William McGurn, Wall Street Journal, April 16:
Now, the president’s likability doesn’t mean Mr. Romney shouldn’t go on the offensive. It does mean he ought to attack hardest where Mr. Obama is at his weakest: his failed policies. For all the carping about Mr. Romney, this part he gets. We can see it reflected in both his embrace of the opportunity-oriented Republicanism of Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan—and his repeated refrain that Mr. Obama is simply “in over his head.”
Mr. Romney is hardly the first Republican presidential aspirant to take that tack against a Democratic incumbent. In 1980, Ronald Reagan zeroed in on Jimmy Carter’s competence…
Mr. Romney now has a similar opportunity. Certainly he can point out that Mr. Obama has no excuses. If ever the stars were in alignment for liberal Democratic policies to shine, it was during the first two years of Mr. Obama’s presidency, after he had handily defeated John McCain and been sent to Washington with huge, veto-proof majorities in Congress.
McGurn was apparently vacationing on another planet during the first two years of “Mr. Obama’s” presidency, but he’s right about those brightly aligned stars. Barack Obama and the best and brightest of his Democratic colleagues in Congress seized the hell out of that moment. Liberal Democratic policies shone brightly indeed, despite Republican efforts to dim the lights.
ARRA, the $787 billion bill signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009, was the largest economic stimulus package in the nation’s history. It saved and created millions of jobs and ensured that the Bush Recession didn’t become Great Depression 2.0.
At a projected final net cost to taxpayers of a mere $16 billion, 2009’s auto bailout saved GM, Chrysler and an untold number of ancillary companies, preserving millions more jobs. 100,000 new industry jobs have since been created, and for the first time in many, many years, the Big Three have actually gained market share.
Over 30 million uninsured Americans will have health coverage once all the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act kick in by 2014 (assuming McGurn’s party doesn’t succeed in killing it).
Withdrawal from Iraq, now complete, was then begun in earnest. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became law. New financial regulations were enacted, including the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Banks were cut out of the student loan process. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed. Tax cuts were targeted to the poor and middle class, rather than the wealthy. Osama Bin Laden was killed. Two solid liberals, both women, were appointed to the Supreme Court.
There’s much more, of course, not that Republicans would acknowledge any of it. And while it’s perfectly normal for one party to deride the so-called “failed policies” of the other, whether the charge is accurate or not, McGurn’s derision is tinged – nay, soaked – with irony, since he was George W. Bush’s chief speechwriter from mid-2006 to February 2008. His employer’s policies were the epitome of failure, and it was McGurn’s job to write the sales pitch (one that less than 30% of the populace fell for in the end). When it comes to recognizing successful policy, much less commenting on it, McGurn’s credibility is less than zero.
Will the “in over his head” narrative stick? Sure, but only with those already convinced to believe it by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and right-wing pulpits across the country. Most everyone else knows better.