Humble pie, that is. Nancy sent me this gem from the May 2, 1994 edition of The Morning Call, the daily newspaper in Allentown, Pennsylvania:
Santorum and [his Republican primary opponent Joe] Watkins would require individuals to buy health insurance rather than forcing employers to pay for employee benefits.
Yes, that’s the same Sen. Santorum who now condemns not just the federal government requiring people to buy health insurance, but–as in RomneyCare–the state governments doing so, just as they do with car insurance. This is just more evidence that in the 1990s, a mandate was the “conservative” position, as Speaker Gingrich himself has said. That’s why when Gov. Romney went to the conservative Heritage Foundation in the early 2000s for help on health care, they gave him the same prescription. Perhaps (as Heritage now quite honorably says) they and the many Republican politicians of Sen. Santorum’s vintage who held his position in the 1990s (including the one who supported RomneyCare itself in 2006) were wrong. That’s perfectly fine. But that’s not the message voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have heard so far.
The nonsense many are selling is that one guy is the “Massachusetts moderate” and that others can be the “conservative alternative.” But the truth is that none of these men is massively more conservative than the others. They’ve all fallen short of conservative orthodoxy of whatever vintage, be it 1980, 1994, or 2012. They are all politicians, not to mention people. The difference is simply this: Only one of them has shown the discipline to build a machine and broadcast a message that will be able to survive, let alone defeat, the coming Obama onslaught.
His name is Mitt Romney. He’s not perfect. He’s had to eat some humble pie himself. But he is the only real alternative.