Running on Empty: The Cliché Candidacy of Barack Obama
Can the president's "fair share" rhetoric sell in 2012?
April 16, 2012 - 12:03 am
There is increasing evidence that the only theme on which Obama plans to run his campaign this time is that the rich are not taxed enough and that if they were, everything would be just grand and all the vital “investments” (translation — increased federal spending) needed over the next ten years would be paid for. The corollary is that Mitt Romney is very rich and needs to pay a lot more in taxes.
There may never have been a presidential campaign so chock-full of poll-tested clichés as Obama’s. A Gallup poll shows that the “Buffet rule,” which would raise about 1/300th of the annual Obama deficit, is so far a crowd-pleaser. But is it enough to get voters to cast a ballot in November for the president, or will the unemployment rate, gas prices, the deficit, and ObamaCare matter a lot more?
The president’s aides have already walked back Obama’s absurd statement that the Buffet rule would be enough to “stabilize our debt and deficits over the next ten years.” There may be a reason we have never seen the president’s transcripts or SAT scores. Did he score poorly in math? Many Democrats and liberal pundits have admitted that the upcoming vote in the Senate on the Buffet rule this week is a “gimmick” to win one day’s new cycle and get some vulnerable Republicans on the record opposing it.
We can also expect to see and hear more of all the following poll-tested gestures or comments over the next seven months:
- Obama running up the stairs to speak to a crowd with his sleeves rolled up. (It’s good to know he is rolling up his sleeves to solve America’s problems.)
- “This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class.” (If we adopt the Buffet rule, it’s a good bet it will be a “make” moment).
- “Everyone needs to pay their fair share.” (Everyone except for the half of all Americans who do not pay any income tax and will not be asked to by the president.)
- “The rich need to pay their fare share.” (Presumably 10% of taxpayers paying 70% of all income taxes, greater than their share of income, is not a fair share and needs to be substantially higher.)
- “Corporations need to play by the rules.” (Of course, we presumably need more of them.)
- “All Americans should get a fair shot.” (At what exactly is unclear — opportunity to succeed, or an opportunity to share in the fruits of the labor of others? What is Obama’s plan for those who get a “fair” chance to compete, and fail? )
- “We need to build an economy that can last.” (All countries have economies that “last,” even Greece. The test is whether the economy is growing, and if so, whether that rate of growth is sufficient. Is Obama concerned about growth — the size of the pie — or only about how a pie of whatever size is distributed?)
The Obama approval numbers, other than for a post-Bin Laden bump, have stayed in a narrow range for over two years. There is nothing the president is saying now that he has not said many times over. Many Americans appear to have tuned him out. The Obama campaign brain trust may have concluded that the only path to victory is by pandering to a collection of ethnic groups and interests. Hence, the class warfare theme to activate the left-wing base, the offhand comments about the Trayvon Martin case to show blacks he is with them, the lawsuits against Arizona to please Hispanic voters, and the delay in the Keystone pipeline to keep the environmental lobby and contributors happy.
The broad post-racial, no-blue-state, no-red-state jargon is history. Now it will be constant attack (against those who have been the “winners” in America and are not paying their fare share) and consolidating the various Democratic base groups. If Mitt Romney, and others like him, would just pay more in taxes, would America then have an economy built to last? Would the middle class then have their “make” moment?
Can this babble sell in America in 2012 ?