Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dionne On The Conventions

The idea that Obama is anti-business is absurd (look at the Dow Jones averages) and needs to be refuted. But more important is challenging both Tampa premises. The United States was built not only by business people but also by those who “labor in the oil and gas fields, mines and mills,” and by the “hands that work in restaurants and hotels, in hospitals, banks, and grocery stores.” The words of Rick Santorum, Romney’s former rival, were among the few spoken in Tampa that acknowledged the priority of labor. It’s a theme Democrats should embrace.
And Obama will have to return unapologetically to the theme of his inartfully cast but philosophically sound “You didn’t build that” speech. American government — through student loans, the GI Bill, the interstate highway system and so many other measures — has always been primarily about opportunity, investment and enterprise, not dependency. For Obama, winning this argument is a precondition to winning the election.
EJ Dionne makes an essential point.  One of the advantages of incumbency is that you go second in making your scripted pitch to the electorate.  
Obama has a huge advantage in likability and "Cares for people like me/understands people like me."  He is not trying to win the plutocrats votes, he's trying to win middle class votes.  All he has to do is win 40% of the white vote and he wins the election.  
So he gets to re-argue two points: the essential necessity of the social contract and the essential role of the middle class.  You will hear a lot about community and the commonwealth in Charlotte.  You will hear a lot about the basic role of government in a complex world.  
I think it's a compelling message, of course.  I would.  But the idea that "workers built that" is a nice rhetorical counterpoint to "I built that".  
Finally, Obama needs a message that can soar.  Romney's speech was - unsurprisingly - poorly received for a convention speech.  Obama can deliver a speech that raises the roofbeams, if he has a message that can resonate. 
Plus, having Bill Clinton give a speech is usually a plus when it comes to making a complicated argument.
Just - for God's sake - triple fact check everything.  The press is eager to the point of desperate to write "both sides lie" stories.

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