President of the Impossibly Bad Government
I see things like this Ronald Reagan animated gif on conservative Tumblr blogs all the time and Mitt Romney said something like it the other night during the debate. As I was live-blogging, I took a moment to reflect on how weird it seemed to me:
“In the midst of the health care discussion, Romney argues that the market does better at everything than the government does at anything. Remember that he wants to be the president of the government.”
I understand the theoretical argument here: “The government is bad and, if elected, I will make it as small and ineffective as possible in order to minimize the badness.”
But I have two related issues with it:
1. Romney doesn’t actually believe this. He thinks the government is excellent at some things, like helping our friends and intimidating and fighting our enemies. He wants the government to be as small as possible … but he wants the military and aid to Israel to be as large as possible. To do this — and to ensure a balanced budget (the idea of which he loves) — he’s going to need to cut some programs. But these are the programs that he thinks the government does badly, like education and health care and public broadcasting.
Which leads to:
2. Now that Romney has decided that he wants to be president of 100% of the country, rather than just 53% of it, I’m curious about how his rhetorical strategy will change (again). I ask this because there’s a sizable percentage of the country that disagrees with him about the government being either completely ineffective or outright nefarious when it comes to the programs that he wants to cut. How will Romney explain why the government is good at some things — like aiding Israel or intimidating rogue leaders with our impressive weaponry — but bad at other things, like Medicare or public schools?
Because, really, it just sounds like “I like the things I like and I don’t like the things you like. As president, I’ll make sure we do all the things I like and none of the things you like.”