Fred Hiatt's column in the Washington Post today charts out some startling similarities between leftie pinup model Barack Obama and the right's black sheep, Mitt Romney. More disturbingly perhaps, both candidates articulate foreign policy agendas that are not so different from Bush's, which has, hello!, proven to be about as unsuccessful as a foreign policy could be.
• Obama talks a big line about withdrawal from Iraq, but his policy paper paints a different picture, calling for leaving enough troops there "to protect American personnel and facilities, continue training Iraqi security forces, and root out al Qaeda." Even the troops we have there now aren't up to these tasks. (Romney, like the rest of the Republicans, is stumbling all over himself to say neither "bring them home" nor "stay the course.")
• Both Romney and Obama want to expand the armed forces and to continue in the "We rule the world" vein that has earned the United States intense foreign animosity since 2000. "We are a unique nation, and there is no substitute for our leadership," says Romney. Right on, says Obama: "We can be this America again. . . . [A]n America that battles immediate evils, promotes an ultimate good, and leads the world once more.'"
• Both are jumping on the terrorism bandwagon. Calling it the biggest threat to the United States might be true, at least in the post-Iraq world, but should candidates be promising another Cold War? (I was pretty young at the time, but I don't remember fears of nuclear war being much fun.) Romney says "the jihadist threat is the defining challenge of our generation," comparing it to Nazi Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union, and he promises a powerful response. Obama agrees: "To defeat al Qaeda, I will build a twenty-first-century military and twenty-first-century partnerships as strong as the anticommunist alliance that won the Cold War to stay on the offense everywhere from Djibouti to Kandahar."
Despite my personal disgust for Romney based on his frantic attempts to out anti-gay the Christian right, it may be better to share common ground with him than with, say, Rudy Giuliani. But similarities with the Bush agenda are a serious red flag in my book. Obama-ites: Care to defend your candidate in the comments section?