His Democratic foe, Mitt Romney declared, would "drag America down to Europe's standards." His opponent represents, Romney insisted, "the old, classic, European caricature that we describe of big government, big taxation, welfare state." But those now-familiar slanders weren't directed at Barack Obama last night in New Hampshire, but against Hillary Clinton in 2007. As it turns out, Mitt Romney has dusted off his old 2008 campaign playbook for his second run for the White House.
For weeks, Governor Romney has assailed President Obama
for supposedly wanting to create "an entitlement society" in which "government should create equal outcomes." As he put it last Tuesday in Iowa
, "I think he believes America should become a European-style welfare state."
After his victory in New Hampshire, Romney repeated that Obama "wants to turn America into a European-style entitlement society" and "takes his inspiration from the capitals of Europe."
As it turns out, Romney's anti-Obama rhetoric in 2012 takes its inspiration from a strategy document his campaign created in 2007 to defeat Hillary Clinton.
In February 2007, the Boston Globe obtained a 77-slide Powerpoint presentation laying out the Romney campaign's approach for the challenges and competitors he would face in 2008. The document detailed strategies for overcoming his reputation as a "flip-flopper", addressing his Mormon faith, defeating John McCain and, most of all, beating Hillary Clinton in the general election. If the language drafted by his consultant Alex Castellanos sounded familiar (the same Alex Castellanos who then as now serves as a CNN regular despite calling Hillary Clinton a "bitch" on the air), it should:
The plan, for instance, indicates that Romney will define himself in part by focusing on and highlighting enemies and adversaries, such common political targets as "jihadism," the "Washington establishment," and taxes, but also Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, "European-style socialism," and, specifically, France. Even Massachusetts, where Romney has lived for almost 40 years, is listed as one of those "bogeymen," alongside liberalism and Hollywood values...
Enmity toward France, where Romney did his Mormon mission during college, is a recurring theme of the document. The European Union, it says at one point, wants to "drag America down to Europe's standards," adding: "That's where Hillary and Dems would take us. Hillary = France." The plan even envisions "First, not France" bumper stickers.
<(The 2007 plan has other intriguing details. As the Globe noted, the document foreshadowed Romney's much-hyped December 2007 speech on "Faith in America,"
raising "the possibility of Romney delivering such an address at George H.W. Bush's presidential library outside Houston, the same city where Kennedy gave his." Positioning Romney five years ago as the "tested, intelligent, get-it-done, turnaround CEO Governor and strong leader from outside Washington," the presentation described Mitt's differences with George W. Bush
in one word: "intelligence.")
As Americans fast-forward to 2012, it's all too evident that Mitt Romney simply didn't a "Find and Replace" on Hillary Clinton, swapping 2008's failed Democratic frontrunner with this year's incumbent Democratic President. Five years ago Romney warned voters that his Democratic rival would "take America in a sharp left turn towards Europe with big government, big taxes, Big Brother running your lives." Now, as he explained in Iowa the day before his 8-vote victory in the caucuses there and again last night, it is Barack Obama who is a threat to "the soul of America":
"[He] sees the European welfare state as perhaps being the more appropriate model. An entitlement society, where the role of government is increasingly to take from someone to give to others. That would deaden the American spirit. That would substitute envy for ambition. It would poison the very spirit of America that allows us to be one nation under God."
But in that nation under God, the real poison comes from Republican demagogues like Mitt Romney who simply refuse to tell the truth. Their supposed fascist/socialist/Marxist/Nazi Barack Obama delivered the largest two year tax cut in modern American history even as the Dow Jones grew by a third during his time in office. (Executive pay rose by 23% in 2010; since 2009, corporate profits "captured 88% of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1% of the growth in real national income.") Under his deficit-cutting health care program, most Americans will pay for private insurance to cover care from private doctors and private hospitals. While the 600,000 layoffs by state and local governments dwarfed any gains in federal hiring, the sluggish U.S. economy has produced 21 straight months of private sector job growth. Thanks to President Obama, the U.S. auto industry not only saved a million jobs for Americans, but now enjoys growing sales and large profits for shareholders. It's no wonder Mark Zandi, the economic adviser to the same John McCain who endorsed Mitt Romney last week, confirmed the analysis of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and concluded that the Obama administration averted "Great Depression 2.0."
Of course, Mitt Romney isn't running against the real Barack Obama now, but instead a mythical Hillary Clinton he invented back in 2007.
* Crossposted at Perrspectives *