The Obama of 2008 is long gone. Pres. Obama is taking a page from FDR’s 1936 business bashing, class warfare reelection campaign, and getting rough. Obama has abandoned every appeal to independents and moderates in favor of shoring up his left-wing base. Clearly Obama is a professional politician, but the numbers just don’t seem to add up to a 2012 victory.
Obama has provided worthwhile paybacks to his base. The environmental left can look to his shutting down older coal mines along with EPA plans to effectively outlaw all new coal plants. The Keystone XL pipeline will not break ground this year, regardless of Congress’s recent efforts to break the Obama logjam. The DOE has wasted billions of dollars in loan guarantees and grants on ‘green’ energy projects, most of which happened to go to Obama donors.
Big labor may not approve of the environmental left’s opposition to Keystone, but Obama has delivered to this base too. The NLRB has accomplished much of Card Check’s objectives by arbitrarily changing unionizing rules to favor big labor. His recent, perhaps illegal, appointment of three labor lawyers to the NLRB cements the board’s power to force unionization. The NLRB v. Boeing SC factory lawsuit turned out to be nothing more than a strong-arm tactic to force Boeing into a favorable union contract unrelated to the 787.
The trial lawyers can also thank Obama. The Dodd-Frank law is ripe ground for suing when anybody is either denied a credit card or is granted one and then cannot pay. Obamacare does absolutely nothing to stop the gravy train of suing whenever a doctor delivers less than a miracle. The trial lawyers would be fools not to support Obama.
African Americans can look to AG Holder’s hyper-divisive racial rhetoric. Blacks are the Dems’ most reliable base, yet Obama is placating them with words and gestures. Calling the GOP racist over voter ID laws costs nothing, and benefits nobody, yet it is red meat to the base. In exchange for over 95% voter compliance blacks should ask for something more concrete, but Obama knows their vote is secure anyway.
Of course Obama’s class warfare is on display to rally the social justice crowd. These unconscious Marxists love it when Obama pretends that taxing ‘the rich’ is the solution to $1.5 trillion deficits. Hollywood and media types are the Dem PR base, and Obama’s demagoguery is sweet nectar for the jealous / guilt ridden crowd.
The one group Obama no longer speaks to is independents. Most independents want economic opportunity and an answer to how the US government will pay its bills. Moderate voters want small steps, not radicalism. As Reason’s Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch argue, voters have distanced themselves from party affiliation. GOP registration has always lagged the Dems, but the gap has narrowed due to more independents dumping the Dem label than the GOP. In 2008, Obama won the independent vote by 8 points, but that margin may reverse in 2012.
Obama has all but abandoned the independent vote. His anti-business, anti-rich rhetoric may be shoring up his base, but at the expense of alienating independents. A Presidential candidate cannot win solely with his base; independents are too many to ignore. Perhaps Obama will eventually tack center, but most likely Obama is a hardened ideologue who will pursue European socialism because he truly believes it is what Americans want. Unless Obama softens, the key to his reelection is best gauged not by overall approval, but by where he stands with independents, and that is looking doubtful.
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