He concludes that what Republicans are really talking about is:
The image most people have in their heads of Europe is dominated by non-policy aspects of the landscape—Europe has more old building, older urban forms, and it's more crowded—and the proclivity to praise or criticize Europe seems to me to be explained entirely by the nationalism/cosmpolitanism gap rather than any objective analysis of the European policy environment.That could be right; as such, it's rather similar to bashing New York, which I once heard actually is home to one or two of the capitalists that Republicans often like.
Which means it also goes along with the odd Republican habit of place-bashing, whether it's coastal elites, or New York for all sorts of things, or San Francisco liberals, or Chicago-style politicians. Note that Newt Gingrich has been calling Mitt Romney a "Massachusetts moderate." I've always thought this is rather strange, not to mention unpatriotic; I've certainly heard liberals smear places that vote Republican, but it's a whole lot more common (for liberals) in comments sections or at fringe blogs (or, obviously, in conversation) than it is for actual politicians to say things like that. So in that context, saying that Obama wants a "European-style entitlement society" is almost a step up -- he's neither bashing a US city nor actually using the word "socialism."
As symbolism, the Europe-bashing works, I think, about the same way that socialism-bashing does: it's just a content-free slur that leaves Fox News customers free to fill in whatever horrors they want. It makes about as much sense as Michele Bachmann's fear of the socialist conspiracy to replace Medicare with Obamacare. So yes, I think Yglesias is right about the "cosmopolitan" thing for some people, but presumably others see other things in it.
And: nice catch!