Last night on Greta Van Susteren, Rep. Allen West took a bit of grief for his tone in referring to the president as showing the arrogance of a third-world dictator.
West didn’t back down from that statement at all, and he referenced one of the more disgraceful occurrences in American politics in recent years – the fact that Obama had Rep. Paul Ryan, fresh off his presentation of the Republicans’ 2012 budget, seated in the first row for a speech in which Obama issued a direct political attack on his competence and good faith.
Obama’s rhetoric since then hasn’t been any more conciliatory. He has treated the country to the prospect of autistic children being put out into the street, dead senior citizens and other cataclysmic possibilities as a result of Republican “cruelty” during a two-week running campaign tirade, at a time when America is running headlong against the country’s debt ceiling.
Some observers call this “just politics,” as Obama’s approval ratings are badly sagging in the wake of skyrocketing oil and gasoline prices and Standard & Poor’s having downgraded its forecast for the American economy last week. The administration is seizing on polling which says the country might be interested in higher taxes on rich people, and Obama is therefore clutching class warfare as a political life raft.
But that’s the stump-speech portion of the president’s demagogic offensive. There’s more.
Ed Lasky, writing at the American Thinker today, covers the fact that Obama has now directed his Justice Department to commence an investigation into the “speculators” who are driving oil prices higher, as though the runup was somehow unforeseeable and irrational. Obama’s flunkies Ken Salazar and Michael Bromwich have both been caught in out-and-out lies to the effect that domestic oil production in the Gulf of Mexico is at an all-time high when in fact it has been rapidly dropping off since last May due to his moratorium/permitorium on oil exploration. The way oil drilling works is, when you strike oil after drilling a well you’re going to generate peak production almost immediately and it’s going to drop off relatively quickly from there. To maintain or increase aggregate production, you’ve got to constantly drill new wells. Which is precisely what the president prevented the oil industry from doing from May 2010 to March of this year.
And while American production has stagnated and declined on Obama’s watch, the Middle East has exploded in revolution. Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria – it’s impossible to have civil unrest on that scale without a market response. Add to that the fact Nigeria is in the midst of a major spate of violence as Muslims in the northern part of the country are rampaging in response to having lost an election, and the problem gets worse. Throw in declining production in Mexico and Venezuela, and frankly it’s a miracle things aren’t worse.
But no. As Lasky writes, the administration’s story is it must be some greedy capitalist’s fault that fuel prices are on the rise…
By definition, “traders and speculators” are in it for short term gain. That’s their modus operandi. They are not “taking advantage of the American consumer” so much as they are operating within a volatile market and taking advantage of market conditions.
But since the entire administration has an economics IQ of below 65, what is actually normal market activity becomes evil and bad – and politically advantageous when the president can blame someone else for his own rotten energy policies.
Meanwhile, Obama’s National Labor Relations Board has engaged in the bizarre action of attempting to define Boeing as in violation of federal law for its decision to open a second production line of its 787 Dreamliner to South Carolina amid a history of strikes in Washington. The International Association of Machinists, the union with whom Boeing has had a terrible time and is seeking to avoid as the company expands, alleged that opening production in non-union states somehow denies workers the right to strike. In any other administration, such an allegation would have been laughed out of existence, but in this one it finds purchase.
As RealClearPolitics.com’s Tom Bevan notes, the NLRB’s decision along with Obama’s having stoked the fires in Wisconsin over the last two months sets up a white-hot political fight between the federal government and the unions on one side and states and the private sector on another.
Earlier this year Obama sought to smooth over his relations with the business community, giving a well received address to the Chamber of Commerce on February 7. But just one week later, Obama called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget plan “an assault on unions,” while his grassroots organization and political allies kicked off the fight on behalf of public unions which continues to rage today.
Unlike Wisconsin, however, the battle in South Carolina is unions and the federal government pitted against private business and “right to work” states. At stake is whether unions have the power to effectively veto companies’ decisions about where they choose to do business.
Also unlike Wisconsin, South Carolina is a critical – some would even argue determinative – early primary state in the Republican presidential nominating process, which is just getting under way. Some, but not all, of the prospective Republican presidential hopefuls are scheduled be in South Carolina in less than two weeks for the first televised debate of the primary season, hosted by Fox News.
Use the class-warfare rhetoric to demonize Republicans and the rich. Blame Wall Street and Big Oil for high fuel prices. Rig the game for unions against business while paying lip service to the need for new jobs.
All that’s left is to stoke racism, right?
Wait – we have that, too.
The Obama Justice Department which is engaged in attacking “speculators” for the high oil prices his policies have directly contributed to and which had no interest in doing anything when thugs armed with night sticks camped out at voting booths to hurl racial epithets and threats of violence against people attempting to vote, has camped out in Louisiana to investigate whether welfare offices in the Bayou State are registering people on the dole as voters with sufficient vigor. Suspicious, then, that on Wednesday the NAACP filed suit against the state, alleging that its failure to gin up voters at welfare offices violates the Motor Voter Act. Joining the suit? Obama’s old friends at Project Vote.
Pajamas Media’s Christian Adams, a veteran of the Justice Department’s Voting Rights section who earned notoriety for blowing the whistle on DOJ’s refusal to prosecute the New Black Panther case referenced above, says the NAACP suit stinks to high heaven.
The question is whether the Jindal administration will aggressively fight back, or roll over. There are ways to win these cases outright. The fact that the Department of Justice and the NAACP are both investigating the same issue in the same place betrays either a measure of coordination, communication or, less likely, simple happenstance. Welfare recipient voter registration is a top priority of the political leadership in the Civil Rights Division. Ensuring dead and ineligible voters are removed from the voter rolls is not a priority. If the NAACP case is based entirely on registration statistics, and not actual interviews, that’s where the DOJ investigation will be useful to the plaintiff, because DOJ trolled outside welfare agencies interviewing recipients as part of their investigation. In other words, the taxpayers supported the tough and expensive part of the NAACP case.
Can it be proved that the administration, or Obama himself, is behind the NAACP suit? Not at this time. But Adams isn’t crazy for connecting the dots between “my people” Holder and the NAACP and Project Vote on a subject both are investigating. Clearly the Motor Voter suit is aimed at branding a prominent Obama adversary – Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal – as a racist in advance of this fall’s statewide election cycle, and demonizing/discrediting political opponents without addressing their opinions on the merits is Standard Operating Procedure for the Obama administration this spring. A suit making Jindal out to be a racist because his welfare offices aren’t signing up enough poor people to vote Democrat certainly plays into that M.O.
This will get worse. The debt-ceiling issue is an even higher-stakes budget fight than the budget CR showdown was, and Obama will have to give more ground than he did in that last episode. By a 63-27 margin, the American people aren’t interested in raising the debt ceiling, so Republicans will be emboldened to trade hard for any movement on the issue. Obama has shown himself to be a disinterested negotiator at best, so he’s going to appear weak to his base just as he did in the fight over the Bush tax rates in the lame-duck session and the budget CR fight. In both cases, demagoguery and tough talk followed the rollover at the negotiating table. Obama is likely to lose again, and his response will almost certainly be to ramp up the demagoguery against Republicans, the Tea Party, “the rich,” corporate America, the red-state South or whatever other bogeymen can be found to stoke up his 2008 electoral coalition.