The latest attack against Mitt Romney and his complicated stance on the health care debate is coming from an unexpected source: the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal.
In an editorial published online last night, the Journal slams Romney and his staff for their inability (or unwillingness?) to stick it to President Obama over the "penalty vs. tax" debate when it comes to the health care and the individual mandate. The paper says that by siding with the President and calling it a penalty, he gave the Obama campaign a "gift" that undermines Republican arguments and turns the unpopular Supreme Court decision into a "second defeat." Then by flipping his strategy and calling it a tax — as Romney did multiple times on Wednesday — "the campaign looks confused in addition to being politically dumb."
They didn't stop there either. The editorial also nails Romney for his recent jet-ski photos (playing right into his "out-of-touch rich guy" narrative), his weak response to the never-ending Bain Capital attacks, and his new questions about outsourcing and foreign bank accounts. The Journal's biggest complaint though is that Romney seems to think he can sit back and let a terrible economy do all his campaigning for him.
The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault. We're on its email list and the main daily message from the campaign is that "Obama isn't working." Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that.
The Journal also says that Romney is "letting down" Republicans who "desperately want to defeat" the President. Well, we already know that one of those people who is being let down is the paper's owner. Rupert Murdoch took some heat last weekend for criticizing the candidate online, even as he made it clear that he wants to see Romney victorious. In fact, the arguments that Murdoch made on Twitter basically mirror those made in the editorial. Here's Murdoch on Sunday:
Met Romney last week.Tough O Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful.— Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch) July 1, 2012
And the Journal today:
This latest mistake is of a piece with the campaign's insular staff and strategy that are slowly squandering an historic opportunity.
As BuzzFeed's Ben Smith has noted, Murdoch and his papers are clearly no fans of the President and his policies, but they've also been among Romney's fiercest critics on the right. Murdoch may not have written the editorial himself, but he may as well have. Murdoch is convinced that Romney isn't doing enough to win and until he see otherwise, The Wall Street Journal — a normally reliable defender of the conservative politics — is going to let him know about it.