A Capital View: Another Mr. Fix-It?

According to Mitt Romney, Washington is broken and he's going to fix it when elected.

The Republican presidential candidate is dreaming. There are 535 members of Congress, many in his own party, a stubborn bureaucracy, and a tough press corps who will present some challenges to that promise.

Romney is hardly the first outsider to run against Washington--an easy target. Politicians of both parties do it all the time at the presidential and congressional levels.

Remember Jimmy Carter in 1976. The former governor of Georgia attacked Washington and said the income tax system was "a disgrace to the human race."

Another outsider this year, Mike Huckabee, is proposing a 23 percent national sales tax and abolition of the income tax. Talk about dead on arrival. There is no way that will ever happen.

In 1980, former Gov. Ronald Reagan ran against Carter and Washington. He made the grade, largely because Carter was so unpopular with voters.

Another former governor, Democrat Michael Dukakis, promised a new day in the capital in 1988, but George H. W. Bush won with the status quo and as a Reagan protege.

George W. Bush prevailed in 2000 largely because he said his "compassionate conservatism" would replace the high-voltage years of Bill. Clinton. Bush forgot the compassionate part on Inauguration Day.

In the current campaign, Romney and Huckabee are hardly alone. Former Democratic Sen. John Edwards rails against Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as being Washington insiders who can't bring about change in Washington. He's in third place, barely hanging on.

Members of Congress of both parties frequently rip Congress, the institution, back home. But they always manage to distance themselves from the mess they are bloviating about.

Polls frequently show voters angry at Congress but totally supportive of their own lawmaker.

So Romney's tough talk may draw applause from audiences, but for now that is only campaign rhetoric.

By John W. Mashek