It’s “game on” for the politics of retaliation.
While campaigning in the swing state of Ohio, President Obama’s supporters began to boo last Friday when he uttered the name “Mitt Romney.”
“No, no, no,” the President shouted, “don’t boo. Vote. Voting is the best revenge…”
Those who support the President’s re-election are to seek revenge on others. That’s quite a directive from the President of the United States, and it is quite a departure from the candidate of four years ago who promised to unite all Americans in the pursuit of higher purposes.
But it is nonetheless an example of that for which President Obama has become known -turning American against American. It’s more than an “our campaign versus theirs” remark. The implied message is that I will be made to feel better, if you are sufficiently maligned and impugned.
In particular it is meant to convey that if my government punishes you by taking away more of your money, then my life will somehow become more wonderful. It is a false premise that has emanated throughout Mr. Obama’s campaign for re-election and throughout his nearly four years of policies as well.
Reaction this weekend to the President’s “revenge” admonition was eerily similar to that which followed his famous “you didn’t build that” vitriol aimed at business owners last spring. Romney and Ryan made it a talking point from the stump, while the President’s surrogates went in to the usual “he was taken out of context” and “what he really meant was” explanations.
But consider how the President’s propensity for “revenge” on certain categories of Americans is at the epicenter of his economic ideas and rhetoric. Even back four years ago when he was promising to “bring us all together,” candidate Obama nonetheless consistently expressed disdain – and yes, an attitude of revenge – towards successful business enterprises.
Speaking to a stadium full of adoring followers in August of that year, then-Senator Obama went-off with a tirade about how American oil companies were making too much money! As the crowd cheered him on, he said, in part:
“…You’ve got oil companies making record profits…no… no companies in history have made the kind of profits the oil companies are makin’ right now…they..they…….one company, Exxon Mobil, made eleven billion dollars…billion, with a “b” ….last quarter….they made eleven billion dollars the quarter before that…makin’ money hand-over-fist…makin’ out like bandits…”
From there, Senator Obama went on to introduce his new “energy policy.” He wanted to raise taxes on oil companies (because, obviously, it is unfair if a company is “too profitable”), and use that “extra” tax revenue to give “working Americans” a thousand-dollar voucher that they could use to make gasoline purchases.
Senator Obama made no mention of the untold numbers of shareholders who invest their money in oil companies, nor any reference to the men and women who invest their talents and efforts into oil companies. And he certainly made no reference to fact that that oil companies actually provide us all with an essential product. No, Barack Obama is not given to such essential truths. Americans in 2008 were feeling fearful about the economy, and oil companies were enjoying success all at the same time – it was an opportunity to gin-up the desire for “revenge” that couldn’t be ignored.
Fast-forward to 2011.