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Worse Than Bush

I strongly endorse everything in Dan McCarthy’s recent post:

And sure enough, history repeated, with a GOP this year nominating a candidate who, if anything, is worse than Bush: more reckless in his foreign-policy pronouncements, more statist in his governing record, and more detached from the concerns of the heartland. There is simply no evidence to suggest that Romney will be more conservative or, more important, a better president than Bush was. All the evidence points in the opposite direction.

Romney has given us every reason to believe that his foreign policy would be like Bush’s, but his statements over the years suggest that he would be even less diplomatic in his dealings with other nations. While Bush occasionally understood the value of cooperation with other major powers, Romney has set out from the beginning as an antagonist of both Russia and China. Far from demonstrating geopolitical savvy, Romney has displayed nothing but “omni-directional belligerence” and a typical hawkish ability to exaggerate and invent threats. Conservatives might be forgiven if they were taken in by George W. Bush’s seemingly more realist foreign policy views expressed during the 2000 campaign, but they have no excuse for pretending that Romney’s foreign policy would not be just as misguided, imprudent, and harmful to U.S. interests as Bush’s was.

If there is one set of policy views that has remained consistent throughout his national political career, it has been his devotion to a hard-line, nationalist, and heavily militarized foreign policy. As obnoxious as Obama’s foreign policy has been in many instances, there has never been any question in my mind that Romney’s is clearly far worse as far as antiwar conservatives and libertarians are concerned. Not only are his foreign policy views substantively worse and obviously ill-informed, but Romney’s success in the election would vindicate the decision to embrace Bush-era foreign policy. Winning the election would reward Romney for campaigning on an aggressive foreign policy platform built on falsehoods. Not only would that put Romney and his advisers in charge of conducting U.S. foreign policy for the next four years, but it would make it that much more difficult to promote a sane conservative foreign policy dedicated to securing American interests.

As if this were not enough, Romney is worse than Bush in another important way that goes beyond any specific policies. Because he can never be entirely sure of his support from movement conservatives, he frequently indulges them in their fantasies. Much of the bad news for Romney over the last week was the product of Romney’s willingness to endorse nonsense that many movement conservatives had accepted as truth. Whether he “really” believes any of it is irrelevant. He has no inclination to challenge movement conservatives when they are wrong, nor does he have the political courage that would be needed to lead them away from fantasies even if he were so inclined. Because so many movement conservatives either remain wedded to Bushism or refuse to face up to its failures, a Romney administration would represent the return to most of what went wrong with the right during the Bush years.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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