Jewish World Review Aug 3, 2012 / 15 Menachem-Av, 5772
By Jonah Goldberg
This is shaping up to be the second election in a row that's about someone who isn't on the ballot:
Like a general fighting the last war, Obama is going with what's worked for him in the past. And the thing is, it might work for him in the future.
Whatever character flaws Obama's relentless buck-passing might reveal, and whether or not it's fair to Bush, the simple fact is that it may well be good politics. The Obama campaign has spent millions on polls and market research. If Bush-bashing was really hurting Obama's numbers, he'd stop doing it. Instead, he relentlessly insists in ads and speeches that
"If you agree with the approach I just described, if you want to give the policies of the last decade another try, then you should vote for Mr. Romney," Obama declared in his
Romney hasn't helped matters. When asked by
But Obama has the distinct advantage of being branded as the anti-Bush candidate in the race.
Romney needs to explain to voters why he's not Bush 2.0. Republican politics have been off-kilter for several years now because a large segment of the conservative base does not look back fondly on the Bush presidency. The mainstream media's various narratives about the
Whether this is fair is an argument for another time. The political reality is that many people believe it. This is why Obama constantly talks about "inheriting" all of this debt from Bush. And that's true. Obama did inherit a deficit when he came into office. Why this fact justifies racking up vastly more debt and bigger deficits is a logical mystery.
In the last four years we've added
In short, Romney needs to say that when it comes to spending and the growth of government, it's Obama who's closer to "Bush on steroids."
To do so, Romney must challenge Obama's theories of both the past and the future. The notion that Bush was a government-shrinking market fanatic is bizarre. Under Bush, the federal government spent more than 3 percent of GDP on anti-poverty programs for the first time. Education spending rose 58 percent faster than inflation. Bush gave us
Obama took many of these policies and approaches and expanded them. Historians will look back on the Bush-Obama years as a time of largely uninterrupted growth in government and debt.
I don't believe the
Romney shouldn't attack Bush personally. Nor should he be strident in his criticisms of Bush policies. (There are substantive defenses of his record to be made.) But Romney is under no obligation to defend runaway spending by either party. Indeed, congressional Republicans admitted that, in the words of Rep.
Romney should follow their example.
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