The president’s foreign policy has one signal achievement: the bringing of Osama bin Laden to justice. By failing to negotiate an agreement to keep a residual force in Iraq and by advertising his intention, nay desperation, to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible, he has, however, weakened our leverage in both places. He refused to support protesters in Iran in 2009 and opposed, when they were moving through Congress, the sanctions against Iran that he now brags about. His pledge to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon lacks credibility. The distrust Obama has engendered among Israelis is well known; also worth recalling is that his obsession with Israeli settlements ended up weakening Palestinian reformers by forcing them to insist on concessions that were never going to happen. Allies in central Europe have been alienated, indeed treated with ignorant and insulting condescension. The opportunity to build on the Clinton-Bush policy of encouraging friendship with India has been ignored. The defense budget has been treated cavalierly, as a bargaining chip in domestic politics rather than a crucial element of our global strategy.
As the weeks have gone by since the murder of Americans, including our ambassador, in Benghazi, Obama’s response to this outrage has come to seem more and more like a symbol and consequence of more general failings: his naïveté about Islamists; his conviction that the world’s esteem for him would transform global politics; his inordinate emphasis on media management; his petulance in the face of criticism. When we suffer a setback in the War on Terror, the president should level with us about what has happened. That honesty is impossible when the president’s conceit is that the war is part of a past he is transcending.
Obama has not so much failed to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution as he has tried to subvert it. When Congress has failed to go along with his liberal policy preferences on immigration, welfare, or health care, he has imposed them by fiat. He has committed to naming judges who will not allow state legislatures to protect unborn life, an extreme policy found nowhere in the Constitution. His well-advertised “evolution” on marriage is likely to result, if he wins a second term, in a federal attack on the laws of most states. He has attacked religious liberty by requiring nearly all employers to provide coverage for things, such as abortion drugs, that many of them abhor; and has provided next to no explanation of how he could possibly have the legal authority to do such a thing.
Mitt Romney’s record, to put it gently, has not always been that of a National Review conservative. The more we have learned about the health-care plan he got enacted in Massachusetts, the less wise we consider it. During his campaign he has too often been unimaginative or vague on health care, federal spending, and taxes. Yet he has also stood, riskily, for a necessary reform of entitlements. He has vowed to be a reliable ally of pro-lifers and judicial conservatives. Without indicating any desire to go to war with Iran, he has treated its nuclear ambitions, and the increased power their realization would gain it, with an appropriate alarm (and we trust Tehran would read his election as a negative development). He has made it clear that in cutting spending he would be mindful that the national defense is the federal government’s foremost responsibility. In choosing Paul Ryan as his prospective vice president he has shown far better judgment than Obama, whose own pick weekly demonstrates that the categories of buffoon and demagogue are not mutually exclusive.
In this election we are proud to stand with Mitt Romney over the vain collectivist in the White House, and we hope the voters will make the same decision.