Mitt Romney and the Wages of Bipartisanship

Regardless of how you feel about the quality of Massachusetts health care reform, then-Gov. Mitt Romney’s role in its passage was a perfect example of the bipartisan compromise ideal that President Obama claims to love so strongly. Yet Obama is now actively trying to punish Romney for taking part in the bipartisanship Obama thinks is lacking.

As a Republican governor, Romney worked across the aisle with the Democratic legislature on a major piece of legislation to deal with a big issue. Neither sides got exactly what they wanted, but in the end they came together around a compromise they could agree to. This is exactly how Obama claims he wants the federal government to work on everything from health care to immigration reform to deficit reductions.

Not surprisingly, Romney’s past willingness to work in a bipartisan manner on health care is something many hardcore conservatives are using to attack him. The interesting thing, though, is that the Obama administration and their allies have been gleefully stoking the anti-Romney sentiment with their death hug strategy. They are actively using backhanded praise of Romney’s previous bipartisan moment to try to hurt his political career.

I personally have no problem with this strategy, but I’ve always seen “bipartisan” as, at best, overrated, and mainly an attempt to destroy democratic accountability.

But for Obama, this is deeply disingenuous and runs counter to the “pro-bipartisan” image he has been trying to cultivate. Who would want to work with the other party knowing this willingness to reach across the aisle could be used to help crush your political aspirations later? This is exactly the behavior that helps ruin the prospect for a future bipartisan deal.

Romney made the mistake of actually putting into practice the “everyone as adults coming together for a big comprise” ideal Obama claims to cherish, and for doing that, Obama is intent on actively helping others make Romney pay the political wages for committing this sin.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at