Jennifer Rubin: Mitt’s Individual Mandate Won’t Hurt Him in the General Election Because Obama Won’t Bring it Up; Updated

This is priceless.  The Washington Post’s resident Romney Cheerleader, Jennifer Rubin, unwittingly makes the case against the Mittster’s nomination in one of her daily pro-Mitt sermons.  Her piece is laced with the usual obligatory platitudes and fallacies about Mitt really being a conservative who has “substantial objections” to Obamacare, never mind Mitt’s own healthcare guru noted that the plans are basically identical other than the fact that ObamaCare has three more zeros.  This silliness, of course, is par for the course for Rubin.  We’ve heard it all before.  What I did find noteworthy about her piece, though, is this:

But before we get to those, we should recognize that, while Romneycare’s mandate is a liability for the former Massachusetts governor in the Republican primary, there is no guarantee it’ll even come up in the general election.

For starters, Romney may not have to attack the individual mandate at all, since the Supreme Court may very well strike it down. More importantly, in the general election Romney doesn’t need to challenge President Obama on his individual mandate. It’s not like Obama is going to say, “Your individual mandate is as unpopular as mine.”

Er…no kidding, Jen.  Isn’t that precisely the point conservatives have made all along in opposing a Romney nomination?  That what should be one of the GOP’s biggest weapons with which to go after the President in 2012, ObamaCare and its deeply unpopular individual mandate (which Mandate Mitt defended again Thursday night), will be taken off the table if Romney’s the nominee? Why yes, it is.  It’s good to see Rubin acknowledging the obvious, but it’s impossible to understand how she believes this is an argument in favor of Mitt’s nomination. How will it help Republicans to take on Obama with one arm tied behind their backs?

Further, Rubin assures us, the mandate won’t be an issue anyway since the Supreme Court will come riding to the rescue on a white horse.  Really? After conservative DC Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Laurence Silberman’s decision in November upholding the mandate, I don’t know how anyone who’s been paying attention can pin their hopes on the Court striking it down. No, I agree with Andrew McCarthy that the Court will likely uphold ObamaCare, especially in light of Silberman’s opinion:

I happen to think the Supremes are going to uphold Obamacare — not that they should, but that they will (for the reasons outlined in the aforementioned column). That won’t mean Obamacare is good policy; it is disastrous policy. It will just mean that Obamacare is one of the many suicidal things our Constitution allows a free people to do to itself. But when the Court’s ruling comes down, the GOP will have done nothing to lay the groundwork for what should be the far more consequential political battle to repeal Obamacare — indeed, by doing nothing and nominating Mitt, the GOP will be saying, implicitly, that it is fine with most of Obamacare, perhaps with a few Washington-style modifications. The Supreme Court decision will thus hit in July — the campaign stretch-run — and, if it comes out the way I think it will come out, it will be a crackling political victory for the Obama campaign.

Assuming McCarthy’s correct, which is highly likely, the only way to get rid of the mandate is through the political process.  Rubin admits that the unpopular mandate won’t even be brought up during the campaign if her candidate’s the nominee.  I agree.  If we’re both correct, on what basis will Republicans have an electoral mandate to repeal it?


Update: (h/t TT) A friend notes in an email that Rubin relies on the premise that voters will make a distinction between the two plans and the individual mandate that underlies them, an absurd assumption.  Good point.

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