On Hope and Hate: Week One of Obama v. Romney
The Center for Vision and Values | April 19, 2012
By Dr. Paul Kengor
Something wonderful unfolded in American politics the last few days.
Almost immediately after Rick Santorum dropped out of the Republican presidential hunt, David Axelrod and the Obama reelection team unleashed the class-warfare cannons. They expected to enjoy the first salvo of the season, fired by Democratic lobbyist Hilary Rosen. In a CNN interview, Rosen claimed that Mitt Romneyâ€™s wife, Ann, â€œhas actually never worked a day in her life.â€
It was a nasty blow, and the public rallied to Ann Romneyâ€™s defense. As for Ann Romney, she didnâ€™t remain silent. â€œI made a choice to stay home and raise five boys,â€ she said. â€œBelieve me, it was hard work.â€ She might have noted her considerable physical sacrifices as wellâ€”such as breast cancer and MSâ€”but didnâ€™t.
While Hilary Rosenâ€™s shot was still smoldering, liberal blogs were rife with fresh Democratic talking points vilifying Mitt Romney as a â€œone percenter,â€ asking whether he paid his â€œfair shareâ€ in taxes, and attacking him for squirreling away his vile riches in foreign bank accounts. It was total class warfare. And this was just week one!
But then came the wonderful thing: Merely six days after Hilary Rosenâ€™s comment, major polling organizations released numbers on a head-to-head match-up between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and Romney suddenly has a lead. The most respected among them, Gallup, released numbers on April 17 showing Romney ahead by five points, 48 to 43 percent.
Why is this wonderful? Itâ€™s not that I adore Mitt Romney, but I loathe class hatred. Marx and the Bolsheviks and their disciples did it with great destruction. I donâ€™t want it in my country.
Itâ€™s hard to pinpoint the exact reasons for Romneyâ€™s sudden surge over Obama, but no doubt some of this (particularly the swipe at Ann Romney) backfired. Or, at the least, some pollsters and pundits are interpreting it that way. If so, then maybeâ€”just maybeâ€”Axelrod might learn that not all forms of class warfare will resonate with Americans. Letâ€™s hope thatâ€™s the case, because, otherwise, Axelrod and the president he servesâ€”who Axelrod portrays as the Great Unifier and fountain of hopeâ€”will be bitterly dividing this nation along economic lines.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, not only has President Obama been unceasingly employing class rhetoric for three years now, but Axelrod has been thrilling over precisely such an assault against Mitt Romney. â€œObama officials intend to frame Romney as the very picture of greed in the great recessionâ€”a sort of political Gordon Gekko,â€ reported an August 2011 Politico piece titled, â€œObama plan: Destroy Romney.â€ The piece quoted Axelrod: â€œHe [Romney] was very, very good at making a profit for himself and his partners but not nearly as good [at] saving jobs for communities. He is very much the profile of what weâ€™ve seen in the last decade on Wall Street.â€
This had been the plan before the Occupy Wall Street movement got up and running. Axelrod and Obama see Romney as red meat to feed the Occupy movement. As the Occupiers exploded last fall, Axelrod paused to tell MSNBC: â€œ[Romney] says he represents business, but he really represents the Wall Street side of business.â€
Envy is a deadly sin, but Team Obama desires it as an excellent divide-and-conquer tactic. Axelrod and Obama both cut their political teeth in Chicago, home of Obama inspiration Saul Alinsky, who preached the tactic of â€œisolatingâ€ a target and â€œdemonizingâ€ it. Romneyâ€™s riches fit the bill nicely.
More recently, in January, Axelrod told George Stephanopoulos that Romney is â€œnot a job creatorâ€ but a â€œcorporate raiderâ€ who outsourced â€œtens of thousands of jobs,â€ â€œclosed down more than 1,000 plants, stores, and offices,â€ and raked in â€œhundreds of millions of dollarsâ€ at the expense of the poor. Axelrod referred to this as the sinister â€œBain mentality.â€
Alas, here we are, April 2012, with the presidential race finally down to Obama v. Romney, and the first polls show Obama behind this rapacious capitalist reptile.
So, will Romneyâ€™s sudden surge signal to Axelrod and Obama to call off the class-warfare dogs? I doubt it. This thinking is too close to their hearts. Theyâ€™ve been hungering for this; fomenting class envy is what they long to do. But maybeâ€”just maybeâ€”the American public wonâ€™t swallow it.
Wouldnâ€™t it be nice if the people of this country quit hating each other, including hating people with more money? Iâ€™m hoping so, but our messengers of hope, Obama and Axelrod, are hoping not.
â€” Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How Americaâ€™s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”
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