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“Mr. Romney Reinvents History”: Says His Party Rallied Behind President Obama

Mitt Romney wrapped the most important speech of his life, for Thursday night’s session of his convention, around an extraordinary reinvention of history — that his party rallied behind President Obama when he won in 2008, hoping that he would succeed. “That president was not the choice of our party,” he said. “We are a good and generous people who are united by so much more than divides us.”

The truth, rarely heard this week in Tampa, Fla., is that the Republicans charted a course of denial and obstruction from the day Mr. Obama was inaugurated, determined to deny him a second term by denying him any achievement, no matter the cost to the economy or American security — even if it meant holding the nation’s credit rating hostage to a narrow partisan agenda.

Mr. Romney’s big speech, delivered in a treacly tone with a strange misty smile on his face suggesting he was always about to burst into tears, was of a piece with the rest of the convention. Republicans have offered precious little of substance but a lot of bromides (“A free world is a more peaceful world!”) meant to convey profundity and take passive-aggressive digs at President Obama. But no subjects have received less attention, or been treated with less honesty, than foreign affairs and national security — and Mr. Romney’s banal speech was no exception.

It’s easy to understand why the Republicans have steered clear of these areas. While President Obama is vulnerable on some domestic issues, the Republicans have no purchase on foreign and security policy. In a television interview on Wednesday, Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, could not name an area in which Mr. Obama had failed on foreign policy.

For decades, the Republicans were able to present themselves as the tougher party on foreign and military policy. Mr. Obama has robbed them of that by being aggressive on counterterrorism and by flexing military and diplomatic muscle repeatedly and effectively.

Mitt Romney has tried to sound tough, but it’s hard to see how he would act differently from Mr. Obama except in ways that are scary — like attacking Iran, or overspending on defense in ways that would not provide extra safety but would hurt the economy.

Before Thursday night, the big foreign policy speeches were delivered by Senator John McCain and Ms. Rice. Mr. McCain was specific on one thing: Mr. Obama’s plan to start pulling out of Afghanistan at the end of 2014 is too rapid. While he does not speak for Mr. Romney, his other ideas were unnerving, like suggesting that the United States should intervene in Syria.

Mr. Romney reportedly considered Ms. Rice as a running mate, and she seems to have real influence. But Ms. Rice is a reminder of the colossal errors and deceptions of George W. Bush’s administration. She was a central player in the decision to invade Iraq and the peddling of fantasies about weapons of mass destruction. She barely mentioned Iraq in her speech and spoke not at all about Afghanistan. She was particularly ludicrous when she talked about keeping America strong at home so it could be strong globally, since she was part of the team that fought two wars off the books and entirely on borrowed money.
Ms. Rice said the United States has lost its “exceptionalism,” but she never gave the slightest clue what she meant by that — a return to President Bush’s policy of preventive and unnecessary war?

She and Mr. McCain both invoked the idea of “peace through strength,” but one of the few concrete proposals Mr. Romney has made — spending 4 percent of G.D.P. on defense — would weaken the economy severely. Mr. McCain was not telling the truth when he said Mr. Obama wants to cut another $500 billion from military spending. That amount was imposed by the Republicans as part of the extortion they demanded to raise the debt ceiling.

Ms. Rice said American allies need to know where the United States stands and that alliances are vitally important. But the truth is that Mr. Obama has repaired those alliances and restored allies’ confidence in America’s position after Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice spent years tearing them apart and ruining America’s reputation in the world.

The one alliance on which there is real debate between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama is with Israel. But it is not, as Mr. Romney and his supporters want Americans to believe, about whether Mr. Obama is a supporter of Israel. Every modern president has been, including Mr. Obama. Apart from outsourcing his policy to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on settlements, it’s not clear what Mr. Romney would do differently.

But after watching the Republicans for three days in Florida, that comes as no surprise.

 

By: Editorial, The New York Times, August 30, 2012

 

September 1, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“No Policy Or Vision”: The Hole In Mitt Romney’s Campaign

Criticism of Mitt Romney for lacking a coherent message is grossly unfair. He has been forthright, consistent and even eloquent in pressing home his campaign’s central theme: Mitt Romney desperately wants to be president.

Everything else seems mushy or negotiable. Romney is passionate about the need, as he sees it, to defeat President Obama — but vague or self-contradictory as to why. The lyrics of “America the Beautiful,” which Romney has recited as part of his standard campaign speech, don’t solve the mystery; Obama, too, is on record as supporting spacious skies and fruited plains.

Beyond personal ambition, what does Romney stand for? Obviously, judging by Rick Santorum’s clean sweep Tuesday, I’m not the only one asking the question. I suspect an honest answer would be something like “situational competence” — Romney boasts of having rescued the 2002 Olympics, served as the Republican governor of one of the nation’s most Democratic states and made profitable choices about where to invest his money. But with the economy improving and the stock market soaring, Romney’s president-as-CEO argument loses whatever relevance it might have had.

To conservative groups, Romney can sound like a true believer who never met a tax or a labor union he could abide — and not at all like a “Massachusetts moderate,” which is what Newt Gingrich claims Romney really is.

But Romney will never be able to match Gingrich’s record, for better or worse, as one of the key figures in the development of the modern conservative movement. And Romney — who once was pro-choice — will never be able to get to the right of Santorum on social issues.

The intended centerpiece of the Romney campaign — his 160-page economic plan — is really just a list of proposed measures with no discernible ideological framework holding them together. “Any American living through this economic crisis will immediately recognize the severity of the break that Mitt Romney proposes from our current course,” the candidate promises on his Web site. But much of what he pledges to do on “Day One” has already been accomplished, or is promised, by Obama.

Romney wants to cut the corporate tax rate; Obama has said he wants to lower rates while also closing loopholes.

Romney wants to forge new trade agreements; Obama signed into law free-trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

Romney wants to weed out burdensome regulations; Obama has such a project underway.

Romney wants to survey and safely exploit U.S. energy reserves; Obama says essentially the same thing.

To be sure, some other initiatives Romney promises on Day One would take us in precisely the wrong direction. He would ask Congress for a gratuitous $20 million budget cut that would fail to make a scratch, let alone a dent, in the deficit. He would propose ending the federal role in job training, thus abdicating presidential responsibility for meeting one of the central challenges facing our economy. He would sanction China for manipulating its currency — and, perhaps, launch a needless trade war. He would seek to discourage the use of union labor on government projects, purely as a sop to the conservative GOP base.

And, of course, Romney wants to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, whose centerpiece, the individual insurance mandate, was pioneered in Massachusetts. By Romney. Who continues to defend the mandate as a good idea — too good, apparently, for the rest of the country.

My point is that even Romney’s sharp disagreements with Obama’s policies don’t add up to a philosophy or a vision. They’re more like what stuck after a bunch of random tough-sounding positions were thrown at the wall.

On foreign affairs, Romney offers a lot of blah blah blah about “restoring the sinews of American power” and the like, but nothing as distinctive as, say, Santorum’s extreme hawkishness on Iran or Ron Paul’s isolationist call to bring the troops home from just about everywhere. It’s hard to find any substantive differences between what Romney would do and what Obama is already doing.

Romney does accuse Obama of “appeasement,” and perhaps the charge would have some credibility if Obama hadn’t ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, or used unmanned missile-firing drones to decimate the international jihadist leadership, or helped eliminate dictator Moammar Gaddafi, or demonstrated in countless other ways that whatever else he might be, no one can call him some kind of flower-power peacenik.

One distinction — and, really, this may be the most original position that Romney takes on anything — is that he has ruled out negotiations with the Taliban and apparently wants to extend the U.S. troop commitment in Afghanistan indefinitely.

Wish him luck with that on the campaign trail. He’ll need it.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, February 9, 2012

February 11, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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