There is no conservative writer that I admire more than Ann Coulter. She's smart as hell and, more importantly, she is courageous. She has always been willing to write what other conservatives believe but don't have the guts to say in print. She has never played it safe and has certainly never adjusted her opinions for the sake of conforming to the conventional wisdom of Old Guard Republicans. In 2008, for example, she declared that she would not merely vote for, but actively campaign for Hillary Clinton if the Republican Party were foolish enough to nominate John McCain for President: "If you are looking at substance rather than if there is an R or a D after his name, manifestly, if he's our candidate, than Hillary is going to be our girl, because she's more conservative than he is."
But something has happened to Coulter. I don't have firsthand knowledge that she was kidnapped by RINO Team Six and taken to an offshore medical facility where she was forced to undergo a gruesome surgical procedure, but many of her recent columns suggest that something of the sort must have occurred. What else could explain her endorsement of Mitt Romney? Once immutable where her core convictions were concerned, she has executed a vertigo-inducing volte-face in order to promote a brazen opportunist whose positions on the big issues were the opposite of hers before he began running for President. She relentlessly trashes Republican "moderates" like McCain, yet now supports a candidate who makes the Arizona Senator look like Barry Goldwater by comparison.
It first became apparent that something awful had happened to Coulter last November, when she wrote a column asking "If Not Romney, Who? If Not Now, When?" In this surreal effusion, she claimed that the media were "pushing Newt Gingrich" and other alternatives to Romney "because they are terrified of running against him." This, as many pointed out at the time, was preposterous. The only thing that terrifies the media about Romney is that he might not get the GOP nomination. This is the man they want to run against. Unlike Coulter, the media and the Obama reelection team know that Romney can be easily portrayed as a Wall Street parasite whose only memorable "accomplishment" as the Governor of Massachusetts was the enactment of a health "reform" law that renders him unable to credibly denounce ObamaCare.
Which brings us to the latest evidence that Coulter has been somehow altered. Her inexplicable support for Romney has led her beyond being merely wrong about his chances in the general election to writing things that are either deliberately disingenuous or genuinely ignorant. The latest example of this tragic development is a column titled, "Three Cheers for RomneyCare." As its title suggests, this piece actually defends the Massachusetts "universal" health law. When I first read it, I could hardly believe such horse manure had emanated from Coulter's keyboard. The column opens with this howler: "If only the Democrats had decided to socialize the food industry or housing, RomneyCare would probably still be viewed as a massive triumph for conservative free-market principles -- as it was at the time."
First, Coulter apparently didn't notice, but the Democrats did socialize housing, and it triggered the most dangerous financial crisis since the Great Depression. More to the point, her suggestion that Romneycare was viewed by conservatives as a free-market triumph is revisionist nonsense. Coulter attempts to support this claim by naming a couple of conservatives who initially supported the law. Somehow, though, she neglects to mention the large number who opposed it. As Merrill Matthews pointed out in Forbes, when Newt Gingrich claimed in a debate that most conservatives once supported the mandate as a way of countering HillaryCare, "That's wrong. There was, in fact, a heated battle among conservatives, with a handful pushing for the mandate and the large majority opposing it."
Nor does Coulter mention that one of the two conservatives she cites as supporters of Romneycare and its mandate has long since recanted. Robert Moffitt of the Heritage Foundation, whom Coulter tells us was so excited about Romneycare that he "flew to Boston for the bill signing," realized years ago that mandates were not an effective mechanism for eliminating the "free-rider" problem. Since 2008, he has vigorously advocated "far better alternatives to the individual mandate." And Moffitt's buyer's remorse is by no means an isolated case. As Matthews puts it, "[V]irtually all conservatives… have come to realize that the mandate is the gateway drug to control the health care system." Coulter, in a journalistic sin of omission worthy of the New York Times, fails to note any of this.
She instead claims that conservatives dislike Romneycare "because both ObamaCare and Romneycare concern the same general topic area -- health care -- and can be nicknamed (politician's name plus "care")." To this ridiculous charge she adds the irrelevant point that mandates are constitutional when enacted by states rather than by the federal government. This is true enough, but it misses what should be an obvious point. Health care consumers are less concerned with constitutional nuances relating to federal versus state powers than with the reality that they will be forced to buy insurance whether they wish to or not. That the mandate was passed by a state legislature rather than Congress will not render voters less inclined to resent such government interference in their private transactions.
Coulter then reminds us that Romney has pledged to repeal Obamacare, but that promise will ring hollow once Axelrod & Co. inform the voters that the law is virtually identical, in its effect on their individual lives, to a law her candidate signed in Massachusetts. The damage this will do to Romney's credibility will be exacerbated when Obama's many friends in the "news" media point out that his reversal of position on health reform is part of a larger pattern of opportunism. They will gleefully report, for example, that Romney is also guilty of shameless flip-flops on Second Amendment rights and abortion. On the latter issue he has reversed himself no fewer than three times. When the voters see MSM "reporters" relentlessly pound him for such "evolution," they will realize that his campaign promises are meaningless.
Yet Coulter, once the scourge of such malleable "moderates," has gone through some sort of transformation that has rendered her blind to Romney's cheap opportunism. And if the primary voters are foolish enough to follow her advice, they will rue the day they listened to her and the establishment Republicans with whom she has now made common cause. As Coulter herself pointed out last year when she spoke at CPAC, Barack Obama will be reelected in 2012 if the Republican Party nominates Mitt Romney for President.
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