list: In 2008, Obama pledged to shut down Guantanamo Bay, vowed to raise taxes on the rich, opposed raising the federal debt ceiling in 2006 and hit President George W. Bush for unilaterally authorizing "a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."

In office, Obama has kept Gitmo open, signed a measure to extend the Bush tax cuts for all income levels, proposed raising the debt ceiling and authorized the use of military force over Libya without congressional approval.

Romney has made a similar journey. When he ran to be governor of liberal Massachusetts in 2002, Romney pledged to "protect a woman's right to choose" and won the unanimous endorsement of the gay GOP group, the Log Cabin Republicans.

With his eyes on the 2008 GOP nomination, Romney's views on abortion began to move closer to the GOP's right. Romney now defines himself as "firmly pro-life." The Log Cabin Republicans whom he had once courted were so angry at what they saw as Romney's defection on social issues that they produced a TV spot highlighting Romney's erstwhile "Massachusetts values."

Both pushed through big health care packages -- and now are left with the baggage.

Romney was for an individual mandate for his Massachusetts health care plan before he was against the mandate in Obama's health care plan -- because it's national.

Obama was against the individual mandate -- in the primary, he hammered Hillary Rodham Clinton for daring to suggest such a thing -- before his administration proclaimed the individual mandate to be the linchpin to Obamacare.

To keep Obamacare intact, the administration has granted more than 1,000 waivers to large employers -- like the state of Maine. Romney favors waivers for all states, then he favors repeal. He now refers to Romneycare as "an experiment" -- a word that politicians usually reserve to explain their drug use in college.

Each has a religious m-word. Romney is a Mormon. Obama is not a Muslim.

Both men seem to share an aversion to anything with a whiff of political unpopularity. Obama let Congress write his health care bill, and he's been reluctant to act on deficit reduction.

For his part, Romney enjoys hitting Obamacare -- which plays to the GOP base. But then, when it comes to Romneycare, the former governor blames Bay State Democrats for undermining it. Whose fault is that?

They both look presidential and both are a political consultant's dream. But if you don't see them sweat, it's because you don't see them doing the heavy lifting.


Debra J. Saunders


 
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