It is easy to overestimate the significance of today’s headlines and how they will impact the November elections, but there is no doubt that some of the impressions that will shape voters’ sentiments are being developed now. Obviously, for Mitt Romney, the narrative of him as a wealthy capitalist — and part of the negative stereotype that goes with that label — will always be present, courtesy in part of recent attacks by President Obama. But at the same time, both Obama and Romney are also incrementally defining themselves.
The president has said several things recently that have made me do a double take. Since he has the resources of the presidency at his disposal and an able campaign team, I assume they know what they are doing. So I assume when the president said on Friday, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen,” he meant to belittle business leaders, entrepreneurs and the private sector generally by suggesting that building a business is not a worthy individual accomplishment.
Since he has committed to destroying the notion that Romney was an effective, productive business leader, he’s going all in with the populist — dare I say, socialist — idea that all business is bad; or at least that being in business or developing a business is not a noble calling. I’ve avoided calling Obama a socialist until now, but what socialist wouldn’t say what he said? Isn’t it one of socialism’s core beliefs that business activity and achievement are somehow a credit to a collective effort rather than individual hard work?
Anyway, it seems as if the president’s campaign is too intense too early. Fewer voters are deciding today who to vote for in November than us insiders think. Obama's tactics could produce some short-term benefits for his campaign, but the election is a long way away. The president might have some regrets late this fall. He could win July and lose October. Obama has made a strategic mistake by punting away any moderate appeal to the private sector and those who aspire to succeed on their own.