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Right Turn
Posted at 08:45 AM ET, 05/21/2012

The paternalistic party

Former CNN news anchor Campbell Brown made waves when she wrote this in the New York Times, of all places:

When I listen to President Obama speak to and about women, he sometimes sounds too paternalistic for my taste. In numerous appearances over the years — most recently at the Barnard graduation — he has made reference to how women are smarter than men. It’s all so tired, the kind of fake praise showered upon those one views as easy to impress. As I listen, I am always bracing for the old go-to cliché: “Behind every great man is a great woman.”

Campbell is also understandably irked by “the fictional character of Julia, presented in Mr. Obama’s Web ad, ‘The Life of Julia,’ a silly and embarrassing caricature based on the assumption that women look to government at every meaningful phase of their lives for help.”

Well, it’s a problem if many of the female voters whom Obama is targeting agree with Campbell that his “tone that can come across as grating and even condescending.” It is actually a bigger problem than just women voters.

Obama’s campaign risks come off as condescending to the entire country. Because he cannot run on his record, he must target this and that segment of the electorate, alternately flattering and scaring them. He tells students not to worry about debt — taxpayers will take care of their loans. He tells seniors not to worry about Medicare — he won’t let those meanie Republicans push grandma over the cliff. He tells Hispanics not to worry (even though he never delivered on immigration reform) — because he’s in favor of immigration reform, unlike those terrible Republicans.

In each case he treats the segment of the electorate he is addressing like children. He tells them what they want to hear, does not address the central problem (the economy’s performance) and paints cartoon pictures of Republicans. He imagines they are not bright and are easily frightened. He tells them a fairy tale — we can make no systemic changes in our spending, tax the “rich” some more and keep going. His entire campaign is based on the idea that voters are dim, selfish and envious.

Obama is not unique in this regard. The essence of modern liberalism is paternalism, namely that government is needed to run your lives, provide for you, take away all those confusing choices and divvy up a fixed pie into slices that it, in its benevolence, apportions to each group in society.

Of course, Julia is insulting. Of course, Obama is pandering to women voters. That is the essence of what statist liberals do. Campbell Brown deserves credit for opening some eyes in Manhattan to the nature of their Democratic Party. If you want, as she quotes Abraham Lincoln, “an open field and a fair chance,” you better look to the party of Lincoln. You’ll not find that sensibility in the party of Obama.

By  |  08:45 AM ET, 05/21/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign, Culture, Media

 
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