About a year ago, with his campaign already in full swing, Mitt Romney condemned President Obama for "one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history." It was an odd thing for a presidential candidate to say -- there's been no spending binge and this isn't "peacetime."
I thought of this when Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) made a very similar comment to MSNBC's Chuck Todd (via Jed Lewison).
For those who can't watch clips online, Daniels argued:
"Well, you know, he's been the president of this nation for the three years in which we have drifted ever closer to the biggest peacetime crisis we may have ever faced. There's no doubt it. It's a mathematical certainty.... To me the central question of this election is why such an administration deserves a second chance."
The "crisis" Daniels is referring to is the national debt. It's quite a conversion for the Republican -- as the budget director for the Bush/Cheney administration, Mitch Daniels had no concerns whatsoever about adding the cost of massive tax breaks to the national debt, as well as the cost of two wars. Indeed, whether Daniels understands this or not, the national debt keeps "drifting" to new depths because of the policies he endorsed at Bush's OMB.
Watching his interview is a bit like getting a lecture on fire safety from an arsonist.
But there's also that reference to "peacetime" that rankles. Republicans may occasionally forget that we're a nation at war -- I have a terrific book recommendation for Mitch Daniels -- but this isn't "peacetime."
We're still fighting a war in Afghanistan; we just ended a war in Iraq; and we've engaged in military actions in a variety of theaters, including Libya and Yemen. On top of this, we're recovering from the most serious global economic crisis since the Great Depression. These are, in other words, exactly the kind of conditions that require a nation to go into debt.
Does Daniels not understand this? Is he really so eager to take cheap election-year shots that he's lost sight of the basic details of the larger debate?