The 2012 Election and the Inequality Narrative

One of the least-recognized and most common electoral strategies by the Republican Party is to run elections around left-wing themes.  For instance, in 2010, much of the ad spending by outside GOP-aligned groups, as well as explicit party communications, focused on health care.  The Republican attack ads didn’t center for the most part on the mandate, or anything like that, but on cuts to Medicare.  The GOP recognized that voters, especially senior voters, like Medicare.  More importantly, voters understand Medicare, so when the Democrats slashed excessive subsidies to private versions of Medicare to bring them in line with the public sector version, the Republicans had an attack line that worked.  It’s pure populism.

And populism usually does work, at least for elections.  Elites often on both sides try to run away from voters; in general party elites don’t like their voters, and those elites, who nest in a densely networked set of PR firms, lobbying firms, government agencies, unions, and corporations, are backed by highly capitalized interest groups.  But when the election comes around, they get back to whatever kind of populist narrative they can salvage.  Take this current President – he didn’t just run on Hope and Change, but on economic fairness.  In fact, I was combing through the Audacity of Hope, and I noticed that Obama actually used the 99%/1% Occupy Wall Street-style rhetoric in 2006.  (Note that messaging never really changes – the full title of his book was “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream”, and this year, one key Democratic surrogate is Van Jones, who just authored a best-selling election-year release timed book titled “Rebuild the Dream”.)

Here’s Obama, in 2006, on elections and inequality:

Increasingly I found myself spending time with people of means—law firm partners and investment bankers, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists. As a rule, they were smart, interesting people, knowledgeable about public policy, liberal in their politics, expecting nothing more than a hearing of their opinions in exchange for their checks. But they reflected, almost uniformly, the perspectives of their class: the top 1 percent or so of the income scale that can afford to write a $2,000 check to a political candidate…

Still, I know that as a consequence of my fund-raising I became more like the wealthy donors I met, in the very particular sense that I spent more and more of my time above the fray, outside the world of immediate hunger, disappointment, fear, irrationality, and frequent hardship of the other 99 percent of the population—that is, the people that I’d entered public life to serve.

In 2008, left-wing populism worked for Barack Obama and the Democrats.  In 2010, with the Medicare attack line, left-wing populism worked for the Republicans.  The irony is that the Republicans attacked the Democrats successfully by portraying an expansion of the health insurance system as a cut to that health insurance system.  This was not as dishonest an attack as it seems on first blush – the Democrats really did reduce funding for private versions of Medicare, and most of the expanded coverage theoretically kicked in as of 2014.  So even though voters might (emphasis *might*) like what they would eventually get, they didn’t get it in time for the election.  I’m curious as to whether the GOP will do the same with inequality, especially considering Mitt Romney’s obvious personal vulnerability on the question.  I’m starting to see a few people in DC notice that the Obama administration’s policies, despite some vaguely populist sounding moves like the recently defeated Buffett Rule, are not obviously different than George W. Bush’s in terms of their economic outcome.  His policies in terms of their impact may even be worse.  Here’s Michael Hirsh, with National Journal.

Despite Barack Obama’s populist rhetoric about restoring the middle class, imposing a gimmicky “Buffett Rule” against millionaires and such, the wealthiest one percent in the country have actually made out better, in percentage terms, during Obama’s “recovery” of 2009-2010 than they did from 2002-07 under George W. Bush.

Republican Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin noted this as well.  She quotes the New York Times, mixing in stats on inequality with a set of standard conservative policy ideas.

“The number of New Yorkers classified as poor in 2010 increased by nearly 100,000 from the year before, raising the poverty rate by 1.3 percentage points to 21 percent — the highest level and the largest year-to-year increase since the city adopted a more detailed definition of poverty in 2005.”..

The main culprit is the sluggish economy, the Obama economy if you will: “The recession and the sluggish recovery have taken a particularly harsh toll on children, with more than one in four under 18 living in poverty, according to an analysis by the city’s Center for Economic Opportunity that will be released on Tuesday.” The city reported that without federal and state aid, the poverty situation would have been worse. (The report indicates that New York City and the feds use different methods of calculating poverty.)…

The Buffett rule is for left-leaning elites who think voters are dolts and easily baited into becoming envious of others. It is for the economically illiterate who imagine that by taking more money from a tiny sliver of the population that already contributes a huge portion of the country’s taxes we will do. . . well do what, exactly? Not anything to address the debt. Not create jobs that might lift up middle class and poverty-stricken Americans. Not promote school choice or any other effective anti-poverty effort.

In fact, the poverty rate – the worst kind of income inequality – has increased under this president. Last fall figures showed we went from a poverty rate of 14.3 to 15.1 percent. The president, however, continues to burden employers with new taxes and regulations, increase the cost of labor for job creators (with Obamacare, for example), oppose school choice, and refuse to entertain a Republican plan to make Medicare more progressive. There’s a pretty good argument that the best thing America could do for income inequality would be to get a new president and a new set of policies.

I don’t know if this line of argument will be successful.  The Republicans aren’t particularly good at running on inequality, though there was a flare-up in the Republican nomination fight between Gingrich and Romney.  Their funders hate it, it just doesn’t work naturally with their party infrastructure because their surrogates believe in political and economic inequality as a virtue.  But they are also naturally populist in terms of disliking liberal elitism.

It’ll be interesting to see how this theme plays out in the election.  With the Buffett Rule, it’s clear that the Obama campaign will make it a centerpiece.  Yet, I’ve noted that liberals are having a really tough time electorally these days, from Eric Schneiderman’s unpopular polling numbers to savage defeats in primaries among liberal votes.  Even though it’s a really good time to be running on inequality, the rhetoric from both parties is remarkably empty, and voters seem to know it.  The Republicans are good at taking such moments, and cynically putting forward arguments about why their opponents cannot be trusted on an issue they themselves are going to make worse.  They often point to empty rhetoric, or policy failures, as evidence.  And in this case, it’s just not hard to make a case for significant policy failure or empty rhetoric.  So far, I haven’t seen the GOP take advantage of this, except for one inaccurate ad by a 501c(4) group.  We’ll see what happens now that Romney is consolidating the party behind him.

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About Matt Stoller

From 2011-2012, Matt was a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He contributed to Politico, Alternet, Salon, The Nation and Reuters, focusing on the intersection of foreclosures, the financial system, and political corruption. In 2012, he starred in “Brand X with Russell Brand” on the FX network, and was a writer and consultant for the show. He has also produced for MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show. From 2009-2010, he worked as Senior Policy Advisor for Congressman Alan Grayson. You can follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller.


  1. lumpenlotto

    – Probability that a re-elected Barack Obama stops screwing the public for his corporate masters: 0.000.

    – Probability that Mitt Romney emerges as an FDR-style class traitor or a Nixon-style sectarian outsider who strays left: 0.001.

    Those odds are not enough to make me waste time voting, but hey, if you value a 1-in-50-million chance of influencing an election, even though no party represents you, there you go: you have to vote GOP!

    1. F. Beard

      – Probability that Mitt Romney emerges as an FDR-style class traitor or a Nixon-style sectarian outsider who strays left: 0.001. lumpenlotto

      I’d agree except Mitt is a Mormon.

      Of course this in any case:

      The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1

    2. Min

      Maybe Romney is a better choice than Obama. But not because you should vote GOP. The Republican Congress is a disaster for the Republic. They have caused much unnecessary suffering. Throw the bums out!

  2. Federal Milk

    What are “left-wing themes.”? What constitues poor writing? Does it include an immediately dishonest reference point?
    What are those themes? Rebels with machine guns? Or perhaps the rule of law? Are leftists those ne’ver do wells that complain ’bout the status quo?

  3. craazyman

    Vomitissimus Politicati Americanus

    I’m not so naive that I think American history is what we learned in grade school — although part of me probably did buy some of it hook, line and sinker, during those tender years of instruction in life’s truths, and each year I lose a little more of that religion.

    Now I’m almost an atheist. And I wonder, I really wonder, if American politics has ever been as miserably and corruptly stupid, as souless and cynical, as pathetic and dishonest, as repugnantly hypocritical and grotesqely narcissistic, as full of empty souled opportunists, hucksters, liars and buck-sucking morons, as nihilistic and vulgar, as fetid and shallow, as embarrasingly hopeless and degenerate, as inept and dysfunctional, as witheringly repulsive — as it seems now.

    The answer is probably “yes”. Depending on who you asked and when.

    However, I admit that’s a long string of adjectives. Although I’m just being honest. So who am I, to judge so harshly? What have I done to deserve to fulminate such haughty and flagrant derision? Nothing. I am a nobody. Just a nobody. Like most people. But there was a time in my life when I felt that being American was to possess, in a state of potential, an egalitarian consciousness of human possibility and dignity that was rare and virtuous, something born immortal and beyond decay, an illumination that would prevail over all the assaults of darkness that accompany this realm. I now cringe at that and wonder how I could have been so delusional.

    I think that Obama has been a matador that put the final sword through the shoulders of the bull of my patriotic illusions. How anyone can vote for this guy is beyond me. Although voting for Romney seems even more stupendously assinine. November is football season, so I expect that’s what I’ll be watching on election night. Video clips from Sunday. I admit that’s pathetic, but a President Romney or Obama II is more than my tender sensibility can stand. So instead I may surf Youtube for Abba clips, like Dancing Queen and “Whatever Happened to Our Love, I wish I understood” whatever that song was called. One of these days I’ll do something worthwhile, and if I ever do, it probably won’t have anything to do with politics. But first I have to get my shit together. That could take a while. So in the meantime, I’ll just yack it up like an idiot. I don’t care.

      1. F. Beard

        Is she Jewish?

        I could vote Jewish. GW has cured me of voting for “Christians” for a long.

        1. Gennady

          Jill Stein has sensible solutions for our problems. A job guarantee, education and health reform, and other things that matter to people.

          She describes it very well on her website under “Green New Deal”

        2. Carla

          Actually, Jill Stein is a really great candidate for President. Isn’t that what matters to you and all Americans?

        3. justanotherobserver

          what does her jewishness have to do with anything ?

          just like Mitt Romney is a lying, asshole, 1%’er and whether or not he’s a mormon is irrelevant.

          1. F. Beard

            what does her jewishness have to do with anything ? justanotherobserver

            Economics. I find the Old Testament to be an excellent guide wrt economics. OTOH, it appears that Christians are ashamed of the OT, being ignorant of it, I suppose.

            As for Mitt being a Mormon, he might take that becoming a god thing too seriously.

      2. craazyman

        Holy Cow. She’s not a tree-hugger-lady is she? She looks a bit tightly strung and I’m worried she’d flip out if she won and ban forestry or something.

        I don’t know about this one. I had 2 Jewish girlfriends and I could endure a female Jewish president without complaint — as long as she directed her relentless nagging at congress and didn’t go ape-sh&t and start screaming if she doesn’t get her way. But that could happen to a lot of women, even Chinese women.

        I’m not saying I wouldn’t vote for her, I’m just saying I have some concerns.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Great comment, craazyman. That long string of adjectives resonates in the gut. I too wonder if it’s ever really been so ugly, or if we’re not witnessing the final violent throes of imperial lunacy and debauchery.

      Obama must be a tipping point for many who now see “the mendacity of deceit” as a more fitting title for his book. Following his hero Reagan, he’s taken perception management and fabricating consent to a quantum level, and he’s effortlessly dragged the feeble and feckless liberal establishment right along with him. And now that the perfect fat cat Mormon straw man has been set up for this bogus messiah to topple, the faux left propaganda mills will commence grinding their hollow grist in earnest.

      I’ll certainly take Aquifer’s advice though.

    2. Literary Critic

      Your prose struck my string section too.

      But try as I might I know not what to do.

      Any alternative it seems we have not

      And all we will get is more and more green snot!

    3. nonclassical

      …yes…check out WILLIAM BLUM’S, “Killing Hope”…and Geisst’s, “Wall $treet-A HIstory”..for documentation…

    4. JTFaraday

      “So instead I may surf Youtube for Abba clips, like Dancing Queen and “Whatever Happened to Our Love, I wish I understood””

      Yeah, I don’t know. That Mamma Mia flick can be pretty infectiously optimistic. :<)

  4. steelhead23

    Actually, the interesting question in the upcoming elections is this: will the elite who support Obama allow him to use them as a foil through unfairness rhetoric (Buffet rule) by sponsoring ads that do just that? That, my friends, would be the epitome of cynicism. I’d bet they will.

    1. Bone Head

      We’re way past cyncism and it’s stolen definition. A wealthy old crook embedded in the media is about as hostile a country can be towards it’s citizens. to say nothing of trust.

    2. Waking Up

      Do you remember when the Obama administration said they expect to raise $86 billion through 2019 by ending a strategy that lets U.S.- based multinational companies hide the role their foreign subsidiaries play in shifting profits into low-tax jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands? Five months later, they quietly backed away from that idea and began discussing ways to bring money from the tax havens back to the U.S. without any consequences. President Obama can give a speech which resonates with people, but following through is an entirely different matter.

      The very wealthy have done well under President Obama, unlike the vast majority of citizens. Compare the record of former President George W. Bush to President Obama and you will see that policies which favor the 1% have either continued or expanded under President Obama. Whether the next president is Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, it is a win-win for the 1%.

      1. justanotherobserver

        i’ve noticed the increasing tendency of this site to go after Obama with the knives.

        he certainly deserves it in many cases, but I wonder, why aren’t the knives being used to expose some of the putrefecation that is the republican controlled house ?

        I hope that Mitt begins to enjoy some of the vitriol that’s been heaped on Obama.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Even if the Rs think the undeserving should go die and that The Handmaid’s Tale is a blueprint, at least they’re entirely honest about it. I think it’s the long list of Obama’s deceptions and betrayals — and, to be fair, the Ds generally — that has people ticked off.

          But really, “knives out”? Where were you in 2008? This is nothing.

          1. Procopius

            Honest about it? Oh, come on, Lambert. I really enjoy most of your posts, but this is just… just… I dunno. Did you see Paul Ryan’s response to the Catholic Bishops when they criticised him for cutting food stamps in his budget proposal (that’s why none of them want to say what they will cut)? Did you see how he responded to the accusation that he would end Medicare> Cynical, OK, lying like a rug, OK, honest, no.

        2. albrt

          Mitt Romney is a joke. If the bankers wanted a competent Republican to run against Obama they would have gotten one. They didn’t.

          But of course the bankers win either way. The point is to delegitimize government, and we are now set to do that in 2012, regardless of the narrative details.

          1. They didn't leave me a choice

            The FIRE sector wants to delegitimise the government? I call bullshit on this one, if anything they want to strengthen the government to police state levels so their looting can continue with minimal impediment. All western governments are already totally illegitimate due to their accedence to the financials every single demand. There’s only one way left out of this mess and it sure as hell is NOT through the sham “representative” “democracy”.

  5. Fred Garvin

    Let’s make this thing interesting – Romney should select Condi Rice for Vice Stiff – you have race and sex rolled into one, enough to jar the PAC automatons into movement.
    Additionally, ma and pa kettle would take interest, salivating like canines tossed a meaty stump.

  6. Fred Garvin

    Another question is whether the Bankster-MIC will continue to satiate Chinese desire in the ongoing Afghan disaster. Drilling down to brass tacks reveals the election is a show worth missing. 2008 was disgusting enough, ’tis a shame the propagandists don’t fall on their pens (or laptops) like real men.

  7. Waking Up

    Just a thought…Mitt Romney won’t be running on “inequality”. He will be running on various versions of “are you better off now than you were four years ago?”. Since President Obama’s economic policies are neo-liberal/conservative, the answer to that question will be “no” for large numbers of people. It’s more of the same back and forth between the two parties in which the biggest losers are the American citizens.

    In addition to all the issues inequality raises, when the “lawmakers” in the country no longer believe the “rule of law” applies to the wealthiest and most powerful among us, chaos can easily ensue. What are we teaching our children now and for future generations? We may have said “greed is good” for decades, but, now we have proven that greed and corruption ARE good. How many children who then become adults will lie, cheat, and steal because they want to join that elite group in which there are no consequences to their actions?

    1. F. Beard

      How many children who then become adults will lie, cheat, and steal because they want to join that elite group in which there are no consequences to their actions? Waking Up

      The “Paradox of Wickedness?”

      1. F. Beard

        Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

  8. readerOfTeaLeaves

    On Jan 16th, ‘Morning Joe’ Scarborough gave an interview in which he claimed that Gingrich had completely violated GOP standards by pointing to structural problems with the economic system.

    According to ‘Morning’ Joe (as the mouthpiece for GOP Establishment), it was acceptable for Gingrich to talk about ‘the tax code’. But it was absolutely verboten for him question financialized capitalism — it was treason to mention that Romney’s version of capitalism makes it ‘rational’ [for Romney] to park millions in the Caymans, load up companies with so much debt that they can’t function, and extract rent from every conceivable source.

    Romney is the apotheosis of financialized capitalism, which — according to pundits like Joe and the DC Beltway pontificators — may not be held up for scrutiny. Woe betide the fool who mentions this grim fact, even if that fool’s name is ‘Gingrich’.

    Given this constriction of permissible topics of conversation, the GOP ought to keep railing on about the Buffett Rule, if for no other reason than it saves them from being drawn into questions about the viability sustainability or acceptability of current economic structures.

  9. Amateur Socialist

    The only mildly interesting question regarding the 2012 election show is whether any democrat will manage to do more to get Barack Obama reelected than Mitt Romney. So far it’s not looking good. If I was Plouffe I’d be worried for my job.

  10. Bruce Wilder

    Liberal or progressive Democrats have no prospect of achieving political power or enacting reforms without substantial support from the “authoritarian followers” to whom populist appeals appeal. These are people, who are motivated by fear and resentment, and Dems, mostly seem to think they are above all that.

    The utterly bloodless framing implied by labeling these issues, “inequality”, reflects the distain of Democrats for effective populist appeals, using resentment and fear. So, sure, when Dems are unwilling to make populist appeals, Republicans will fill the vacuum, and Democratic framing makes it easy.

    “Inequality” is abstract and diffuse, and immediately opens up the question, “How equal?” It suggests that re-distribution is the remedy, and a constituency already filled with resentment is going to be uncomfortable with redistribution. The Buffett Rule, named for the highly respected Buffett, is conspicuously symbolic redistribution, which offers no challenge to the legitimacy of high incomes.

    Democrats would do better to grow some balls. Forget “inequality” and attack economic parasites and predators. Attack predatory practices, which drain away income from the poor and middle classes. Forget the Buffett Rule, propose usury laws, which reduce credit card interest rates and regulate collections agencies, that buy second-hand, defaulted debt.

    As soon as some faction of one of the Parties starts to make the case that ties the extremes of inequality to declining investment, declining wages and increasing consumer debt, interest rates, fees and harassment, then the fight begins in earnest.

    Not holding my breath.

      1. KnotRP

        Or worse, it will happen, FTW, but they won’t
        mean it, so post-election, the looting continues

  11. aak aak aak

    When the Dems are a routed rump frantically scrabbling on the brink of extinction, then they’ll listen to us. Of course, then we’ll have civil-society alternatives so we will smile and watch them die.

  12. Hugh

    Who cares? Republicans tell one kind of lies. Democrats another. Either way, we the 99% are screwed.

    We live in a kleptocracy. Its whole point is wealth inequality. Our elites, conservative and liberal, both serve and benefit from it. So what does it matter which lies which side tells if both have it in for us?

    1. KnotRP

      Clearly, voting is the baby’s plastic steering wheel
      attached to the car seat. Once they realize it does
      not steer anything, and they are actually facing the
      rear windsheild, not the front, what happens next?

  13. wunsacon

    The 1%’s investment in business “news” in mags, on cable TV, on campus, in “think tanks”, in legislative junkets, etc. has been a stunning success.

  14. justanotherobserver

    “One of the least-recognized”

    sorry, but that’s completely inaccurate, anybody who is paying attention knows this has been a staple methodology of the republican party long before Rove thought of attacking Democratic “strengths” and turning them into a weakness.

    other than that, spot on.

  15. falun bong

    The utter and complete collapse of meaningful political discourse that addresses the nation’s real problems is historic. Back in the day people even used to discuss monetary policies, gold versus silver, and of course the big issues of how to allocate and share the nation’s wealth and whom to go to war with and why. Now in the midst of a massive global crisis and multiple wars all we can talk about is Mitt’s dog, moon colonies, contraception, and Secret Service guys who got laid. We get what we deserve.

  16. beowulf

    I think Romney will move left, but he doesn’t have to say much of anything before November. Unless the economy starting booming this summer, the cake is already baked for Obama.
    However once the deficit problem is solved forever in November (until the Democrats get back into the White House of course), the Republicans can move left on economics very easily, in fact, they almost certainly will (like Disraeli said, the castle is not safe if the cottage is unhappy).

    If the Democrats focus on dropping the ceiling, the Republican can clean up by raising the floor. He’d never admit it, but its absolutely in Romney’s interest for the Bush tax cuts and Obama spending cuts to expire in Jan (even better if Obamacare is tossed by the SC).

    With money to burn, he can throw hundreds of billions into a pass-through employer wage credit to boost family incomes (at the same time, increasing the minimum wage to $12/hr like The American Conservative urged isn’t a bad idea). More audaciously, he can replace the ill-fated Obamacare with the tried and true Medicare.

    Again, it doesn’t help the Republican a bit to talk about this until after the deficit nightmare instantly vanishes in November. Between now and then, the Republicans can simply make Obama and Buffet look stupid running on the Real Buffet Rule (Warren’s import certificate plan to eliminate the trade deficit).

    1. j.grmwd

      Rather a doubtful proposition – that Romney is really a stealth class traitor ready to save capitalism from itself. First commenter on the thread put the chances of that at 1/1000 of a percent. Sounds about right.

  17. LeeAnne

    To nail down the wealth inequality, plans are firmly in place -have been over the span of many administrations. Just one example: student loan payments can be reduced based on a percentage of income. CATCH -the IRS then takes over administration of the student loan.

    Should you default on any IRS payment, your passport, conveniently computerized with a little chip for any purpose authorities wish to use it, will prevent you from traveling out of the country.

    That’s an edict signed by Obama over the weekend while bipartisan media does their usual terrific job of in depth reporting; this time, on the salacious details of corrupt government minions carousing in Columbia.

    Your public servants in action: media and minions.
    Will it matter if you have family, spouses or children in another country? THEY will presumably DECIDE.

  18. ep3

    yves, i am expecting this buffet rule to not go away. I am actually thinking that what the plan is is to swap the bush tax cuts for this buffet rule. So permanently enact the bush tax cuts and then impose this buffet rule for the top earners. which will equate to another tax cut for them, as they fall from 35% to 30%.

  19. Jenahill

    Welcome to the inequality party. Don’t expect anyone to discuss poverty as an issue, don’t expect the fact that half of american’s are living on about $27K a year, don’t expect anyone to care. Not only does Obama not see the poverty but as my favorite populist Joe Bageant stated “All Americans, regardless of caste, live in a culture woven of self-referential illusions. Like a holographic simulation, each part refers exclusively back to the whole, and the whole refers exclusively back to the parts. All else is excluded by this simulated reality. Consequently, social realism in this country is a television commercial for America, a simulated republic of eagles and big box stores, a good place to live so long as we never stray outside the hologram. The corporate simulacrum of life has penetrated us so deeply it now dominates the mind’s interior landscape with its celebrities and commercial images. Within the hologram sparkles the culture-generating industry, spinning out our unreality like cotton candy.”
    In his essays Mr. Bageant described the state of culture in glaring and I believe accurate detail. As long as the campaign is based on television and media it will be what we usually get – a chrome plated version of reality that smells like Febreeze. You won’t see poor people, you won’t see suffering because most people don’t want to believe that is them – they are the poor, the suffering and someone with that self awareness might just get up and protest. The media is not interested in reality, they are interested in selling crap to people. So expect more of the same unreality and hopefully we won’t get a repeat of 2000.

  20. Rehabber

    The “War on Poverty” has been about as successful for D’s as the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror” has been for R’s.

    1. Min

      Less successful. Who even thinks that there is a War on Poverty anymore? The War on Christmas is more successful than the War on Poverty.

  21. Elizabeth

    That’s brilliant. Here’s how it works: Obama talks like a liberal equalizer, but then does the opposite. So when conservative Obama policies that would have made Reagan blush predictably fail to float a real economy for the masses, it’s depicted as a failure of liberalism — better yet, “liberal elitism,” which, by golly, it is. “How’s that Hopey-Changey thing workin’ for ya?” What Hopey-Changey thing? Ever get the idea this guy is working for the other side? A “new president and a new set of policies” would be more like a new president and a new way of insulting our intelligence, because the policies look the same to me.

    That little remark about 99-percenter rhetoric assuming we are “dolts” who are “envious of others” really got me. Now that’s a meme with mileage. Oh yes, we’re all just jealous of the rich for . . . “what, exactly,” Jennifer? For getting to keep homes that we’ve so far paid for, or perhaps having enough to eat? How about doing business with banks that don’t actually steal our money?

    I guess in Jennifer’s world, we’re only jealous of the One Percent’s designer shoes. Naturally, only dolts and airheads would wage a “class war” over that.

  22. Fiver

    Wall Street’s selection of Obama was the play of the century (1908-2008) – he has, in one term, destroyed what little of “progressive” remained in the Progressive brand, and taken ALL the heat from far right, allowing them to utterly discredit themselves in the process. In 2016, after another 4 years of O’Bush, while the powerful continue to consolidate their bonanza gains, the people will finally be allowed to “throw out the bums” and install an endearing “moderate” Republican who will with zest finish the job of “securing” the Homeland with a ceremonial tossing of the Key to Democracy into the Marianas Trench.

    How many times have we been told Obama plays chess, not checkers? Well, he doesn’t. He jumped progressives and the far right, and is soon to be crowned – a victory for the mythical “Middle” he moved further towards a form of fascism than a mere Kissinger’s wildest dreams.

    So you end up with astounding pieces like this one linked, from a “progressive” (what could the word possibly mean?) actually singing the praises of Ben Bernanke, when it is beyond doubt that Bernanke has no character whatever, will do whatever those who own and operate Wall Street tell him, and ought at minimum be forced to apologize personally to everyone in the US and around the globe that got smashed to bits in good part by his hand.

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