January 27, 2014
But hey, what could go wrong with such a speech? Other than America’s class warrior-in-chief might use soothing, diplomatic language that suggests getting opponents’ faces and punching back twice as hard? Or these earlier examples of the president’s pro-business rhetoric:
Here’s Barack Obama on the campaign trail, in February of 2008:
So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.
There’s this quote from an attorney who deposed Chrysler’s president in May of 2009:
“It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers… It really wasn’t Chrysler’s decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President’s automotive task force.”
“My administration,” the president told bank CEOs in April of 2009, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”
Obama as quoted by the New York Times in March of 2009 on AIG bonuses:
“I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry. I’m angry,” Mr. Obama said, his voice reaching a peak seven days after learning of the bonuses given to employees of the American International Group. “What I want to do, though, is channel our anger in a constructive way.”
Obama during the BP oil spill:
“I was down there a month ago, before most of these talkin’ heads were even paying attention to the gulf. A month ago…I was meeting with fishermen down there, standin’ in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. and I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminare, we talk to these folks because they potentially…have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”
Obama in April of 2010, in the middle of a speech on Wall Street “reform” blurted out, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”
In June of 2008, Jim Geraghty spotted this telling passage in a book by David Mendell titled Obama: From Promise to Power:
“[Obama] always talked about the New Rochelle train, the trains that took commuters to and from New York City, and he didn’t want to be on one of those trains every day,” said Jerry Kellman, the community organizer who enticed Obama to Chicago from his Manhattan office job. “The image of a life, not a dynamic life, of going through the motions… that was scary to him.”
That’s the pro-business president you want giving a “healing speech about class and inequality,” and urging “an end to attacks on the rich.”
Today at the Washington Post, former GWB speechwriter Michael Gerson notes that “The brand of the Obama reelection campaign, so far, is ruthlessness:”
Obama’s agenda, strategy and rhetoric are now solidly blue — perhaps for sound political reasons. But Obama’s talent for inspiration was the single most interesting thing about him as a politician. Without that aspiration, what is left of his appeal? This is the reason his Ohio speech seemed so boring, particularly in comparison to his speeches four years ago. There was little that couldn’t be said by any liberal politician, at any time. Obama has lost more than a campaign talking point; he has lost one of the main reasons for his rise.
What principle or purpose unites Obama’s initial campaign with his current reelection effort? There is little obvious continuity — apart from one, unchanging commitment. The cause that has outlasted hope and change is Obama himself.
There have always been two parts of Obama’s political persona, both of which were essential to his rapid advancement. There is the Hyde Park Obama, lecturing on constitutional law, quoting Reinhold Niebuhr and transcending old political divisions. There is also the South Side Obama, who rose in Chicago politics by doing what it takes.
This is not unusual. All politicians believe that their tenacity and competitiveness are servants to their idealism. But as the Hyde Park Obama fades, the South Side Obama becomes less appealing.
All of the atmospheric elements of politics — unity, bipartisanship and common purpose — are significantly worse than four years ago. This is not all Obama’s fault. But he is choosing — in a campaign so nasty, so early — to make it worse. At some point, ruthlessness just leaves ruins.
To paraphrase Peter Arnett, Obama apparently believes it’s necessary to destroy the country in order to save it.
So, you know, that kinda stuff might have something to do with it. Then, of course, there’s the IRS targeting, the Standard & Poor’s retaliation, and the like. You know, the basic political thuggishness for which Chicago politicians are known, and which Obama — despite the flavor of his 2008 campaign, now largely forgotten — now embodies. “When the President says something, it becomes policy.”
Anyway, that might explain things, for those having trouble grasping what’s going on. What’s interesting, though, is that a lot of lefties act genuinely puzzled that anyone could respond to this kind of behavior by feeling threatened or upset. But when a Republican Administration talks about keeping a boot on the neck of its enemies, perhaps they’ll understand. They’ve certainly gone crazy over far less.
But the real irony, of course, is that the very rich have been disproportionately supporters of Obama and other left-wing causes — I’m talking to you, Google folks — and if every billionaire in the country was hanged tomorrow, the toll would lean heavily toward Obama donors. So I guess Lenin got it wrong: The capitalists don’t sell the rope they’re hanged with. They donate it. Seems like a bad deal to me, but what do I know? I’m not a billionaire. But perhaps the people who are suffer from false consciousness. And maybe that’s breaking down now, which would explain why the lefties are so upset. . . .
UPDATE: Related thoughts here: “It starts at the top. The President of the United States has used his bully pulpit to openly criticize and try and create class division. He has used the emotions of envy, jealousy, and fear to get the movement started. . . . The income divide in the US is more a result of Federal Reserve and government policy than any technological change.”