Sorry about the election. I know how much it hurts when your
presidential candidate loses. Iíve been there many times. Youíre
crestfallen. You canít believe the public voted for that idiot. You
fear for your country.
Cheer up. The guy we just re-elected is a moderate Republican.
I know how stupid that sounds. Barack Obama is the head of the
Democratic Party. For five years, conservative politicians and media
told you he was a raving socialist. In the heat of the campaign, when
youíre trying to beat the guy, itís hard to let go of that image of
him, just as itís hard for Democrats to see past the caricatures of
Mitt Romney. But now that the campaign is over and youíre staring at a
second Obama term, the falsity of the propaganda may come as a relief.
By and large, Obamaís instincts are the instincts of a moderate
Republican. His policies are the policies of a moderate Republican. He
stands where the GOP used to stand and will someday stand again.
Yes, Obama began his presidency with bailouts, stimulus, and
borrowing. You know who started the bailouts? George W. Bush. Bush
knew that under these exceptionally dire circumstances, bailouts had
to be done. Stimulus had to be done, too, since the economy had frozen
up. A third of the stimulus was tax cuts. Once the economy began to
revive, Obama offered a $4-trillion debt reduction framework that
would have cut $3 to $6 of spending for every $1 in tax hikes. Thatís
a higher ratio of cuts to hikes than Republican voters, in a Gallup
poll, said they preferred. Itís way more conservative than the ratio
George H. W. Bush accepted in 1990. In last yearís debt-ceiling talks,
Obama offered cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in
exchange for revenue that didnít even come from higher tax rates. Now
heís proposing to lower corporate tax rates, and Republicans are
whining that he hacked $716 billion out of Medicare. Some socialist.
Yes, Obama imposed an individual mandate to buy health insurance. You
know who else did that? Romney. You know where the idea came from? The
Heritage Foundation. Personal responsibilityóinsisting that people
carry private insurance so we donít have to bail them out in emergency
rooms and hospitalsówas a Republican idea. Same with Wall Street
reform: Thereís nothing conservative about letting financial
institutions gamble with other peopleís money in ways that would force
us to bail them out again. Even Obamaís cap-and-trade proposal echoed
the market-based emissions-control policies of the 1990 Bush
administration and the 2008 McCain campaign. And last year, when the
EPA proposed a new air-pollution limit, Obama ticked off
environmentalists by killing it on the grounds that it might
jeopardize the recovery.
Remember how Democrats ridiculed George W. Bushís troop surge in Iraq?
Obama copied it in Afghanistan. He escalated the drone program,
killing off al-Qaidaís leaders. He sent SEAL Team 6 into Pakistan to
get Osama Bin Laden. He teamed up with NATO to take down Muammar
Qaddafi. He reneged on his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay. He put
together a globally enforced regime of sanctions that is bringing
Iranís economy to its knees. Thatís why Romney had nothing to say in
last monthís foreign policy debate. No sensible Republican president
would have done things differently.
Obamaís no right-winger. You might have serious issues with his
Supreme Court justices or his moves on immigration or the Bush tax
cuts. But you probably would have had similar issues with Dwight
Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, or Gerald Ford. Obamaís in the same mold as
those guys. So donít despair. Your country didnít vote for a socialist
tonight. It voted for the candidate of traditional Republican
moderation. What should gall you, haunt you, and goad you to think
about the future of your party is that that candidate wasnít yours.
-- William Saletan, STATE 11/7/2012