Obama hits sour notes, Romney singing the right tune

| May 26 2012
Christopher Cook

In an earlier post, we discussed Barack Obama’s attacks on Romney via Bain Capital, and the problems this poses not for Romney, but for Obama himself. First, because it is coming off as an attack on capitalism itself, which is alienating people—even many Democrats. Second, it is looking extremely hypocritical, given that Obama is taking money from Bain and other private equity firms, and given that his national co-chair is a private equity guy. All in all, this line of attack is hurting Obama far more than Romney.

This points up one of the most interesting things about Obama. He is a true believer. He’s not a modern leftist who watched the failure of command economics in the 20th century and concluded that free-markets work, but must be managed. That’s what many of his colleagues appear to believe, like Cory Booker or Harold Ford. In their view, it seems, capitalism is the right system, but it requires heavy regulation, and there should be high taxation in order to maintain a massive welfare state.

Obama appears to be more of a throwback, closer to a classic reformist socialist. (Reformist socialism is contrasted with revolutionary socialism, which eschews gradual change in favor of sudden, violent overthrow.) In other words, he does not believe in markets at all, but he recognizes the need for incrementalism in implementing the deconstruction of the existing order. His intense use of corporatism and crony capitalism, and the rapid pace at which he is attempting to move, indicate that he has a destination point in mind well to the left of Booker, Ford, et al, and he is impatient to get there.

This may be why Obama is increasingly sounding sour notes in his campaign. He tries lines of attack and they fail, and even backfire. When he goes after private equity or Wall Street, he thinks it will resonate with Americans because it resonates with the Marxist professors he hung out with in college. The fact that he is hypocritically taking money from private equity and Wall Street doesn’t even seem weird to him. Reformist leftists will often accept that they must take roundabout steps to achieve their ends, even if it means temporary alliances with—and use of—capitalist entities . . . even if it means hypocrisy or “breaking a few eggs.” The hypocrisy seems normal to Obama, because it is a standard reformist-leftist tactic of short-term necessity. Surely the Marxist professors would understand.

The fact that Obama doesn’t quite get that the rest of America might not understand or appreciate these tactics may be an indication of just how far left he truly is. He’s really steeped in it. So much so that he’s even freaking out a lot of Democrats, including those brave enough to speak up. He’s so far out of the mainstream that the notes he is singing are discordant—they’re simply nowhere close to the song the rest of the nation is singing.

Romney, for his part, does hit an occasional odd note. He’s a bit awkward at times, and he comes off as a such. But the more you hear him talk, the more that—in spite of the occasional blue note—he sounds like he’s mostly singing the right tune. He’s optimistic and cheery, and his support of business is going to resonate far more with most Americans than Obama’s cynical attacks on it.

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