There are plenty of positive reasons for re-electing President Barack Obama next Tuesday week and these have been described eloquently elsewhere. For some of the best and most thoughtful, see Fareed Zakaria in The Washington Post and recent editorial endorsements from the Post and The New York Times. For the most thoughtful analysis also check out the latest edition of the The New Yorker magazine.
To summarize, Obama inherited a gigantic financial collapse from his predecessor that threatened an economic collapse of Great Depression proportions, and a country whose standing in the world had greatly diminished in the wake of the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the torturing and indefinite detention of suspected terrorists in Guantánamo and secret CIA prisons.
After four years, America’s standing is largely restored (Guantánamo, alas, remains in operation but the US now follows international law in the treatment of detainees) and the economy is slowly growing thanks largely to a highly effective stimulus package, that placed a floor under its precipitous descent, and well-managed automobile and banking industry bailouts; this, despite strong headwinds from poorly performing economies in Europe and elsewhere.
Yet even if the positive case for Obama failed to convince a wavering voter, the nature of his opponent should make this election a no-brainer.
Mitt Romney has lied and flip-flopped his way through this campaign in a manner that is both unprecedented and breathtaking. For Romney, truth and principle have been about as welcome as ex-girlfriends with halitosis in his efforts to win the presidency and tick off that final box on his career to-do list.
This political chameleon has morphed from a 1990’s moderate who supported a woman’s choice on abortion, who believed in an individual mandate for his state’s Obamacare-like health insurance reform law, who understood that relying on emergency rooms as a substitute for health insurance made no sense, who had progressive views on immigration, gun control and Lord knows what else, into a “severe conservative” who would take women’s health choices away from them, including the right to decide whether to have an abortion, who has become the NRA’s best pal, who will undo a national health insurance reform law modeled on his own in Massachusetts, and who will slash government programs for the neediest Americans so that those in his own class cannot only continue to enjoy their low tax rates but see them lowered still more; a man who will shred the social safety net while spending badly needed dollars on ships the navy doesn’t want or need. Oh and maybe start a war with Iran under prodding from his good buddy, Bibi Netanyahu.
He has been utterly dishonest about President Obama and his own plans. Treating fact-checkers as a sort of white background noise, Romney repeatedly tells whoppers such as Obama’s imaginary “apology tour” around the world or about the stimulus that made the economy worse when independent and authoritative analyses have effectively debunked both claims. He parrots the ideology of the most extreme adherents of what has become an extremist GOP which has no commonality with or similarity to any conservative party in the industrialized world.
The most shocking aspect of all this is how incredibly insulting it is to the American electorate. Some of his contempt was captured in his unguarded comments before a group of wealthy donors in the now famous video in which he dismisses 47% of voters as losers and freeloaders. But beyond dividing the country into strivers and whiners, Romney is also saying without actually voicing the words: I know I can tell lies about my opponent and you people will have no clue; I know I can promise to cut taxes across the board, raise spending on defense and reduce the deficit simultaneously and you idiots won’t realize that the math makes it impossible without eviscerating every other government program you can think of. And I can promise the moon without giving a single useful detail about any of it and you bozos will still elect me president.
I guess a week from Tuesday we’ll see if he’s right.