This is part of the president’s attempt to turn 2012 into a replay of 2008. In Obama’s absurd telling, every Republican president prior to George W. Bush would have been comfortable with the economic agenda of the contemporary Democratic Party. Lincoln backed the transcontinental railroad, so obviously he would have supported a $4 trillion government, most of which is spent on checks for old people. Eisenhower proposed the Interstate Highway System to maneuver troops, civilians, and missiles in case World War III broke out, which naturally suggests he would have supported stimulus bills that pay off public sector and construction unions and finance alternative energy moguls who donate to Democratic campaigns.
In his Cleveland speech, Obama preposterously invoked the memory of Nixon—Richard Nixon—because the second-most reviled Republican in modern memory “created the Environmental Protection Agency.” Ronald Reagan? Forget supply-side economics and the Strategic Defense Initiative and the 1986 tax reform and Iran-contra. “He worked with Democrats to save Social Security,” and “raised taxes to help pay down an exploding deficit.” All is forgiven.
Obama writes these fictional historical portraits not to pay tribute to his antecedents, but to explain, in a self-serving way, his lack of executive achievements. The economy is suffering and the deficit is hemorrhaging, he suggests, only because today’s GOP is so radical and unreasonable. (This is the same party, incidentally, that won 51 percent of the national House vote in the most recent election.)