It all comes full circle.
Last September, Elizabeth Warren explained the role of public institutions in creating a society that allows American businesses to thrive. A video of the comments went viral, and soon after, President Obama echoed the sentiment.
Last week, Mitt Romney’s campaign, hoping that voters are fools, made the case that American businesses thrive on their own without public institutions, and to believe otherwise is to be “foreign” and hostile towards free enterprise. And this week, Scott Brown’s campaign, hoping voters in Massachusetts are extremely dumb, brings the smear back around to Elizabeth Warren.
In his new web video, Brown reassures, “I will never demonize you as business leaders and business owners.” Can he find anyone who actually demonizes business leaders? Well, no, but if you take rivals’ comments out of context and cynically hope that voters are deeply ignorant, Brown and Romney – who share campaign strategists – hope the lie will stick anyway.
Greg Sargent calls the larger smear “ridiculous.”
The Republican argument – Romney’s argument – is partly that Obama’s active ill will towards business owners and entrepreneurs is helping stall the recovery, so you should replace him with a president who wants people to succeed.
There is a separate policy dispute under way, too – Republicans insist that deregulation and tax reform that will cut taxes for the rich further are the way to speed the recovery, while Obama says more government investment is necessary. But Republicans have decided the policy difference isn’t enough. They also need to blame Obama’s alleged intentions and hostility towards private enterprise and individual initiative, to give voters a narrative about the Obama presidency and an explanation for the sluggish recovery that will make them more receptive to GOP tax and deregulatory policies they might otherwise greet with skepticism.
I think that’s absolutely right, but I’d add one related thought: shouldn’t this be a lot easier for Romney if Obama (or Elizabeth Warren, for that matter) is as hostile towards business as the president’s critics claim?
In other words, if Romney’s hysterical, right-wing argument had any merit at all, this should be fairly easy. Obama’s been in office for three-and-a-half years, and if the president were, in reality, actively opposed to the interests and needs of America’s private sector, the evidence should be overwhelming and undeniable.
And yet, it’s not. Romney – and now, Scott Brown – have to resort to garbage tactics that treat Americans voters like we’re idiots. Instead of presenting credible evidence to bolster absurd claims, Romney and Brown have to rely on out-of-context nonsense to make a case that their rivals believe in an agenda that’s pure fantasy.
If President Obama and Elizabeth Warren genuine oppose the free market – they don’t, but if they did – why do Mitt Romney and Scott Brown have to lie? Shouldn’t the truth be enough? If Democratic policy attitudes are so offensive, why not present them honestly to voters and let the public recoil?