The president personalizes, polarizes and destroys.
Now that President Obama is running behind that powerhouse candidate Generic Republican in polls by a margin of 42 to 46 percent, now that the President is issuing letters to his supporters pathetically claiming “We measure our success not in dollars but in people,” now that his supporters are openly talking about his shortcomings, he has brought out his most powerful weapon: he is calling conservatives poopheads.
“If we do not have revenues,” Obama said in arguing for raising taxes during a press conference on Wednesday, “that means there are a bunch of kids out there who do not have college scholarships … It means we might not be funding critical medical research. It means food inspection might be compromised. I’ve said to Republican leaders, ‘You go talk to your constituents an ask them, “Are you willing to compromise your kids’ safety so some corporate-jet owner can get a tax break?”’”
Obama mentioned jet ownership five more times during his press conference, as though those who own jets were some sort of sadists grinding up street urchins to serve as fuel. “I think it would be hard for the Republicans to stand there and say that, ‘The tax break for corporate jets is sufficiently important that we’re not willing to come to the table,’” he said. Then he followed up by saying that Republicans wanted to pay interest to China but didn’t want to “pay folks their Social Security checks.”
To make this exercise in absurdism even more ridiculous, Obama then called Republicans lazy Welfare queens. “They took the vacation,” he said. “They bought the car. And now they’re saying, ‘Maybe we don’t have to pay’ … We’re the greatest nation on Earth and we can’t act that way.”
Excuse me? This is the same president who golfs every Sunday. This is the same president who vacations on a regular basis at the world’s most expensive resorts. This is the same man who says that American exceptionalism is the same as British or Greek exceptionalism.
And more than any of that, this is the man who has skyrocketed the debt and written checks America can’t pay.
But facts don’t matter anymore. All that matters is the label.
This is why Republicans must run a candidate who is recognizable to the American people, someone with a defined record, someone who cannot be painted as mean and heartless and cruel. Believe it or not, the tried and true Democratic “call ‘em poophead” strategy is surprisingly successful. It worked in 2008, when Obama and Co. painted John McCain – heretofore the New York Times’ favorite Republican – as an old meanie who wanted to drop his fellow elderly into an alligator tank. It worked in 1996, when Bill Clinton painted Bob Dole as a cruel man who sought to slice and dice those reliant on Welfare.
No Republican has won the presidency without significant name recognition entering primary season since Warren G. Harding in 1920. That is because Republicans have to face down Democrats’ constant attacks on their personhood, attacks are made more effective because the Republican platform is supposed to be personal responsibility and aspirational performance standards, while the Democratic platform is handouts, pure and simple. The only way for Republicans to win is to make it widely known to the American public prior to their demonization that they are good and decent human beings.
President Obama’s only hope, by contrast, is to personalize, polarize, and destroy. It’s pure Alinsky, and it will work unless Republicans nominate someone so honest and eminently kind that Obama’s criticism seems as foolish as it clearly is. The poophead strategy should fail, but only if Republicans get their heads out of their posteriors long enough to realize that they need to nominate someone known and loved rather than unknown and unloved.
Ben Shapiro is an attorney and writer and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, and author of the upcoming book “Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How The Left Took Over Your TV” from Broadside Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.