Mitt Romney is the second coming of former President George W. Bush. This is the false argument being peddled by Democrats and their liberal media allies. President Obama ceaselessly stresses that the Republican candidate will return America “to the failed policies of the past.” In other words, the left’s narrative is clear: A Romney administration would represent a third Bush term.
The Democrats are hoping to replicate the strategy that worked so well for President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the 1930s. The New Deal failed. FDR never restored the economy. In fact, he created massive deficits, soaring debt and the early entitlement state — combining government expansion with rampant political cronyism. His tax-and-spend policies prolonged the Depression. Yet, to distract Americans from economic misery and widespread corruption, FDR — aided and abetted by the pro-New Deal press corps — resorted to shameless demagoguery. He relentlessly demonized his Republican predecessor, Herbert Hoover. FDR blamed Hoover for all of the country’s woes — including the rise of Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. The strategy succeeded. FDR won four consecutive elections.
For Democrats, Mr. Bush is the Hoover of our time — a convenient scapegoat who allegedly is responsible for every single problem — skyrocketing spending, our debt crisis, anemic growth, high unemployment, “racism,” “homophobia,” the rise of radical Islam, wars in the Middle East, the housing crash, the 2008 financial crisis, the Great Recession, greedy bankers, Hurricane Katrina, the breakup of the eurozone, China’s ascendency, Russia’s resurgence, Iran wanting the bomb, North Korea’s nuclear weapons, America’s decline, drugs, exploding crime and decaying roads. You name it, Mr. Bush is the culprit. Recently, former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright was asked how long Democrats would continue to assault Mr. Bush. Her answer: “Forever.”
Mr. Obama aims to portray Mr. Romney as a Bush clone, hoping to convince voters that the GOP plans to drag America back to the hated Bush years. It won’t work for one simple reason: Mr. Romney is very different from Mr. Bush. The two men come from distinct ideological camps. Mr. Bush was a Great Society Republican. He championed big-government conservatism at home and neo-Wilsonian internationalism abroad. Mr. Romney, however, is a traditional Eisenhower Republican. He believes in fiscal restraint and a realist foreign policy. He understands that Americans no longer want to engage in nation-building and exporting democracy. Mr. Bush’s freedom agenda is dead — broken on the anvil of the Arab Spring and looming national bankruptcy. We can no longer afford another Iraq or Afghanistan.
The times have changed — and so has the GOP. The Republican Party in Tampa Bay is not the party of your father or even of Mr. Bush. Republicans have come to terms with the seminal threat of our age: our ticking debt bomb. We are the most indebted nation in history. Unless this bomb is defused, it will blow up our entire economy. Like Greece, America will collapse from the crushing weight of entitlements, out-of-control spending and record deficits. Our credit rating has been downgraded. Under Mr. Obama, the federal government has piled up unprecedented debt — nearly $5 trillion. He has produced consecutive trillion-dollar-plus deficits. The national debt is around $16 trillion. It is poised to hit $20 trillion by 2016. This is sheer madness. We are drowning in an ocean of red ink.
Mr. Obama’s solution is to spend even more money. Should he win re-election, his goal is to raise taxes on the wealthy, implement Obamacare, pass another huge stimulus, increase business regulations, take over other sectors of the economy, maintain high levels of deficit spending, impose expensive cap-and-trade environmental policies and grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. The results will be disastrous. Capital will flee. Unemployment will soar. Manufacturing will be decimated. The welfare state will explode in cost and size. The nation will collapse into insolvency and chaos. We will descend into another Great Depression. America will be transformed into a second-rate country. In short, we will become Europe.
America is like a giant bankrupt corporation. It does not need any more champions of big government. It needs something more humble, more prudent and even boring: an accountant. It needs a president who can slash spending, balance budgets, jump-start economic vitality and unleash the private sector. It needs a turnaround specialist. It needs Mr. Romney. He should win — and win big — in November. No amount of Bush-bashing can save Mr. Obama from this reckoning with history.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and host of “The Kuhner Report” on Boston’s WRKO 680-AM (wrko.com).