This was always a bizarre liberal hallucination. Government grew massively under President Bush. He was a bigger spender than any previous president going back to Lyndon Johnson. He massively expanded entitlements, grew food stamp enrollment (almost as much as Obama) and nearly doubled "investments" in education. He created a new Cabinet agency -- Homeland Security -- and signed into law sweeping new regulations, like No Child Left Behind, Sarbanes-Oxley and McCain-Feingold.
This, according to Democrats, amounts to telling Americans "you're on your own."
But even now, the Bush-Cheney years are being rehabilitated by comparison to the dark fantasies of what a Romney-Ryan administration might deliver.
The idea that Romney is a cut-government-to-the-bone minarchist is based on a mix of unsubstantiated assertion, wild fantasy and guilt by association; you see, even if there's no evidence that Romney's a libertarian, he's been captured by the heartless Tea Party types. Why, just look: He picked Paul Ryan, patron saint of the barbarian hordes, as his running mate.
It is a sign of what an unmitigated mess we are in as a country when Ryan is considered a heartless right-winger who wants to set old people adrift.
The famously heartless Ryan plan (moot now that he's hitched his wagon to Romney's) that supposedly slashes the budget doesn't reach a projected balance until the year 2040 and increases spending over the next decade.
Ironically, it was Bill Clinton who mocked Republicans last week for conjuring an "alternative universe" where Americans are self-reliant individualists. The real truth is that Democrats rely on fantasy worlds -- including a past that never was -- in order to make walking in circles seem like progress.