From the intelligent Bret Stephens, who used to work for the Jerusalem Post and now works for the Wall Street Journal:
Updated October 15, 2012, 11:42 p.m. ET
To the Wavering Voter
Mitt Romney won't make war on women, the Middle East or the middle class.
• By BRET STEPHENS
Dear Wavering Voter:
No, abortion rights and access to contraception will not be jeopardized if
Mitt Romney becomes president. Not remotely, not vaguely, not even close. No
woman in America, including Sandra Fluke, will have war made upon her by a
Maybe you think the job of a president is to be our DJ-in-Chief and set the
mood music for the country. In that case, the slow-jam Obama administration
has everything to recommend it, while a Romney presidency may get on your
nerves like a hokey country song. But it won't get in your way.
How am I so sure? It's not a question of Mr. Romney's sincerity on social
issues. It's the fact that since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land
almost 40 years ago, Republican presidents have named seven justices to the
Supreme Court, while Democratic presidents have named only four. Guess
what? Roe v. Wade is and will remain the law of the land.
No, we will not have another war in the Middle East. Not even if President
Romney orders Iran's nuclear sites bombed to smithereens.
Remember "Operation Desert Fox"? Probably not. That was a four-day, full-on
bombing campaign against Iraq ordered by Bill Clinton in December 1998, on
the eve of his impeachment. The ostensible purpose of the campaign was to
degrade Saddam's WMD capabilities, which then-Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright called "the threat of the 21st century."
It must have worked beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Air strikes may be acts
of war, but not the kind of war President Obama is warning will be our lot
if Republicans are elected. Incidentally, Mr. Obama also says "all options
are on the table" when it comes to Iran. If he isn't serious about keeping a
nuclear weapon out of the hands of the ayatollahs by any means necessary, he
should come out and say so.
No, America will not once again become the global pariah it supposedly was
under George W. Bush if Mr. Romney is elected.
That's because, as we've lately discovered, we never ceased being a pariah
in places like Cairo and Karachi. The Pew Research Center finds that
positive attitudes toward the U.S. are broadly lower today throughout the
Middle East than they were in the last year of Mr. Bush's presidency. True,
Mr. Obama has made America somewhat more popular again in Europe, so you can
visit Paris again without fear of a political harangue at Les Deux Magots
But there's a rub: Fewer people can afford the trip. Travel by U.S. citizens
to Europe has declined every year of the Obama presidency. We'll always have
Paris, dear—we just can't afford to go there this year.
No, your taxes will not go up by a couple of grand. They especially won't go
up "to pay for huge new tax breaks for millionaires," as the Obama campaign
The $2,000 figure is based on a study by an outfit called the Tax Policy
Center. Of the study itself, Don Marron, the center's president, concedes:
"I don't interpret this as evidence that Governor Romney wants to increase
taxes on the middle class in order to cut taxes for the rich. Instead, I
view it as showing that his plan can't accomplish all his stated
Discerning readers may note that there's a difference between saying a tax
plan isn't going to achieve everything it sets out to do and claiming it
will jack up your taxes. As for the $5 trillion tax cut the Obama campaign
insists Mr. Romney is offering, Obama campaign spokesperson Stephanie Cutter
admitted on CNN that "it won't be near $5 trillion" once deductions and
loopholes are closed.
It would be nice if the Romney campaign showed a more Reaganesque zeal for
tax cutting. It doesn't. In the meantime, the questions raised by the Obama
campaign are: How stupid does it think the electorate is? And how stupid are
No, your grandmother will not be thrown off a cliff.
Then again, she might just be if you think that we can retire 76 million
baby boomers over the next 18 years without adjusting to a world of longer
lifespans and potentially lower trend growth.
This is the ugly reality unfolding at stunning speed throughout Europe
today, and it could soon be our future, too. Depending on how you count (and
on what happens with ObamaCare), Medicare will go broke sometime in the next
four to 12 years. Ask yourself how old you'll be in 2024: If you think
you'll probably be dead by then, you can relax. Otherwise your choice is to
reform the programs, or watch them explode.
"Lawmakers should not delay addressing the long-run financial challenges
facing Social Security and Medicare. If they take action sooner rather than
later, more options and more time will be available to phase in changes so
that the public has adequate time to prepare." That's from the 2012 annual
report of the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees, not some hack
Yes, the rich will probably get richer.
And if you're eaten alive by the thought that someone, somewhere, is doing
better than you, then you surely know how to vote.
But then, what is this election about? If you're a wavering voter, it might
be worth asking yourself what matters to you more: bringing yourself up, or
bringing millionaires and billionaires down?
Write to email@example.com
A version of this article appeared October 16, 2012, on page A15 in the U.S.
edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: To the Wavering
Voter. Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved