According to Time's Mark Halperin, on Thursday, Mitt Romney will deliver a speech on health care, "complete with PowerPoint presentation," explaining how he'll repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with something better. This could be because Mitt has been working hard on this issue and cares about it deeply, or it could be because Mitt's biggest problem with Republican primary voters is that he passed a plan in Massachusetts very similar to the Affordable Care Act, or as The Onion put it, "Mitt Romney Haunted By Past of Trying to Help Uninsured Sick People."
Either way, it's hard to see how this will solve his political problem. Romney got trapped in what Ezra Klein calls the reverse-Obamaization of the Republican Party, namely that whatever Barack Obama is for, they have to turn against, even if it's something they used to be for. The problem is that this process isn't based in policy; it's based in something more emotional and visceral. As far as many Republicans are concerned, when Obama touches something, it isn't just revealed as misguided; it becomes irrevocably contaminated. If you touched it, even if you did so before Obama did, you too are contaminated.
The ideas of contamination and disgust are actually quite relevant to politics; University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt has done a lot of work on disgust (see here), and one of the things he has found is that it is much more tightly wound into the moral judgments of conservatives than those of liberals. At the risk of extending the metaphor too far, it seems to me that Romney's problem is that whenever health care is brought up, in the eyes of conservatives, he's covered in something disgusting -- vomit, feces, rotting flesh. It isn't enough to say, "Let me just take some of these maggots...there!" To remove the stench, he needs to do a much more thorough decontamination, of the kind that involves guys in hazmat suits spraying him with high-pressure hoses. And it's hard to see what that might be.
A speech, furthermore, isn't going to do it. Yes, it's true that in 2008 Barack Obama has had some dramatic speeches (for instance, his Philadelphia speech on race) that had a substantial impact on the campaign. But after he's done with his speech, Romney is still going to have to go house to house in Iowa and New Hampshire, having cameras film him while an angry Tea Partier screams, "You supported Obamacare!" and he smiles awkwardly, then says, "If I had my PowerPoint here I could show you my plan..."
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