Romney’s Closing Argument

The president told a real whopper on Tuesday night at the second presidential debate.  When responding to one of the supposedly undecided voters who asked him a question, Obama said, “The commitments I have made, I have kept.”

As those words left his mouth, I nearly self-immolated in my living room.

It is one thing to make the argument, as the president did, that change was harder than we thought, and that he had a big mess to clean up which is taking a long time.  But to sit there and seriously suggest that the commitments he made in 2008 bear any resemblance to where the country stands in 2012 is preposterous, and incompatible with reality.

Romney has been searching for his own version of “are you better off now than you were four years ago?” for some time now.  Moments like that are nearly impossible to replicate, because every election is different, and crystallizing those differences into an easily digestible question the voters can ask  themselves is not easy.

But with the president uttering that one statement so incredibly disconnected from the world we currently inhabit, might I suggest Romney’s closing argument?  Goes a little something like this:

What if?

What if in 2008, President Obama had promised you that he would double the budget deficit, rather than halve it?

What if in 2008, President Obama had promised you he would increase the national debt to beyond $16 trillion?

What if in 2008, President Obama had promised to spend two years pushing through a healthcare bill that continued to inflate costs while legally requiring you to purchase insurance under threat of penalty?

What if he promised you he would choose to pass that bill by relying on his own party’s supermajority, ignoring the minority and passing that bill along partisan lines, all the while completely ignoring the jobs crisis in this country?

What if in 2008, President Obama had promised you that, partly as a result of that choice, his administration would be among the most bitterly partisan and rancorous in American history, rather than an exercise in political healing and bipartisanship?

What if in 2008, President Obama had promised that his economic plan would keep unemployment above 8% for 43 consecutive months, only dropping below that number when enough people stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed?

What if in 2008, President Obama had promised to be less transparent than his predecessor?

What if in 2008, President Obama had promised you to keep Guantanamo Bay open?

What if in 2008, President Obama had promised you that he would talk a great game about America’s immigration crisis, but would completely ignore comprehensive immigration reform?

What if in 2008, President Obama had promised you that his justice department would sell weapons to Mexican drug lords, would lose control of those weapons, and then see those weapons used against American law enforcement?

What if in 2008, President Obama had promised you that he would surge our military presence in Afghanistan, more than quadrupling the American death toll by his second year in office?

What if in 2008, President Obama had promised you that he would set up a secret “kill list” of extrajudicial killings of American citizens?

What if in 2008, President Obama had promised you that he would prosecute a war in Libya without Congressional approval?

If this had been what President Obama had promised you his first term would look like, would you have voted for him?  Because it is the first term you got.

Each one of these statements represents the truth of President Obama’s record, and each one of these statements stands in direct conflict with the promises he made while he was running for president in 2008.

Yes, Obama has kept some of his promises.  But these were the big ones, and they were not only unkept, they were ignored and contradicted for whatever purpose the president deemed necessary.

Why then, I wonder, would anyone take the promises for his second term seriously, or have any faith in what he might accomplish?  How then, I wonder, can anyone maintain a straight face as President Obama says, “The commitments I have made, I have kept”?

And while we are on the subject, let me ask a “what if” question of my own.  What if liberals held the current president to the same standards, particularly on war and peace, civil liberties, and debt, that they held the previous president of the opposite party to?

What if, indeed.

Matthew Gagnon

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. Originally from Hampden, he has been involved with Maine politics for more than a decade.