Here's an example of why no Democrat or President Obama should ever look to the likes of someone like Michael Gerson for advice on what makes for good campaign messaging. While discussing President Obama now campaigning on raising taxes on the rich, here was some of Gerson's input after Chris Matthews asked him whether he thought it would hurt or help the president in the upcoming election, given that he's “now seen as the guy taking sides against the rich, he says aren't paying taxes.”
GERSON: I'll tell you what. I think the problem is not that he's being to harsh on the rich. I think the problem is he's being irrelevant to the only debate in American politics, which is growth and job creation. He had an anemic plan he brought forward that was largely recycled stuff and then even swamped that plan with now class warfare rhetoric.
People are concerned with Europe in economic decline, with the possibility of a second dip of an American recession. How do we get growth back in this economy? The president's not even speaking to this issue.
After some of the panel acknowledging that anything President Obama has proposed to try to get our economy back on track has been knocked down by Republicans and Chris Matthews talking about how some fairness in our tax system has finally gotten the progressive base animated and supportive of what they're hearing from the president, Matthews went to his “Matthews Meter” for the week, the question being whether “tax the rich” will get Obama votes in 2012. Three of them agreed that it was a smart move that were on the panel this week. Naturally, Gerson disagreed and then pulled out the angry black man card, or if not that, at least the heaven forbid anyone should be angry about the real class warfare we've seen waged on the poor and middle class card.
GERSON: But I think Obama's basic problem here, political problem, is changing his narrative completely. He ran the last time as the candidate of hope, inclusion, progress. Now he's running as the candidate of anger and redistribution. That's not a particularly good Democratic message.
As Andrew Sullivan rightfully pointed out, a large part of the reason the president has finally resorted to just calling out Republicans instead of continuing to try to work with them was because Republicans have obstructed everything President Obama has tried to do and he can't keep running on the meme of bipartisanship because he “looks like Lucy with the football.”
Can I just say amen to Andrew Sullivan here with that statement and for pointing out to Gerson how ridiculous it is to say that President Obama should continue to pretend that Republicans are ever going to work with him on anything. Most of us on the left have been tired of the President continuing to pretend like the Republicans were not the obstructionists they obviously showed themselves to be quite a long time ago, but Gerson apparently thinks it's still worth beating that dead horse here.
Note to Michael Gerson. It's exactly a good Democratic message that we've got horrible income disparity in the United States and asking the rich to pay their fair share and a call for some “shared sacrifice” is a message any Democratic candidate should be running on rather than asking for more austerity measures and tax breaks for the rich, which is apparently the Republican's only plan to supposedly create jobs.
The Republicans' economic policies are nothing but a race to the bottom for what's left of our dwindling middle class and American workers and Gerson's message here pretty well resonates with one group of people, and that's the far right of the Republican Party. And they're not going to do anything to help President Obama get reelected no matter what he says on the campaign trail.