Mitt Romney Has Plenty of GOP Baggage

Presidential Vote Is About More Than One Person

Behind Mitt’s Curtain: The election’s about a whole lot more than Mitt Romney. There’s the Supreme Court and a whole administration on the line.
getty images
Behind Mitt’s Curtain: The election’s about a whole lot more than Mitt Romney. There’s the Supreme Court and a whole administration on the line.

By J.J. Goldberg

Published October 12, 2012, issue of October 19, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

It wasn’t until Barack Obama became president that Washington was able to forge a broad-based international anti-Iran coalition. Obama played out negotiations that exposed Iran’s intransigence and thus united most of the world behind crippling sanctions. The current Republican team talks, incredibly, about going back to the Bush plan.

A great deal has been written about the derangement of the modern Republican Party, with its toxic mix of legislative obstructionism, anti-tax and anti-regulation economics, religious-right social policies and blustering foreign policy. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these were really separate threads that emerged at different times and came into full expression only during the Obama presidency. They needn’t necessarily survive intact in a new GOP administration. But they might.

Current Republican economics is a legacy of the Reagan administration. Before Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981, presidents going back to Teddy Roosevelt understood that capitalism is fundamentally amoral and needs to be regulated. Unchecked, business excess leads to vast human misery. A steady accretion of progressive taxation, labor protection, strong regulation and basic social insurance led to decades of smooth growth and widespread prosperity.

Reagan famously preached that government itself was the problem. Over eight years he cut the top tax rate from 70% to 28% and greatly reduced regulation to free up business. The result: three decades of steadily mounting government debt, spiraling inequality and an increasingly unstable business cycle.

There was a cynical aspect to the strategy. The best way to prove that government was bad was to govern badly. By gutting business regulations and then appointing pro-business officials to do the regulating, the idea that government could improve the average citizen’s life was discredited.

In reality, reducing government was only a slogan. Alongside reduced business regulation, the Reagan revolution tried to expand government intrusion in private lives. The goal was to get government out of the marketplace and into the bedroom.

And yet that, too, was mostly talk. The religious right enjoyed its strongest growth not under Republican presidents but when Democrats Bill Clinton and Obama occupied the White House. In opposition, paranoid extremism became the GOP calling card. In office, Republican presidents kept the religious right on a leash.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.