In his speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, President Obama took another stab at summarizing the philosophy of the Republican Party. And this is the best Obama could do: “Their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.”
This is a silly and intentionally misleading statement — silly because it’s so transparently false and intentionally misleading because the president surely cannot believe his own rhetoric. The problem for Obama is it’s becoming a pattern. Earlier this year, he charged that Republicans want the elderly, autistic children and children with Down syndrome to “fend for themselves.”
After that, he told us the GOP plan is ”dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance.” Given his rhetorical trajectory, Obama will soon be insisting that Republicans favor reinstituting slavery at home and genocide abroad (or perhaps it’s favoring genocide at home and slavery abroad).
These are the kinds of things a politically desperate and intellectually bankrupt politician says. The president must believe he cannot win a debate on philosophy on the merits, so he instead employs the crudest caricatures he can.
President Obama has tried — desperately, and far beyond the point at which it made any kind of sense — to reach out across the partisan divide. He has bent over backwards to be nice to bankers. He has clearly been uncomfortable with any kind of populist rhetoric, although that may finally be changing.
And his reward for all that is that Mitt Romney describes him as a full-on Marxist, from each according to his ability to each according to his needs:
[Obama] seeks to replace our merit-based society with an entitlement society. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people to enjoy truly disproportionate rewards are the people who do the redistributing — the government.
Reality just doesn’t matter here — which is why Obama might as well reach out to his base instead of the unreachable right.
Romney and Obama, and for that matter Krugman and Wehner, deserve each other.