Are you an idiot?
President Obama seems to think that’s exactly what you are.
It must be the reason he is conducting a campaign marked by a certain contempt for voters. He probably thinks you’re not smart enough to notice the sneer.
But with Mitt Romney rising in the polls, Obama and his political advisers may be discovering that Americans are not idiots.
Obama shows his contempt when he fails to be specific about what he will do if he is reelected president. And he shows his contempt when he draws a caricature of a despicable Romney that’s as believable as Freddy Krueger.
And as he insults the American people, Obama is also insulting himself. The president is a man who has thought hard about the liberal philosophy that guides him. He once hoped to sway Americans with his ideas. Instead, he’s trying to obscure his program and vilify his opponent.
Though sometimes derided as being built on an empty promise of “hope and change,” Obama’s 2008 campaign offered tangible goals, including an overhaul of the health care system and an end to the war in Iraq.
But in the first two presidential debates, Obama has offered up mainly general promises to increase spending in a few areas, and almost nothing about how to solve the great problem of our time – long term deficits driven by entitlement spending that will have to be dramatically slashed.
Obama’s solution, served up in the first debate, amounts to, “Don’t worry, be happy.” At a moment when a leader is needed to propose the hard choices necessary and create a mandate to address an existential dilemma, Obama hopes you’ll fall for the idea that The Hindenburg is the perfect flying machine.
“So the way for us to deal with Medicare in particular is to lower health care costs,” he said. “But when it comes to Social Security, as I said, you don’t need a major structural change in order to make sure that Social Security is there for the future.”
This is nonsense that ignores the pain that’s on the way.
Obama’s plan for the near-term deficit, other than – somewhat counter-intuitively – increasing spending, is to smack the rich around with a tax increase.
Raising the taxes of families making more than $250,000 a year will not go very far toward eliminating the deficit.
Instead, the proposal is a symptom of Obama’s ideology, which wants to punish success and redistribute it.
But it is also an appeal to the basest emotions of voters, an effort to breed resentment against the wealthy and translate it into support for Obama, who fashions himself the champion of the middle class.
It’s an appeal to anger, built on the hope that you won’t be able to discern populist demagoguery and left-wing dogma from a serious attempt to tackle the deficit.
Driving parallel to Obama’s empty agenda but traveling on an even lower road is his extraordinarily personal attempt to brand Romney a liar and a shameless tool of the wealthy.
Obama was again testing your intelligence during the second debate, when he tried to peddle some snake oil about Romney aching to devote his presidency to making the rich richer.
“Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan,” Obama said. “And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector, that’s been his philosophy as governor, that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.”
It’s almost sad to see a thinker of Obama’s caliber lofting such simplistic left-wing rhetoric out of the mud, bellowing, in effect, “He only cares about rich people!”
It would be sad except Obama knows better, and he hopes you won’t.
And in what appears to have been part Machiavellian political strategy and part foot-stomping fit of pique by a sore loser, Obama reportedly chaired a meeting in which he and his operatives decided to make Romney’s “dishonesty” the central issue of their campaign. The charge, in essence, was that Romney cheated during the debate by lying about his record and his plans.
This was a new addition to the portfolio of insults the Obama campaign had already been spitting out at Romney, which had mainly focused on his supposedly unscrupulous business practices.
These are the desperate ravings of a campaign that has nothing more politically effective to talk about. Obama’s signature policies, the stimulus and Obamacare, are unpopular. The campaign’s slogan is “forward,” but it doesn’t want to give you too much detail about where “forward” leads.
The Obama campaign has a sense of unreality about it, both in its agenda and its argument with its opponent.
At its core, the Obama campaign is a cartoon. And it hopes you are dumb enough that you like cartoons.