That Old Swagger

I don’t profess to completely understand why Team Mitt is spending so much time bashing Obama on foreign policy at the moment, beyond a simple opportunistic desire to piggy-back off media attention to the turbulent events in the Middle East. I know of no significant swing constituency that’s likely to wheel into Romney’s direction on grounds that the incumbent is insufficiently attentive to Bibi Netanyahu’s desires, or that the administration did not anticipate the attacks in Benghazi.

But I think the perils associated with Romney’s efforts to get to the right of Obama on foreign policy have been a bit underappreciated. This brief passage from Scott Wilson’s WaPo take on the different approaches of the two campaigns to “American exceptionalism” shows the unsavory associations Romney is courting:

“It’s very clear in reading and hearing what the two candidates have to say that, at least rhetorically, there would be a significant change under President Romney,” said Karl F. Inderfurth, an assistant secretary of state in the Bill Clinton administration who is now a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Inderfurth, who is not working with either campaign, said some of the “swagger” of the George W. Bush administration would return to U.S. foreign policy under Romney.

Yeah, a return to W.’s “swagger” is just what Americans undoubtedly think we need at a time when, for example, the war with Iran Romney seems to be lusting for would not only destabilize the world’s most volatile region and create a quagmire the likes of which we’ve never seem, but would blow up the very energy prices that GOPers seem to consider the alpha and omega of domestic policy.

If anyone reading this has managed to forget what Bush’s “swagger” was like, or what it could mean if revived, it’s a good time to subscribe to the Washington Monthly and get a free copy of the new ebook, Elephant In the Room: Washington in the Bush Years.

The main difference between the Romney and Bush domestic agendas is that the former is significantly more radical. On foreign policy, it sounds alarmingly identical.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.