With his "47 percent" scandal taking a serious toll on his campaign, Mitt Romney is now investing quite a bit of effort into demonstrating empathy. It's evident in his new, minute-long campaign ad -- the one in which he talks directly into the camera and refers to the middle class as "them" instead of "you" -- and it was clear in an interview with NBC News late yesterday.
For those who can't watch clips online, Romney said, "Don't forget, I got everybody in my state insured. One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don't think there's anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record."
Hmm. For two years, Romney has gone to almost-comical lengths to avoid mentioning his Massachusetts health-care reform law -- as of this morning, the health-care page on his website still includes zero references to his only meaningful accomplishment in public office -- but now that there's a video in which Romney is seen trashing half the population as lazy parasites, "Romneycare" is suddenly relevant again.
But the new argument is not without flaw. Romney's Massachusetts law is, the argument goes, proof of empathy and concern for families. But this is the same Romney that's eager to destroy the Affordable Care Act -- which was modeled after Romney's law -- which would in turn take coverage and benefits away from millions of working families.
This is an issue Romney seems to struggle to understand, but there's nothing compassionate about arguing in effect, "That great thing I did as governor? Yeah, I promise to do the opposite as president."
Indeed, the argument really falls apart when one realizes that Romney's comments to NBC News came immediately after an event in which the Republican candidate condemned "Obamacare" as an example of everything that's wrong with President Obama's vision of government.
Romney has said more than once he considered his state law a model for the nation, and Obama took him up on the idea. If elected, Romney intends to undo what he said he wanted to do, while pointing to the law he no longer wants to emulate as proof of his "empathy."
Is he being empathetic or just pathetic?