Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was an exercise in wish-fulfillment. The junior senator from Illinois who wowed Democrats at their convention in 2004 did not make a conventional run for the White House. As Virginia Postrel noted in Reason’s November 2008 issue, “Barack Obama has not run as the typical candidate, selling specific policies, a worldview, experience, or executive competence. He has instead sold himself, a glamorous icon onto whom supporters project their hopes and dreams and, in many cases, their own identities.” What many political observers referred to as charisma, Postrel identified as glamour. The last three years have supported her interpretation; a charismatic president can stir people to follow him, a glamorous one faces difficulty every time the spell is broken. Nevertheless, as we approach the 2012 election, some of Barack Obama’s supporters continue to attribute political positions to him that he just doesn’t hold. Here are four.
4. Barack Obama’s foreign policy is not as destructive as George W. Bush's was (or Mitt Romney's would be).
During his 2008 campaign, Barack Obama leveraged his outspoken opposition to the Iraq War (while in the Illinois State Senate) to appeal to anti-war voters. To hear Mitt Romney tell it, Obama’s foreign policy hasn’t been sufficiently militaristic. This while a list of presidential accomplishments recently released by a Democratic group is riddled with the people killed while Obama has been commander in chief. Even as Joe Biden is calling Mitt Romney’s foreign policy weak, and mocking the sensible sounding idea of “subcontract[ing] our foreign policy to some expert at the State Department” (as opposed to the CIA or DoD, Joe?), the left continues to portray Romney as being more neo-conservative than Obama, the very president that neo-con leader Bill Kristol has claimed as one of his own. The truth is Romney would probably fit right in with Obama’s cabinet when it comes to making foreign policy decisions, and Obama’s foreign policy itself is a natural extension of President George W. Bush’s.