Romney's in No Position to Criticize Perry on Immigration

Mitt Romney should not attack Rick Perry on immigration as Romneycare is a much bigger problem.

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Here, via National Review's Katrino Trinko, is a nutshell version of why former Gov. Mitt Romney is such a loathsome political animal.

It's a one-minute campaign video that highlights Gov. Rick Perry's in-state tuition program for children of illegal immigrants and the inconvenient praise it drew from President Obama and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. "They agree," the clip declares with a snicker.

The use of the Obama-Perry parallel defies belief. Romney's tack here is akin to a kid with a "Kick Me" sign on his back trying to tape a "Kick Me" sign on another kid's back.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the GOP hopefuls.]

Romney is either utterly lacking in self-awareness, and his camp has just blithely forgotten about the fact that Obamacare exactly resembles, in both form and function, Romneycare. Or he's a thoroughgoing cynic. (My money's on the latter.)

If Mitt Romney can wave away inconvenient parallels with a Democratic president by playing the "federalism" card, why can't Rick Perry?

As Perry booster Erick Erickson argues:

You and I may not like Romneycare, but it was Mitt Romney and Massachusetts' decision.

You and I may not like Texas giving illegal aliens in-state tuition rates, but it was Rick Perry and Texas' decision.

Digging deeper though, there is a real and serious problem that distinguishes  the two issues and gives me greater concern about Romneycare. And I'm afraid with so much pile on over the Texas immigration decision, it has distracted us from a core issue of Romneycare about which we should be more focused.

Texas did what Texas did because Washington failed to do anything. The difference between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry is that Perry never said that what Texas did on immigration is the right fit for every state [emphasis mine].

This is a fair point—and the fact that Romney blatantly lies about having done so makes it even more salient.

[See a collection of political cartoons on healthcare.]

It occurs to me that Romney could, in fact, argue that by not enacting comprehensive healthcare reform, Washington failed in his case, too. What he does argue—"Our plan was a state solution to a state problem" —travels along these lines. But, as Jonathan Chait notes, the federalist mantra doesn't really fly in Romney's case, since Massachusetts' problem was the same as every other state's: namely, how to get healthy people to buy into the system in order to extend insurance to people who can't afford it.

Romney or Perry? The choice calls to mind a certain two-word review of Spinal Tap's Shark Sandwich album.