The president says his rival wants to take America "back to the future" -- and Romney doesn't disagree.
The Obama campaign would have you believe that a Mitt Romney presidency would be a step backward in time -- a trip "back to the future," as numerous Obama surrogates have recently put it.
It was the descriptor Vice President Biden used for Romney's foreign policy in a speech in New York on Thursday: "Americans know we can't go back to the future, back to a foreign policy that would have America go it alone," he said. The previous evening, Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, and chief strategist, David Axelrod, used the phrase repeatedly in characterizing Romney's economic vision in a conference call with reporters: "Mitt Romney wants to go back to the future," Messina said, to a set of policies that "benefited the few but crashed our economy." Clearly, the president's team believes the title of Steven Spielberg's 1985 time-travel hit is an effective catchphrase with which to tag his opponent.
The thing is, Romney doesn't necessarily disagree.
Returning to the past is a major theme of Romney's stump speech, in which he bemoans Obama's radical impulse to "transform America" and proposes, instead, that America be "restored." In one typical formulation, delivered in Wisconsin on March 30, he put it thus: "Candidate Barack Obama pledged that he wanted to 'transform this nation.' And, unfortunately, that is exactly what he has been doing. ... I don't want to transform America; I want to restore the values of economic freedom, opportunity, and small government that have made this nation the leader it is." The name of Romney's Super PAC, Restore Our Future, has been mocked as nonsensical, but it makes sense to me: We used to have a future, it says, but that hope has been snatched away from us, and we need new, more careful leadership to restore it.