Stanley Kurtz does a remarkable job of explaining why, when he had the chance to discuss big themes and go for the center that supported him four years ago, Barack Obama has gone for the small, divisive and trivial in 2012. Binders, Big Bird, “bullsh***er,” etc. This is not the Obama campaign of four years ago, which cloaked its leftist intentions in “hope and change.”
We heard a lot about a left-leaning electoral realignment in 2008. That talk seemed to stop after the tea-party shellacking of 2010. Yet the truth is, Obama and his advisors never abandoned their quest to shape a permanent leftist majority, a coalition that would forever put an end to Clintonian triangulation and usher in unfettered leftist Obamaism instead. Obama’s frantic efforts to gin up the women’s vote and the youth vote aren’t only desperate attempts to secure his base. They flow from a deliberate decision not to fight for the center, but to build an independent majority on what is supposedly the “demographically ascendent” left.
Over at The Nation, Richard Kim gets it. Writing about the Lena Dunham “first time” ad controversy, he speaks of it as part of an effort “to realign the electorate towards the Democratic Party for a generation.” But the best place to read about Obama’s larger strategy is “Hope: The Sequel,” the New York magazine piece by John Heilemann that got attention last May but bears rereading now. When it comes to the course of the 2012 Obama campaign, Heilemann clearly nailed it.
His piece describes an Obama campaign willing to risk turning off socially conservative Democrats and independent voters by hyping leftist social issues. President Obama evidently made this strategic decision himself, and he publicly began to adopt it with his “evolution” on gay marriage in May of this year. While Obama’s team is solidly behind the strategy, Heilemann makes it clear that some prominent Democrats don’t like it. Instead, they fear it as an excessively divisive approach that puts the great asset of Obama’s likeability at risk with middle-ground voters.
Read the whole thing. The divide and rule strategy makes sense when on considers Obama’s pedigree — the Midwest Academy, Alinskyite community organizing, two decades under the tutelage of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and years in alliance with unrepentant anti-American terrorist Bill Ayers. But most voters never considered any of that and still don’t. It’s too esoteric. Likewise, Obama’s use of far left imagery and language, down to borrowing his “Forward” campaign slogan from socialist campaigns the world over, goes over the heads of most voters but serves the purpose of firing up the hard left.
Traditional values voters, many of whom were swayed by Obama’s warm and happy talk four years ago, certainly never did take any of the evidence of Obama’s true ideology into account. He said things that they liked and cast himself as genial and that was enough. I knew several traditional values voters four years ago who went for Obama despite all of the evidence available that he is a radical on abortion to the point of being literally pro-infanticide. Douglas Kmiec is probably the most prominent of the values voters were went for Obama four years ago. As of last year he was arguing that Catholics should not fear the possibility that Obama would use ObamaCare to impose abortifacients on religious institutions against their consciences. We all know how that turned out. Obama cannot be trusted to keep his word, and he cannot be trusted to respect any values different from his own. He is a hard core ideologue.
It’s important this election that traditional values voters not be fooled and not stay home. That imposition — first, imposing ObamaCare on a nation that did not elect the Democratic majority to pass it and that opposed its passage at the time, and then using that unpopular law to expand the power of the state over religious institutions — was of a piece with the strategy Kurtz describes above. This president clearly does not hold the Constitution or the law in high regard. He had openly declared his intent to work around the law when it suits his political interests. But his hostility to the center and right goes even deeper. This president does not have any interest at all in respecting, let alone fostering, traditional values. Obama does not want you to raise your children to respect and live by traditional values. To him, if you place any political weight to traditional values then you are “the enemy” on whom he wishes punishment.
He is already giving us glimpses — warnings, really — of how he intends to interpret re-election. Obama knows he would still have a national media mostly interested in covering for him. It continues to help him cover up the terrorist attack in Benghazi, in which four Americans were killed and about which the president himself has repeatedly lied to the American public. To him, re-election would validate ObamaCare, which would become permanent. Its violations of conscience would become permanent along with it, and he would expand its power even farther. Having gotten away with changing immigration law by fiat, there will be more unilateral action to come. He has shown no interest in solving the national debt that he has raised to an unsustainable level — he wants to double down on deficit spending to push his anti-values agenda. He has plainly said that re-election would be a mandate for the higher taxes he wants to impose. Anyone who stands in his way — governors, Congress, the church, the Supreme Court — can expect to be lied to, lied about, and demonized. That is what he has done over the past four years. Re-electing him would encourage more.
The bottom line is that Barack Obama is running his divisive small-ball campaign on purpose. He believes it is his route to big power in a second term. He would interpret re-election as license to attack values voters through rhetoric and through policy very directly and constantly. Four years is a long time to give Obama to enact the kind of radical change he really has in mind.