Earnest Democrats — those genuinely concerned about the debt, appalled by President Obama’s reflexive multilateralism and antipathy toward the Jewish state, and sincerely upset by the tone of our political discourse — have a problem. They’ve been disappointed in the president, yet they’ve been clinging to the fiction that Mitt Romney has “no ideas” and that somehow his campaign is as cynical as the president’s. But, if they are honest, they must have the nagging sense that their justification for sticking with the president is as thin as tissue paper.
Let’s face it: If Obama were genuinely concerned about economic growth he wouldn’t allow his desire to sock it to the “rich” overtake sane economics. (Not even Keynesians would say raising taxes when we are at nominal GDP growth is a good idea.) If he really cared about human rights he would have backed the Green Movement, spoken out about the atrocities against Christians in Muslim lands, condemned (not praised) Vladimir Putin’s rigged election and forcefully engaged the Chinese on their serial human rights abuses. If he wasn’t looking for excuses to do nothing he would not have deferred to the United Nations Security Council and then thrown up his hands once China and Russia vetoed action against Bashar al-Assad. If he had true empathy and affection for Israel he would not have “condemned” the Jewish state for building in its own capital, adopted the Palestinians’ position on the “1967 borders” (ambushing the Israeli prime minister) and thereby earned the enmity of so many pro-Israel Americans and Israelis (the latter now think Romney cares more about Israel than Obama by a 40 to 19 percent margin).
And then came this week’s performance. The president’s super PAC called Romney a murderer. The Obama campaign staff repeatedly lied about its knowledge of the ad and its financial support for its online hyping. The vice president adopts a mock Southern accent to tell African Americans Romney wants to put “y’all in chains,” while the president insists this was all about bank reform. In four years we’ve gone from “hope and change” to fear and chains.
It also became obvious, maybe midway through Romney’s whiteboard presentation, that Obama has nothing to say about Medicare reform, one of the most critical pieces of any fiscal reform. This exchange between Jake Tapper (is he the only member of the White House press corps doing his job?) and White House press dissembler Jay Carney highlighted this disturbing reality:
Does the president believe Medicare is on sustainable path?
The president believes, and knows, and others have judged it so, that the Affordable Care Act that he fought for and Congress passed into law extends the life of Medicare by eight years, the solvency of Medicare by 8 years. He knows that, as outside experts have made clear, that if ACA is repealed as Republican leaders have ardently expressed the desire to do, Medicare’s insolvency will come 8 years sooner. That’s an irrefutable fact. He knows that as said in discussions, debates, proposals about steps to get our fiscal house in order, through a balanced approach of reducing our deficit, that we need to make additional reforms that protect beneficiaries but make sure that Medicare remains in place as Medicare, not a voucher system.
[W]e haven’t seen any proposal to make Medicare sustainable. Say what you will about the Ryan plan or Romney plan – I know you disagree with it – but it does look forward. Where is the president’s plan?
I think what the President said in this briefing room remains true today and in the budget proposal he put forward this year, which has additional savings out of federal healthcare spending. But what it does not do is attempt to get our fiscal house in order by placing the entire burden on the disabled or poor families with children . . . [T]he thing is we don’t have to do that. The president’s plan, other balanced plans that have been put forward, demonstrate that you do not have to do that. . . . if you’re willing to on the other side make some compromises that everyone should pay their fair share.
So you’re saying the president’s Medicare plan is contained in his budget?
The president has put forward additional savings in health-care programs, not by cuts in benefits but savings from providers and insurance companies . . .
That’s not really in itself a solution to Medicare.
I’m not saying that ends the discussion about our fiscal challenges, but it does achieve the $4 trillion in deficit reduction that we need and does it in a balanced way that includes savings in health care reform.
Obama’s got nothing. Nothing.
You see, if despite all that, Democrats of good will who actually do worry about the debt and freedom and civility nevertheless support the president, they will have shown that partisanship really does trump all. Moreover, they will have gone a long way in encouraging every other president and presidential aspirant to sink to the bottom of the barrel rhetorically and practice the politics of cowardly non-leadership. They will ensure more of the political behavior they claim to abhor.
But, they protest, there is abortion, gay marriage and the environment. Well, far be it from me to say that these are lesser issues than freedom and the debt. But honestly, the Supreme Court has pretty much ended the abortion debate, and the states, as the president concedes, are in the driver’s seat on gay marriage. And after all, this is not a vote about just two candidates but about how we want politicians to conduct themselves going forward.
Now Mitt Romney may be a bridge too far for some Democrats. The least conservative GOP contender known for ideological deviations may be just too conservative for them. So what to do? They can write in their favorite Democrat. They can leave the presidential race blank on their ballot. Either way, they will have the satisfaction of knowing they did not contribute to the degradation of American politics nor reward those who insist that irresponsibility and fear-mongering are good politics.They will have made a powerful statement: Enough.