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Right Turn
Posted at 08:45 AM ET, 10/17/2011

Obama’s crony political gambit

The Post reports that President Obama plans to turn the street mob’s ire against his likely adversary in 2012, Mitt Romney. “President Obama and his team have decided to turn public anger at Wall Street into a central tenet of their reelection strategy.” There are a few problems with this.

For starters, as the chart in the report aptly illustrates, the media attention vastly outweighs the number of protesters. Sure, the New York mob numbered over 3,000, but no other city had more than 430 people. That’s right — 430. It’s hard to base a political appeal on a sliver of a fringe group, one that has resorted to violence and nasty anti-Semitic language. He might want to think twice before associating with a group that refused to allow a civil rights veteran, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the right to speak at a protest. (“A video of the incident, in which Lewis looks on uncomfortably as activists rise to debate whether allowing a congressman to speak violates the spirit of the protest, became an Internet sensation.”)

In addition, Obama is not exactly lacking Wall Street connections (“the strategy of channeling anti-Wall Street anger carries risks. Many of Obama’s senior advisers have ties to the financial industry — a point that makes Occupy protesters wary of the president and his party”).

Moreover, given the prominence of the Solyndra scandal, it might not be a good idea to focus the public on the noxious interaction between Wall Street financiers and the White House. As Right Turn guest blogger Matt Continetti writes in the Weekly Standard:

“There are no guarantees in the business world about success and failure,” lectured White House press secretary Jay Carney in September. Carney, whose knowledge of the business world comes from 20 years as a journalist and a few as a press flack, added, “That is just the way business works, and everyone recognizes that.” . . . And President Obama . . . said in his October 6 press conference, “There were going to be some companies that did not work out. Solyndra was one of them.” . . .
It shows how little the men operating the federal government know about free enterprise. And it implies, quite unintentionally, a familiarity and comfort with a system of relations between the public and private sectors that makes most Americans blanch — and drives some into the streets.
The fact that the president and his senior staff poorly grasp the distinction between private capital and taxpayer guarantees is nothing less than depressing. For the umpteenth time: When an investor risks his own money on a company, he is the only one that loses if the company goes belly up. Yet when the government backs a firm, it privatizes any gain while socializing the risk. . . . Call it what you will — crony capitalism, venture socialism, Stamokap (for “state monopoly capitalism”) in Lenin’s catchy phrase. The names all describe a set of interlocking relationships by which interchangeable government and financial elites use politics to direct favors and investment to their friends. And these relationships make a parody of the ethic of individual responsibility, entrepreneurial risk-taking and free enterprise we should want our society and culture to embody.

When Obama rails at big business, or attempts to paint a man who helped create companies and employ thousands by risking private money, he reminds us of just how lacking in awareness about the private sector the current White House crew is. Obama and his political hacks can’t grasp that, if you hold the threat of higher taxes over the heads of businesses, load on a new health-care obligation, put every bell and whistle on financial “reform” and speak in the lingo of class warfare, employers might cower and not want to hire many new workers.

Obama, of course, tried this in 2010, trying to make the U.S. Chamber of Commerce into a boogeyman that was using “foreign” money to buy the election. It did not spare the president’s party from a “shellacking,” as he put it.

But Obama may not have any choice. He can’t run on his record. The suggestion that he might make Romney out to be “weird,” code word for Mormon, was likely blown up by the bigoted pastor Robert Jeffress. So what’s Obama going to run on? You understand the dilemma.

By  |  08:45 AM ET, 10/17/2011

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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