Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Obama makes Bullmoose noises, draws line in sand

“You ain't shot!” - William Munny to the writer of “letters and such,” W.W. Beauchamp, Little Bill's biographer, in “Unforgiven”

Osawatomie, Kansas – The message from the White House is simple enough, a line drawn in the soil of a highly conservative prairie state that votes Republican as a matter of routine.

Join us or abandon your hopes of ever reaching that coveted plateau known as the middle class, the place where you own your home, provide for your retirement, and educate your children to live on in that hallowed ground.

Calling on the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt's failed third party populist run at the Presidency on the Bullmoose ticket in 1912, President Barack Hussein Obama borrowed a play from the 99% OccupyWallSt protesters' little black book.

He called attention to the fact that the average earnings for the nation's top income producers has risen by more than 250 percent to a total of $1.2 million a year.

Drawing a line in the sand, the President portrayed those who stand on the right as defenders of the “breathtaking greed” of a small elite. Those who stand with him to the left of that line he characterized as crusaders for “whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement.”

Described by “The New York Times” as a “hardscrabble town of 4,500 people, about 50 miles south of Kansas City, Kansas,” Osawatomie is considered symbolic of the prairie populism that inspired the Bullmoose Party, the place where President Theodore Roosevelt first laid out the “New Nationalism” in a speech reported far and wide.

It was a speech made in reaction to the use of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to break up what the former President considered the “good trust” formed by U.S. Steel, a consortium owned by J.P. Morgan.

In his speech given from deep within Red State enemy territory, Mr. Obama proposed a further payroll tax cut from an already reduced 4.2 percent to 3.1 percent – a move the Republicans have been blocking because it includes a 1.9 percent surtax on those who earn more than $1 million per year in modified adjusted gross income.

The tax will revert back to 6.2 percent in January if Congress takes no action.

The choice of launching his new battle cry in Kansas, characterized by Timesman A.G. Sulzberger as “one of the most reliably Republican states in the country,” is an indication that the President and his advisers have found a way to be “increasingly confident that they have found a message that resonates with voters.”

The logic employed is this.

Mr. Obama's strategists believe that even before the Obama Administration's current economic troubles, Republican policies aimed at reducing the size and scope of government through the Reaganomic formula of tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation of Wall Street trading and banking practices have steadily eroded the ground where the middle class lives and breathes.

Said Mr. Obama, “Fewer and fewer of the folks who contributed to the success of our economy actually benefited from that success. Those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and investments than ever before. But everyone else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren’t — and too many families found themselves racking up more and more debt.”

In his hour-long address, Mr. Obama repeatedly referred to President Roosevelt's message of so long ago, in which he outlined a conflict between “the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess...

“For this, Roosevelt was called a radical, he was called a socialist, even a communist.”

The third party President Roosevelt formed in his 1912 bid to unseat his hand-picked successor, the former Secretary of War, President William Howard Taft, was called the Bull Moose Party because of an assassination attempt made upon him as he prepared to give a campaign speech at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

After a would-be assassin fired a bullet that lodged in his chest, he boasted to newsmen covering the event, "I'm fit as a bull moose."

He went on to give the speech before allowing doctors to remove the bullet.

Though he was highly successful in the primary elections, historians agree that the former President was unable to obtain the nomination because Mr. Taft controlled the Republican Party apparatus so important to getting out the vote.

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