In the summer of 2008, revving up for the general-election campaign against John McCain, Barack Obama raised some eyebrows by telling a group of Philadelphians: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” He wasn’t talking about fundraising specifically—he was emphasizing his ability to give a punch as well as take it—but he might as well have been: Obama also dismayed some supporters by eschewing the public financing system to make sure he had more than enough artillery ($750 million, in fact) to fend off the Republicans that year.
Conservatives spent Monday being outraged about the Chrysler Super Bowl ad featuring Clint Eastwood. They were upset that the great Western hero and former Republican would highlight Detroit manufacturing, which they argued was an implicit endorsement of Obama's policies. “I was, frankly, offended by it,” Karl Rove said on Fox News. “I'm a huge fan of Clint Eastwood. I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising."
While it’s hard to make a bad advertisement with Clint Eastwood, this would be good even without “The Man With No Name.” The basic message is straightforward— it’s “halftime in America.” Yes, the country suffered a major setback four years ago, but we have the strength and reserve to press forward on the current path and succeed.
At the same time that liberals have praised President Obama for his embrace of populist rhetoric, mainstream pundits have attacked him for “divisiveness.” In October, David Brooks criticized Obama’s newfound populism as “misguided”—“It repels independents,” he wrote—and more recently, William Galston warned that his focus on inequality “may well reduce his chances of prevailing in a close race.”
If there was a single moment in this campaign in which a candidate declared, "Here's a position that almost every American will find completely insane, but I'm taking it because Barack Obama sucks," it would have to be the time in one of the debates when Rick Perry declared that not only was he bummed that the Iraq war was over, but "I would send troops back to Iraq." Even his Republican opponents obviously thought that was crazy.
The competition is stiff, but there may be no more abused word in political discourse than “populism.” (“pop·u·lism. A political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against the privileged elite.”) It came in for a special flogging today, as pundits groped for ways to describe President Obama’s eloquent-but-mishmashy State of the Union address. Even The Hollywood Gossip was asking, “Will Populist Message Help Obama?” The answer is that it certainly could—if he had one.
President Barack Obama delineated his campaign message in last night's State of the Union address. Positioning himself as a populist alternative to Mitt Romney and the 1 percent, Obama spent the beginning of his speech laying out his economic plan for the year: "We need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of Members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes," he said. He recommended that the Buffett Rule—which would make it so millionaires can't pay less than 30 percent in taxes—be put in place.
Obama gave his 2012 State of the Union address last night, and all the eyes in the media and political world were tuned in. During the address, 766,681 SOTU-centric tweets were fired off, with 548 coming from inside the chamber. Despite the frenzy that takes over news rooms and congressional offices, the rest of the nation was more likely watching TheReal Housewives of Atlanta or Wizards of Waverly Place.
As we watch the Republican primary come down to a contest between (to caricature for a moment) a fight between the flip-flopping, wooden, private equity gazillionaire and the repellent, philandering, pompous influence-peddler, Democrats can't quite figure out who they want to win this race. On one hand, the path to Barack Obama beating Mitt Romney is absolutely clear: he's the candidate of the 1 percent whose lust for power will lead him to say anything to anyone. On the other hand, it's harder to tell what an anti-Newt Gingrich campaign would be like, since there are so many awful things about him to attack. But this makes me wonder: Is this how Republicans felt four years ago?
After months in which the Republican candidates for president have dominated the nation’s political discourse—likely, to their own detriment— President Barack Obama retook center stage last night with a State of the Union address that was the overture to his own re-election campaign. His theme was the indispensability of collective action—of national purposes advanced by public commitments to such mega-goals as the reindustrialization of America, with the burdens and rewards shared equitably by all.
As part of an effort to push "insourcing," President Obama is proposing tax incentives for companies that move manufacturing jobs back to the United States. “I don’t want America to be a nation that’s primarily known for financial speculation, and racking up debt and buying stuff from other nations,” Obama said during an announcement yesterday.
As we watch Republicans give a collective "Meh" to their contenders for president, I thought it might be a good time for a trip down memory lane. Four years ago, Barack Obama won the Iowa caucus and delivered what may be his best speech ever. Take a quick gander and remember those heady days:
Does it still give you shivers? I always felt that the most compelling thing about Obama's campaign rhetoric was how he brought the listener into his own epic story. Let me revisit what I wrote at the time: