A Further Perspective

Pick Your Poison: Culture War or Class War?

That's what Obama and Axelrod have in mind this reelection season.

By 2.28.12

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Would you prefer Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney to run against Obama? Well, it depends on whether you prefer to engage Obama on cultural grounds or on terms of class warfare. Obama and David Axelrod are going to give us one or the other. Thus, maybe the better question is: Can Santorum articulate and defend social conservatism better than Romney can defend free markets? Which of the two is a more forceful, eloquent spokesperson for the area that Obama and Axelrod will use to define and malign him?

As I noted here a few weeks ago, not only has Obama been pushing class warfare unceasingly for three years now, but his chief strategist, David Axelrod, has been scheming precisely such an assault against Romney. "Obama officials intend to frame Romney as the very picture of greed in the great recession -- a sort of political Gordon Gekko," reported an August 2011 Politico piece titled, "Obama plan: Destroy Romney." The piece quoted Axelrod: "He [Romney] was very, very good at making a profit for himself and his partners but not nearly as good [at] saving jobs for communities. He is very much the profile of what we've seen in the last decade on Wall Street."

This was the plan even before Occupy Wall Street exploded. Axelrod and Obama view Mitt Romney as red meat for the Occupy movement, the poster-boy for Wall Street greed.

"[Romney] says he represents business," Axelrod told MSNBC in October, "but he really represents the Wall Street side of business."

Axelrod told George Stephanopoulos that Romney is "not a job creator" but a "corporate raider" who outsourced "tens of thousands of jobs," "closed down more than 1,000 plants, stores, and offices," and joined "his partners" in making "hundreds of millions of dollars" at the expense of the poor. Axelrod calls this the "Bain mentality."

This poisonous rhetoric is just a taste of the buckets of class bilge to come if Romney gets the GOP nomination. The vitriol will get far worse. And no one will do it better and more happily than a smiling Obama, joyfully sowing seeds of class envy and hatred. Deadly sin as a core campaign tactic.

Perhaps the only thing that might please this prophet of "hope" more would be a good old fashioned crusade against the Catholic Church over "contraception." And that's where Rick Santorum comes in.

I'm increasingly convinced that Obama wants this battle with the Catholic Church over contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing pharmaceuticals. I think this is a fight not only close to Obama's ideological heart, but one he perversely feels can help him politically. If he can frame this debate as not about taxpayer support of abortion drugs, or religious liberty, or freedom of conscience, or the First Amendment and Constitution -- all of which it is -- but about "women's rights" vs. the stodgy old men who run the Catholic Church, he will make headway with certain voters. Don't underestimate Obama's ability to do just that with an American public educated by public schools and their television.

If Rick Santorum becomes the GOP nominee, he'll be an automatic spokesman for the Catholic Church's position. He's a living, breathing testimony to the Church's teaching, from his own personal life to his well-informed intellect and conscience. Here's the rarest candidate who has actually read Church encyclicals like Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae. Santorum cannot only spell "Magisterium" but knows what it is and believes and follows it faithfully.

That's just fine for Obama and Axelrod. They'll take that guy. Hey, buddy, you want a culture war based on Catholic Church teachings? You got it!

Never mind, of course, that Barack Obama started this fight with his heavy-handed HHS mandate to the Catholic Church. Obama's media will behave as if Santorum is the intolerant one, rudely and righteously thrusting his faith into the "public square." The media will not bother to portray Santorum as simply reacting to Obama's totally unnecessary decree and assault -- which is what really happened -- but as a sexist Neanderthal who just can't pull his nose out of your bedroom.

Obama and Axelrod will love this. They'll thrive in this arena.

Remember Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals: Pick a target -- isolate it, demonize it. The Catholic Church may well be Team Obama's demon for 2012.

How's that for moral leadership? George Washington is rolling over in his grave.

So, that brings us back to my original question: Which of the two -- Romney or Santorum -- is a more forceful, eloquent spokesperson for the issues that Obama and Axelrod will use to define and malign him? I think the answer is Santorum, which is less a vote for Santorum than a vote of no confidence in Romney's persuasive abilities. Or does that bring us back to Newt?

One thing is certain: We can be sure that our Great Unifier president -- our "transformative" leader -- will again find a way to divide Americans, whether pitting them against each other by class or religion, by income or faith, by money or conscience. How's that for "hope" and "change"? Enjoy it, America, you elected it.

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About the Author

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His latest book is 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative.