Obama's Path to Victory: Divide and Conquer
I have good news and bad news. Actually, I don’t. What I have is the appearance of good news and the reality of bad news.
First what looks like the good news: The unemployment rate has dropped a tenth of a percentage point to 8.1. Now the bad news: Some of the decline has resulted from people leaving the work force, many of them frustrated because they haven’t been able to find a job in a very long time.
Here’s more bad news. The economy generated a measly 115,000 jobs in April instead of the expected 168,000. This could mean more of the same old sluggish economy ahead.
And here's something you won't hear from the White House: In April, the percentage of adults working or looking for work fell to the lowest level in more than 30 years. So if you add back all the people who have stopped looking for work you get a real unemployment rate of almost 15 percent.
Despite those numbers, as he campaigns for re-election, we can expect President Obama to take credit for the lower unemployment rate, leaving out the other inconvenient stuff -- and counting on the less sophisticated among us to buy his story. But by and large the president won’t be running on his record of turning the crummy economy around, mainly because he hasn’t, and too many voters know it.
More than anything else, this president who once vowed to bring us together will spend his time trying to tear us apart, to split us into groups and then pit us against each other. At his party’s convention four years ago, he seduced the nation by so eloquently telling us there is “not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.” So much for soaring rhetoric. That was then.
This time around Mr. Obama will be running as the war president. There is the war on women and the war on minorities and the war on college kids and the war on the wealthy. They’re all phony wars, of course, but Mr. Obama is counting on the votes of people who don’t really pay attention.
Some Americans didn’t want to pay for Sandra Fluke’s birth control pills, hence the war on women.
Some Americans think the law should require photo IDs in order to vote, in order to minimize fraud. This, in reality, the president’s party tells us, is a cynical, racist ploy to make it more difficult for blacks and Hispanics to vote. Hence the war on minorities.
President Obama goes on a tour of America’s colleges and tells the students that he’s the one who wants to keep their student loan rates low while those mean Republicans might double it if they get the chance. Never mind that with Mr. Obama in the White House a lot of college kids can’t find jobs after they graduate and are moving in with Mommy and Daddy and living in the same bedroom they slept in when they were ten.
And, of course there’s the war on the top 1 percent. Mr. Obama has done the math and concluded that 99 is a bigger number than 1; that there is political advantage – or at least he hopes there is – in telling the American people that the top one percent aren’t paying “their fair share.” Hey, pandering to the middle class can’t hurt, right?
Four years ago, Mr. Obama rode into Washington on that magic carpet of hopes and dreams. Now he's at the wheel of a garbage truck. Because now he understands that a lot of the people who swooned over him then, aren’t swooning so much today. So he has to energize them. And what better way than sowing seeds of resentment? Now, the president who was going to bring us together in post-partisan America, just wants to win re-election. And if he has to throw his lofty principles under the bus and turn Americans against each other in the process, so be it. A small price, he figures, for such an important accomplishment.