Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The Insurgent Incumbent
Obama's team is nothing if not creative. After running for his first term as a force of change, he's off and running for his second term as... the force of change. Don't like the last change, this will be the change from that change to a whole other change.
"We Can't Wait" oddly echoes with Obama's old slogan, "We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For." Now after having waited for three for ourselves... we can't wait for another four years of the same thing. The problem with waiting for ourselves while waiting to vote again for the man who got us into this mess is that it means we'll be waiting a long time. But "We Can't Wait" echoes another slogan that the Obama team was extremely familiar with, the left's "We Can't Wait To Drive the Bush Regime Out." This time around Obama might have called it, "We Can't Wait to Drive Boehner Out", but it's a slogan that would have confused most people.
What we really can't wait for is the next phase of the Obama campaign, which has completely swallowed any pretense at actual governing, and is just treating the business of government as the backdrop to a series of negative campaign ads.
"Why do the Republicans hate firefighters, veterans and teachers? Why won't they vote right away on that bill which may or may not actually exist? Why do they make little puppies cry?"
If the voters actually think about the message, instead of chewing the predigested CNN and WaPo memes shipped hot and fresh from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, then they might want to ask themselves why they should elect a man so incompetent that he can't govern unless he controls all the branches of government.
Before the Republicans took back congress, the Supreme Court and the Senate were the arrogant bastards interfering with the greatest reform agenda ever. When Obama lost the House, suddenly the Senate was the last hope of mankind, and the House was a bunch of gridlocked lunatics who were doing nothing while the economy was being destroyed.
Obama's idea of bipartisanship is to denounce Republicans for not having already passed a program that he just announced five minutes ago. It's a fine thing to do before an election, much like stealing your opponent's sign, throwing paint at his house and claiming that his wife killed JFK. But does anyone really want that brand of entertainment to be the approach to governing the country after election day?
The timing of the Occupy Wall Street protests lines up neatly with Obama's class warfare reelection campaign and his weak Wall Street fundraising. Last time around Obama took home bundles of cash from the Street, this time he's reduced to counting matchsticks. All the class warfare shtick serves a dual purpose, find someone to run against and warn the banks and brokers that they better reach into their wallets for the reelection campaign or the mob will do it for them.
The class warfare theme skips the question of whether Obama should campaign against Romney, for his wealth, business connections and religion, against Perry, for his accent, business connections and religion, or against Cain for his business connections, and in the left's time honored way of dealing with black men on the right, his intelligence. Instead he can just campaign on a platform of fighting against corporate control of government-- even while he has his hand so deep in the corporate till there are logos on his knuckles.
Class warfare transforms Obama into the candidate of change all over again-- a position he is much more comfortable with because it comes with lots of expectations and no record. As the candidate of change, he is "born again" to be the blank slate that everyone can project their hopes and wishes on.
From "We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For" to "Greater Together", the slogans once again try to fool younger voters into feeling as if they are part of his story. Back on the talk show circuit, the magazine cover, the smirk is flashed and everyone cheers at the right moment. The change is coming.
The problem with the incumbent as the insurgent is that the public blames the incumbent for the things that happened on his watch. For the incumbent to run as an insurgent, he needs an enemy to blame for everything that came before. The Republican congress fits part of the bill, with constant warnings that electing members of another party has so badly gridlocked the government that the bills he won't submit aren't being voted on.
The whole bill though demands an enemy. A bigger enemy than a bunch of congressmen that most people couldn't name if they were being waterboarded. Capitalism.
Stick to what you know is a belated lesson, but a copy of Rules for Radicals is back on the desk and the red meat is being tossed out to voters. But the meat isn't red because it came from a cow, but because it was taken secondhand from a back alley McMarx joint off the Red Square.
It's fine to stuff the banks full of pork and then throw them under the bus when you need the under thirties to feel something about anything. And that's what Occupy Wall Street is about more than anything else, a voter outreach program to make voting Obama seem cool again.
Occupy Wall Street is less of a movement for political change, than a movement of getting the voters who boosted Obama last time around to come out to the polls once again. Dangling the bait of real "Change" with a small army of professional activists, the homeless and compulsive drummers is one way to do it.
Obama can't run on his record for the same reason that Charles Manson can't apply for parole based on how many murders he was involved in. The negative is all he has left. Teach the people to hate someone else more than him-- and he might as well be toasting his second term.
That's why it doesn't matter if he's at a 43 percent approval rating or a 33 percent approval rating. If he can get his opponent to a lower approval rating, then he will win. And the Republican party has made it a little too easy for him. Whoever wins the nomination won't be a McCain, but neither will he be a Reagan or even a Bush. The problem though is that Obama looks more like Carter or Dukakis and his only stopgap is a press corps that's eager for treats and a scratch behind the ear.
Class warfare is his last best defense because it shifts the discussion from him to an amorphous foe. Who are the bankers anyway? Why is home heating oil so expensive, why are there so few jobs and why are student loans so expensive. The bankers obviously. The more people curse Wall Street, the less they're thinking about how badly the guy with the grin messed up the country.
But on election day, the "bankers" won't be on the ballot, and painting his opponent as a tool of big business interests is a charge that the media will echo, but is likely to only have a limited resonance with the American public. Most people know what crony capitalism is, even if they don't have a name for it, and they know that lobbyists write their checks to everyone.
The flip side of Obama's little game is that when the Mau-Mauing and Mao-Maoing is done, voters still want change and not even the planted grass roots smoking weed at Occupy Wall Street really believe that he is the candidate of change anymore.
Obama has done the next best thing to running against himself, but no matter how how much red meat from the red square he tosses out, or how many drum circles bang their sticks together against the Street, it is his failures and his economic disasters that matter. Bush and the bankers, and every other person and force that he has tried to use a negative repulsion magnet will be there. And the man that will be in there will be the candidate of change, just because he isn't him.