But now that the campaign is over and you're staring at a second Obama term, the falsity of the propaganda may come as a relief. And by and large, Obama's instincts and policies are those of a moderate Republican. He stands where the GOP used to stand and will someday stand again.
Yes, Obama began his presidency with bailouts and stimulus. You know who started the bailouts? George W. Bush. Bush knew that under these dire circumstances, bailouts were necessary. Stimulus was necessary, too, since the economy had frozen up. And a third of the stimulus was tax cuts.
Once the economy began to revive, Obama offered a $4 trillion debt reduction framework that would have cut $3 to $6 of spending for every $1 in tax hikes. That's a higher ratio of cuts to hikes than Republican voters said they preferred in a Gallup poll. And it's far higher than the ratio George H.W. Bush accepted in 1990.
In last year's debt-ceiling talks, Obama offered cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in exchange for new revenue. Now he's proposing to lower corporate taxes, and Republicans are whining that he hacked $716 billion from Medicare. Some socialist.
Yes, Obama imposed a mandate to buy health insurance. You know who else did? Romney. You know where the idea came from? The Heritage Foundation. Giving people the responsibility to carry insurance, so we don't have to bail them out through emergency rooms, was a Republican idea.
Same with Wall Street reform: There's nothing conservative about letting financial institutions gamble with other people's money in ways that would force us to bail them out again.
Even Obama's cap-and-trade proposal to address climate change echoed the market-based emission-control policies of the first Bush administration and John McCain's campaign. Last year, when the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new air-pollution limit, Obama ticked off environmentalists by killing it on grounds that it might jeopardize the recovery.
Remember how Democrats ridiculed George W. Bush's troop surge in Iraq? Obama copied it in Afghanistan. He escalated the drone program, killing off al-Qaeda leaders. He sent SEALs into Pakistan to get Osama bin Laden. He teamed up with NATO to take down Moammar Gadhafi. He reneged on his pledge to close Guantánamo. He pushed sanctions that are bringing Iran's economy to its knees.
That's why Romney had nothing to say in the foreign policy debate: No sensible Republican president would have done things differently.
Obama's no right-winger. You might have serious issues with his Supreme Court justices or his immigration stance. But you probably would have had similar issues with Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, or Gerald Ford.
So don't despair. Your country didn't vote for a socialist. It voted for the candidate of traditional Republican moderation. What should gall you is, that candidate wasn't yours.
William Saletan writes for Slate.