Monday, August 06, 2012

Obama vs. Romney and "people like him"

"Now, let me make sure people understand this. They're asking you to pay an extra $2,000 not to pay down the deficit, not to invest in our kids’ education -- Mr. Romney is asking you to pay more so that people like him get a tax cut." - President Barack Obama, Remarks by the President at Campaign Event/John S. Knight Center/Akron OH 08/01/2012

One of the characteristic of Barack Obama's speeches to which David Bromwich has called particular attention is his explicitly identifying himself with the wealthy, using phrases such as "folks like myself". (That from his tax speech of 07/09/2012, "So that’s why I believe it’s time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans -- folks like myself -- to expire.")

Even when he's using it to call for more progressive taxation, it still identifies him with the wealthy. His phrase this past week, referring to Romney and the other super-rich as "people like him" is much more effective for a campaign speech.

Digby and David Atkins regularly remind us at their Hullabaloo blog that immediately after the election we have something other than progressive policies to expect from Obama in the fight over the "fiscal cliff".

But as Van Jones says, progressives face two major fights this year: November and December. "November" the fight to get Obama re-elected and Mitt Romney defeated. "December" is the fight to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from Obama and the Republicans agreeing on a Grand Bargain to cut them.

Despite the President's commitment to the Grand Bargain, the second fight is likely to be easier to win if Obama gets elected in a relatively progressive campaign. And he will need to appeal to the 99% against the One Percent to get elected with the economy like it is and possibly a euro collapse that could bring new and dramatic trouble to the US financial system. Focusing attention on rallying voters against Romney and "folks like him" is a far better position than Obama asking voters to trust the One Percent because they are "folks like myself."

A recent ad from MoveOn, Rafalca Romney (YouTube date 08/02/2012), makes the point about "people like him":

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