How The Right Wing Lost In 2012October 25th, 2012 12:00 am E. J. Dionne
Romney’s most revealing line: “We don’t want another Iraq.” Thus did he bury without ceremony the great Bush-Cheney project. He renounced a war he had once supported with vehemence and enthusiasm.
Then there’s budget policy. If the Romney/Paul Ryan budget and tax ideas were so popular, why would the candidate and his sidekick, the one-time devotee of Ayn Rand, be investing so much energy in hiding the most important details of their plans? For that matter, why would Ryan feel obligated to forsake his love for Rand, the proud philosopher of “the virtue of selfishness” and the thinker he once said had inspired his public service?
Romney knows that by substantial margins, the country favors raising taxes on the rich and opposes slashing many government programs, including Medicare and Social Security. Since Romney’s actual plan calls for cutting taxes on the rich, he has to disguise the fact. Where is the conviction?
The biggest sign that Tea Party thinking is dead is Romney’s straight-out deception about his past position on the rescue of the auto industry.
The bailout was the least popular policy Obama pursued — and, I’d argue, one of the most successful. It was Exhibit A for Tea Partiers who accused our moderately progressive president of being a socialist. In late 2008, one prominent Republican claimed that if the bailout the Detroit-based automakers sought went through, “you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.” The car companies, he said, would “seal their fate with a bailout check.” This would be the same Mitt Romney who tried to pretend on Monday that he never said what he said or thought what he thought. If the bailout is now good politics, and it is, then free-market fundamentalism has collapsed in a heap.
“Ideas have consequences” is one of the conservative movement’s most honored slogans. That the conservatives’ standard-bearer is now trying to escape the consequences of their ideas tells us all we need to know about who is winning the philosophical battle — and, because ideas do matter, who will win the election.
E.J. Dionne’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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