Thursday, July 19, 2012

Infuriator in Chief

President Obama’s greatest talent seems to be his ability to infuriate his opponents. The latest example is the campaign speech he gave in Roanoke, Virginia last weekend. In that speech he declared, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” The Wall Street Journal opines that, “This burst of ideological candor is already resonating like nothing else Mr. Obama’s said in years.”

Of course, Obama’s explanation of how success happens is absurd, but that’s only part of the story. Also interesting are the motivations and consequences of his remarks. His view is much more than wrong, it is insulting, infuriating, and demeaning to a large portion of the populace.

Obama’s supporters may agree with the views he is expressing. His words may make them more enthusiastic in their support for him, make it more likely they will donate to his campaign, and show up to vote in November.

On the other hand, do those words cost him any votes? Those who are incensed by what he says probably weren’t going to vote for him anyway. When the people who are already angry enough to vote against him get even angrier, are there any consequences? Is he increasing the population of voters who are livid, or is the impact simply redundant?

Coaches tell their professional sports teams to measure their words when talking to sports reporters. They tell them not to say disrespectful things about their upcoming opponents, and not to say something that will end up on their opponents’ locker room bulletin boards. Providing extra motivation for your opponents is never a good idea.

There is a vast difference between Barak Obama’s public persona and his true nature. In other words, his public persona is a fraud. An inherent problem with a fraud is that it is not easy to sustain in the long run. There is a constant tension between the reality and the fraudulent image. An old adage says, “The truth is easy to remember.” The corollary of that is lies are hard to remember. Like bubbles, the truth tends to rise to the surface. What we saw in Roanoke is the real deal Obama. Now and again Obama actually delivers on his promise of transparency.

There is a degree of internal logic to Obama’s world view. In his Roanoke speech he said, “There are a lot of smart people out there — there are a whole bunch of smart people out there.” In other words, there’s no real difference among individuals, therefore, incomes and wealth ought to be equal.

Getting our arms around Barak Obama’s worldview is extremely difficult for those of us who don’t share it. We ask ourselves, how can anyone believe such things? But believe it he does, and the rest of us need to recognize that fact.

Obama is well known for his frequent use of argumentum strawmanium. He makes up grotesque caricatures of his opponents’ policy positions. Included in his Roanoke speech was, “There are some things, like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their [sic] own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.” Does he not recognize how insulting and condescending that sounds? Who in the world advocates having his own free-standing fire department? No one is that stupid. It speaks volumes about his opinion of his audience’s intelligence. Being talked down to that way is not a way to win friends and influence people. Obama is incapable of dealing with his opponents’ real arguments, so he describes them in absurd, cartoonish ways. It’s pathetic.

Barak Obama is unquestionably the most divisive U.S. president in modern history. People I never would have suspected have expressed to me an intense resentment and anger about what he has done to the country they love. Two wonderful ladies I know, both age 85, have for the first times in their lives become politically energized. I’m pretty sure neither one of these fine ladies have had this much political anger in all of their lives. I don’t think they are isolated examples. In November we will learn just how many voters share their feelings.


Infuriator in Chief July 19, 2012

Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former economics professor and author of The Unbeatable Market. Ron resides in Arcata, California and is a founder of Premier Financial Group, a wealth management firm located in Eureka, California. He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be reached at

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