I am a big fan of Clint Eastwood. After his appearance at the Republican convention, I imagined what he might do addressing Mitt Romney with an empty chair at the Democratic gathering. While Lloyd Bentsen would say I am no Clint Eastwood, here goes:
Glancing at the chair, I begin: Gov. Romney, remembering the jobless rate four years ago, in November 2008 -- Americans lost more than 500,000 jobs that month.
Even worse, in the weeks before President Obama was inaugurated, America lost another 700,000 jobs. Governor, you believe Americans were better off four years ago with that? You promise that if you are elected, your policies would destroy 500,000 jobs, or 700,000 jobs, as happened during the Bush crash that you claim were better days?
I understand, Governor. You believe a politician should say anything to get elected. But you can bet your Swiss bank accounts we are better off than we were four years ago. I've got an idea:
Why don't you follow the wonderful example of your father, who believed voters have a right to know about their leaders, and release your tax returns from 2008? Then we can see the tax losses you claimed during the Bush recession that you believe were better times four years ago.
I get it. Your father was wrong. Voters can do something to themselves with their right to know.
Facing the empty chair, I try again, speaking of politicians saying whatever it takes to get elected: Governor, do you remember four years ago when the American auto industry was on life support, auto plants were closing, jobs were being destroyed by the hour and states such as Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin feared that Made in America auto industry jobs could be lost forever?
Governor, you believe we were better off then? Really? When President Obama offered a bold plan that brought workers and management together to save these Made in America jobs in autos and steel, a plan your father would have supported, you opposed it for political reasons. Then you tried to claim credit for it. Really? Well, you can bet your Cayman Island accounts those jobs came back, and those workers are better off than they were four years ago.
I try again: Governor, thinking of things you forgot, you forgot to mention our troops in Afghanistan during your convention speech. You forgot to mention that you said you would never have ordered the attack against bin Laden in Pakistan. I understand. You can't admit you were so wrong and the president so right, as Adm. McRaven says. You can't thank the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden and Holly Petraeus for all they do for military families. You can't give credit to Elizabeth Warren for defending military families against financial crimes.
Make my day, Mitt Romney. America is a damn sight better with Osama bin Laden dead in 2012 instead of planning more attacks against America, as he was four years ago.
Finally, I ask: Governor, do you remember the Wall Street Journal story four years ago this month saying, "America faces the worst economic crisis since the 1930s with no end in sight"? Banks were closing. Jobs were collapsing. The economy was crashing. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were destroyed every month. Another Great Depression was possible.
President Obama took office. He ended the crash. The corner was turned. The recovery began. Job creation resumed. Osama bin Laden is dead. The auto industry thrives. Hurting children have better health care. Our lungs are a little more protected from pollution -- and that's no joke.
Much more work needs to be done, but you can bet your friend's Macau casino cash that we are better off today than we were four years ago.
And your plan is to bring back your better days of September 2008?
Make ... my ... day, Mitt Romney.
A version of this column was originally published at The Hill.