The Scapegoat Strategy

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by JamesL, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. JamesL


    What do you do if you can’t run on your record — on 9 percent unemployment, stagnant growth and ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see? How to run when you are asked whether Americans are better off than they were four years ago and you are compelled to answer no?

    Play the outsider. Declare yourself the underdog. Denounce Washington as if the electorate hasn’t noticed that you’ve been in charge of it for nearly three years.

    But above all: Find villains.

    President Obama first tried finding excuses, blaming America’s dismal condition on Japanese supply-chain interruptions, the Arab Spring, European debt and various acts of God.

    Didn’t work. Sounds plaintive, defensive. Lacks fight, which is what Obama’s base lusts for above all.

    Hence Obama’s new strategy: Don’t whine, blame. Attack. Indict. Accuse. Who? The rich — and their Republican protectors — for wrecking America.

    In Obama’s telling, it’s the refusal of the rich to “pay their fair share” that jeopardizes Medicare. If millionaires don’t pony up, schools will crumble. Oil-drilling tax breaks are costing teachers their jobs. Corporate loopholes will gut medical research.

    It’s crude. It’s Manichaean. And the left loves it. As a matter of math and logic, however, it’s ridiculous. Obama’s most coveted tax hike — an extra 3 to 4.6 percent for millionaires and billionaires (weirdly defined as individuals making more than $200,000) — would have reduced last year’s deficit (at the very most) from $1.29 trillion to $1.21 trillion. Nearly a rounding error. The oil-drilling breaks cover less than half a day’s federal spending. You could collect Obama’s favorite tax loophole — depreciation for corporate jets — for 100 years and it wouldn’t cover one month of Medicare, whose insolvency is a function of increased longevity, expensive new technology and wasteful defensive medicine caused by an insane malpractice system.

    After three years, Obama’s self-proclaimed transformative social policies have yielded a desperately weak economy. What to do? Take the low road: Plutocrats are bleeding the country, and I shall rescue you from them.

    Problem is, this kind of populist demagoguery is more than intellectually dishonest. It’s dangerous. Obama is opening a Pandora’s box. Popular resentment, easily stoked, is less easily controlled, especially when the basest of instincts are granted legitimacy by the nation’s leader.

    Exhibit A. On Tuesday, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed punitive legislation over China’s currency. If not stopped by House Speaker John Boehner, it might have led to a trade war — a 21st-century Smoot-Hawley. Obama knows this. He has shown no appetite for a reckless tariff war. But he set the tone. Once you start hunting for villains, they can be found anywhere, particularly if they are conveniently foreign.

    Exhibit B. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin rails against Bank of America for announcing a $5-a-month debit card fee. Obama echoes the opprobrium with fine denunciations of banks and their hidden fees — except that this $5 fee is not hidden. It’s perfectly transparent.

    Yet here is a leading Democratic senator advocating a run on a major (and troubled) bank — after two presidents and two Congresses sunk billions of taxpayer dollars to save failing banks. Not because they were deserving or virtuous but because they are necessary. Without banks, there is no lending. Without lending, there is no business. Without business, there are no jobs.

    Exhibit C. To the villainy-of-the-rich theme emanating from Washington, a child is born: Occupy Wall Street. Starbucks-sipping, Levi’s-clad, iPhone-clutching protesters denounce corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over.

    These indignant indolents saddled with their $50,000 student loans and English degrees have decided that their lack of gainful employment is rooted in the malice of the millionaires on whose homes they are now marching — to the applause of Democrats suffering acute Tea Party envy and now salivating at the energy these big-government anarchists will presumably give their cause.

    Except that the real Tea Party actually had a program — less government, less regulation, less taxation, less debt. What’s the Occupy Wall Street program? Eat the rich.

    And then what? Haven’t gotten that far.

    No postprandial plans. But no matter. After all, this is not about programs or policies. This is about scapegoating, a failed administration trying to save itself by blaming our troubles — and its failures — on class enemies, turning general discontent into rage against a malign few.

    From the Senate to the streets, it’s working. Obama is too intelligent not to know what he started. But so long as it gives him a shot at reelection, he shows no sign of caring.
  2. Ricter


    You haven't heard? There are jobs.
  3. JamesL


    Not according to the Occupy crowd.
  4. Ricter


    But, as we've heard, they're nuts, right? So this piece's first premise is wrong. Good thing you didn't have to type it!
  5. JamesL


  6. Ricter


    Well then, I guess you can relax about the upcoming election and move on to other concerns.
  7. NO, Jobs supported.

    New Obama metric: “Jobs supported”

    Old and busted: Jobs “saved or created.” New hotness: Jobs “supported.” In attempting to advance the argument for Barack Obama’s new jobs stimulus plan, the White House has decided to create a new term that has, er, even less meaning than their previous measure:
    How exactly did the White House come up with its new metric? Chuck Blahous gives us a detailed analysis of exactly how they crafted this measure to be, well, unmeasurable:
    Does this give readers a sense of deja vu? The block grants in Porkulus also assumed that states would simply lay off teachers and first responders as a result of large-scale budget deficits in the throes of the Great Recession. That’s where jobs “saved and created” originated; Obama and his team meant public-sector employees in states and local governments. Only those organizations employ a lot more people than just teachers, police officers, and fire fighters; most states have vast bureaucracies that ended up getting “saved” thanks to the infusion of cash that allowed legislatures to put off tough decisions on the size and nature of government during the economic crisis.

    Well, the acute economic crisis is over. What’s the excuse for procrastination now? Instead of having the states take responsibility for tough budget decisions, Obama wants to let states like Illinois and California off the hook by forcing other states to subsidize their bad budgeting decisions. Why? Take a look at the recent history of the Electoral College for one reason, and the fact that most of these bureaucrats belong to public-employee unions like SEIU and AFCSME for another reason. That’s what Obama is “supporting.” Let’s recall the extensive reporting in 2009 that showed that jobs “saved or created” were a myth, even in the public sector:
  8. Ricter


    I've always known myself that the "stimulus didn't work" claim was not entirely true, since my company made a $8-million sale thanks to it. That sale saved, for a time, around 400 FTEs.

    "Instead of having the states take responsibility for tough budget decisions, Obama wants to let states like Illinois and California off the hook by..." There's a reason we call ourselves the United States of America.