President Obama's much-ballyhooed speech in Osawatomie, Kan., was his best effort to put a happy face on class warfare. Though some were elated, fantasizing that he might be getting his messianic mojo back, even his reliable cheerleaders recognize there's no substance beneath the hot air rising.
Liberals get all dewy-eyed when Obama reverts to idealistic tones, as they are saps for perfect-world scenarios that never materialize. They love it when he co-opts history in service to their cause. So he traveled to Kansas seeking to identify with Teddy Roosevelt, the icon of rugged individualism, to lambast the evils of rugged individualism.
Obama misdiagnosed the problems facing America, distorted the historical record, set up straw men to excoriate, and conflated history and principles, all to demonize his opponents, divert scrutiny from his record, and build support for his cause. He offered no concrete solutions, only low-minded platitudes, because everything he's tried has failed and he has nothing left to try.
He views the national economy as a zero-sum game in which the success of some means the misery of others. He sees unequal distribution of income and wealth as a pervasive evil -- an evil caused by the most sinister of boogeymen: unregulated capitalism.
Before unpacking these themes, shouldn't we ask what they have to do with the economic stagnation we're currently experiencing? It's one thing to lament societal disparities in income and wealth, as liberals hostage to a materialistic worldview always do. But the problems are that the economy has stalled, an alarming number of people are out of work, an increasing number of able-bodied citizens are dependent on government assistance, and people, mired in malaise and uncertainty and the turmoil of a divisive president, aren't saving, investing or consuming.
Our economic problems are not caused by Obama's boogeyman -- which doesn't exist in reality -- and they won't be fixed by shooting a dematerializer at that conjured apparition. Even if income and asset inequality were the greatest problems, Obama's policies have not alleviated them, but made them worse.
In his speech, Obama implied that the free market system, responsible for the most economically successful society in world history, didn't work until it was tweaked by progressives, who jacked up tax rates for the wealthy. That not only defies the historical record but also suggests that but for liberals, we'd have a lawless, brutal, survival-of-the-fittest economic anarchy. In fact, conservatives don't promote a market untempered by the rule of law or regulated by fair business practices and antitrust laws.