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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

David Axelrod Speech

Being at Hopkins, I had the opportunity to attend a speech by Obama's former Campaign Adviser David Axelrod yesterday. I found his speech interesting because it will probably be a good foretaste of the message Obama will tout on the campaign trail in 2012. He began his talk by thanking us all for our work in getting Obama elected in 2008, saying that "without young people like you, he wouldn't be president right now". Then, he used that same rhetorical device to credit us, and thus Obama, with the following accomplishments, saying "without you, we never would have...":
  • "Restrored the student loan program
  • Ended the Iraq war
  • Repealed DADT
  • Advanced stem-cell research
  • Appointed 2 women on the Supreme Court
  • Enacted Wall Street Reforms
  • "forced Bank of America to publicize, and consequently repeal, it's new fees on debit cards"
  • Passed ObamaCare
  • A deeper recession was avoided
  • "We refocused our attention on the people who actually attacked us", and therefore got Bin Laden
It's interesting that he cited the end of the Iraq War when he didn't want to end it until a month ago when the Iraqi government threatened to prosecute any US soldiers who remained. It's also interesting that he cited "refocusing our attention on those who attacked us" after we jumped into Libya and Yemen. And of course, the economic recovery talk will fall on deaf ears if we're headed for a double-dip recession, which many economists forecast. But regardless, these two themes will probably summarize his primary domestic and foreign policy resume for 2012: as one observer dubbed it, "GM is alive and Bin Laden is dead."

He also consistently reiterated another theme that I'm sure will resurface many times: "the politics of obstruction and division". He blasted the Republican party for intentionally trying to harm the country for political gain by stopping anything Obama proposed. Any who weren't trying to harm the country to help their electoral chances, he said, were too scared by the majority to "do the right thing". Just like Obama, he assumed that everyone on earth knew what "the right thing" was, and that it was whatever Obama proposed! Anyone who opposed the self-annointed "progress" must just be evil, there's no way anyone could possibly disagree.

If that doesn't make you roll your eyes, Obama's sudden talk of compromise should. Seeing the highly partisan nature of the conservative race, Obama will continually try to portray himself as a centrist whose tried to reach out to Republicans who just won't listen. He will then try to shift the blame from himself onto their unwillingness to do so. But if voters are smart, they'll remember how Obamacare passed through without a single Republican vote, and the President seem to care much for compromise then. If Republicans are smart, they'll remind him.

Axelrod also touched on the faction within the Republican party I spoke of yesterday. I called those factions the Tea Party and  "the Romney supporters", but I thought he had a brilliant and catchy new name for the second group: "the Martini Party". He described the Tea Party as the "populist" part of the Republican party, and the Martini Party as the "corporate centrist conservatives", which is code for the status-quo supporters who benefit from crony-capitalism. It's a useful term for Democrats because it portrays them as wealthy fat-cats, and a useful term for Tea Partiers because it illuminates the government regulation of some companies to the benefit of others. That connection between big government and big business is the thing that both the Tea Party and the OWS crowd hates, and the "Martini Party" tag isolates that group. We'll see if it sticks, and if it does, we'll see how Romney tries to talk his way out of the association.

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