Jonathan Chait has a good article this morning about how Romney’s entire campaign is based upon a lie. He starts by noting that Obama’s campaign is not exactly snow white: his attacks on outsourcing as simplistic and perhaps even misleading. I would add that they are somewhat hypocritical, because Obama basically agrees with Romney on this issue. (Reason number 5382 to not like Obama.) But Romney’s campaign is based on making this election a referendum on the economy and Obama’s handling of it.
Chait shows that in 2004, Romney argued that Bush should not be held accountable for the bad economy. If it is true that Bush was not responsible for the bad economy then—Chait believes he was not—then Obama is even less responsible for the current economy. I would argue that Bush was responsible for the economy (at least to some degree) because he was able to get his policies passed; Obama has been stymied—especially during the last two years.
We know that Obama at least disagrees with Romney’s idea of what should be done about the economy. Romney’s whole argument is that the voters should judge the President entirely responsible for the economy—and that’s all. And we know that isn’t what Romney really believes.
What I find most interesting is how the entire Republican chattering class is whining about all of Obama’s attacks on Romney. They are in effect saying, “Obama should only talk inside our frame for the campaign!” Susan Del Percio is an excellent example of this, “This campaign is a referendum on the economy!” Really?! This reminds me of those who said all through the 2008 campaign that the central issue of that campaign should be Jeremiah Wright.
The difference is that in 2008, it was only those on the fringe who publicly complained that if Obama wasn’t talking about what McCain wanted to talk about, Obama was being unfair. In 2012, it is the whole Republican establishment that is saying this.