December 7, 2011
President Obama in effect launched his 2012 reelection campaign yesterday, with a speech in the town of Osawatomie, Kansas, where Teddy Roosevelt unveiled his "New Nationalism" theme a century ago. See whitehouse.gov. One of the key rhetorical highlights was this:
"This country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules. These aren't Democratic values or Republican values. These aren't 1 percent values or 99 percent values. They're American values. And we have to reclaim them."
As he so often does in his speeches, the President resorted to lame red herring catch phrases, like "trickle down." At one point, Obama noted that some people called Teddy Roosevelt a socialist, just because he wanted to enact some reforms. He was obviously mocking those who say he (Obama) is a socialist, using a silly face -- not very presidential. According to Washington Post writer Glenn Kessler, moreover, Obama's Kansas speech had a few "suspect facts," such as his chronology of tax policy changes and economic growth under the Bush administration.
In any event, it was definitely a clever move, appealing to moderates who want a pro-business leader but are appalled at the Republicans' lurch toward the far right. It also gives Obama and the Democrats a perfect opportunity to use the label "progressive" in a positive way, since T.R. was a "progressive." But on the other hand, Obama has to keep his allies in the "Occupy Wall Street" happy. (Hence his allusion to the 1% and the 99%.) After all, it was soon after he admonished frustrated Democratic activists to stop moping around and put on their "marching shoes" back in September that those protests got started. Coincidence? I think not. So the big question for next year is whether Obama can draw support from left-wing "Occupiers" as well as moderates on Main Street USA. Can he pull off such a political feat? It gives me no pleasure to say:
Yes, he can!
On Facebook yesterday I put in a good word for Newt Gingrich, who seems to be as likely as anyone to win the GOP presidential nomination next year. Bruce Bartlett sees Newt as hopelessly cynical and opportunistic, but I think that's a bit harsh. So I responded:
I freely acknowledge all of Newt's leadership shortcomings, his character flaws, and his need to pander to a Republican Base that is in a perpetual fever or derangement, and I still say the country would be better off with him in the White House than with Obama. But I'll have plenty of time to reflect and reconsider that as this marathon campaign continues...