For months, one of Mitt Romney's standard attack lines is to accuse President Obama of being some kind of overly-ambitious Europhile. "The president's put on us on path to Europe," Romney has said, adding, "His idea is to make America more like Europe."
It's odd for a leading U.S. politician to condemn our closest allies so casually and frequently, and as it turns out, it's not a message Romney prefers to share when he's face-to-face with Europeans.
On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney mocks it as "a social welfare state" and an "entitlement nation." He rails that it smothers entrepreneurs and innovators. And he says it is simply not working.
The target of Mr. Romney's dismissiveness: Europe. And he warns ominously that if the United States is not careful, the country may end up just like it.
But as he wrapped up his seven-day trip here, which began in London last week and ended on Tuesday in Warsaw, a more nuanced view of Europe emerged: there is also the Europe symbolized by Poland, where "a march toward economic liberty and smaller government has meant a march toward higher living standards," in contrast with the Europe he often derides on the campaign trail.
Hmm. If Obama wants to bring affordable health care coverage to uninsured Americans, in a plan modeled after Romney's state-based law, the president is trying to "make America more like Europe." But if Romney actually goes to Europe and holds out a European economy as a model, that's fine?
For that matter, Romney may not understand that he's praising an economy with a large central government that provides free college education and free health care to all its citizens (which came a day after Romney also praised Israel's socialized health care system).