It has been a rough summer for the Republican Party.
First President Obama beat them to the punch on immigration reform, which served to deflate the “Romney for President” balloon before it got off the ground.
Then, after Obama called Republicans on their bluff involving health care reform, the president went all in, bypassing the lower appeals process and taking his Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act straight to the U.S. Supreme Court – and won.
No matter how the Republicans want to try to spin this, it was a crushing blow, especially since Chief Justice John Roberts, a Republican appointee and well-regarded conservative, delivered the decisive vote in favor of President Obama’s health care reform law.
This has only further marginalized the Republican Party, as its leadership steadfastly refuses to compromise on any issues and is steering the party to the far right, into alignment with Tea Party activists, leaving moderate Republicans to question this direction and strategy.
Today we learned that several prominent Republicans have declined invitations to attend the GOP convention.
Jon Huntsman, who ran for the Republican nomination this year, is one of them.
“I will not be attending this year’s convention, nor any Republican convention in the future, until the party focuses on a bigger, bolder, more confident future for the United States — a future based on problem solving, inclusiveness, and a willingness to address the trust deficit, which is every bit as corrosive as our fiscal and economic deficits,” said Huntsman in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune.
Also Linda McMahon, the Republican Senate candidate in Connecticut, intends to stay on the campaign trial instead of helping to nominate Romney.
She is joined by Virginia Sen. George Allen, Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg and Nevada Senate candidate Dean Heller, who all have indicated they intend to continue campaigning instead of going to Tampa.
This makes them sound like hard-working politicians, but in reality what these Republicans are doing is distancing themselves from Mitt Romney and the party’s right-leaning leadership.
Romney already was an imperfect candidate. This guy couldn’t find his way out of the 2008 primary, losing to John McCain, who while likable, was older than dirt, and had flip-flopped on numerous issues to appease the Republican hard-liners after his loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 primary.
Romney comes back in 2012 to compete against a field of horribly flawed candidates, of which he is one of them, and by screwing up the least he secured the nomination.
Now this does nothing to erase the fact that Romney ran to the left of Ted Kennedy in a losing effort for the 1994 Senate seat in Massachusetts. Nor does it explain away how he previously supported pro-choice abortion rights or advocated for gun control legislation.
What really is hurting Romney, and now the Republicans as a whole, is that while governor of Massachusetts, he signed into law Romneycare.
This state-wide universal health care reform act is what served as the model for the national law President Obama just implemented.
The Republicans and their candidate now find themselves boxed into a dead-end alley.
The president’s health care reform bill has been approved by all three branches of government, and stands to insure over 30-million people who currently don’t have access to reliable medical treatment.
While there remains a lot of debate about the individual mandate provision in this plan, the problem for Republicans is they have no alternative solution for covering 30-million Americans, and Romney advocated for the individual mandate in Massachusetts.
This makes it very difficult for Romney and the Republicans to go out into the states and criticize President Obama’s health care reform plan with a straight face.
They have no credibility.
In fact the Romney camp complicated matters this week by defending President Obama’s assertion that in fact failure to sign up for health care under the new law should be considered a “penalty” and not a tax.
That’s because Romney already did this in Massachusetts.
The campaign has since changed its tune as Republican leadership requested they get on the same page.
And the flip-flops just keep on coming.