The Obama Watch

The Obama-Axelrod Class-Warfare Machine

Obama strategist David Axelrod set his sights on capitalist pig Mitt Romney long before Newt Gingrich did.

By 1.13.12

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Conservatives are upset with Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry for their criticisms of Mitt Romney and his work at Bain Capital. Some of the statements smack of classic left-wing class warfare -- heretofore the domain of liberals, Wall Street Occupiers, Barack Obama.

And yet, as some observers have noted, there may be a possible silver lining in this criticism: If Romney gets the GOP nomination, the harsh statements from Gingrich and Perry may be preparing him for the fusillade to come from Team Obama. This is truer than I think anyone realizes.

Here's the reality: Not only has Obama been pushing class warfare unceasingly for three years now, but his chief strategist, David Axelrod, has been employing precisely this tactic against Romney, well before Newt and Perry said anything.

Axelrod, of course, is the Chicago-based consultant who got Obama elected. He was the chief architect of Obama '08, right down to the very words "hope and change." The Los Angeles Times correctly called him the "keeper" of the message in an image-based campaign in which "message is everything." The New York Times dubbed him "Obama's Narrator." Axelrod honed the Obama image, got him elected president, and changed this nation. Then, after two years as a presidential adviser, he went back to Chicago to strategize on reelecting Obama. "I have one campaign left," Axelrod told a reporter recently, "and it is going to be to try to elect a guy who I think is a great president."

Which dastardly Republican stands in the way? The leading candidate is Mitt Romney, who happens to be the candidate Axelrod and Obama want. Ax is slicing up Mitt for an Occupy Wall Street feast. He sees Mitt as a hunk of red meat for the Occupy movement, as the poster-boy for Wall Street greed.

This has been the plan for months.

"Obama officials intend to frame Romney as the very picture of greed in the great recession -- a sort of political Gordon Gekko," reported Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin in 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, mind you, was still before Occupy Wall Street exploded in September and October. The Obama class campaign was already underway.

The Politico quoted what it called a "prominent Democratic strategist" close to the White House: "Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney."

Well, Obama has no accomplishments to run on, which means Obama and Axelrod will run on Romney -- tire-tracks and all.

Axelrod has steadily maintained this caricature of Romney. "He [Romney] says he represents business," Axelrod told MSNBC in October, "but he really represents the Wall Street side of business."

Last Sunday, Axelrod told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that Romney is "rooting" for economic decline. He described Romney as a nefarious outsourcer of "tens of thousands of jobs," as someone who "closed down more than 1,000 plants, stores, and offices" and "took 12 companies to bankruptcy." As this rapacious profiteer cheerfully destroyed companies and businesses and shops and shop-owners and the poor and the meek and the downtrodden and the crippled and the lame, "he and his partners made hundreds of millions of dollars."

"He is not a job creator," scowled Axelrod. "He is a corporate raider."

Axelrod frames this Romney way as the sinister "Bain mentality."

None of this is a surprise given the roots of Axelrod and Obama. Not appreciated is that fact that Axelrod, like Obama, is the product of radical mentors with literal communist roots. Axelrod got his first major job, at the Chicago Tribune, with crucial recommendations from Don Rose and David Canter, two self-described mentors with far-left roots in Chicago politics. Canter and his father, Harry Canter, were closely monitored by (Democrat-run) Congressional committees because of their work for Moscow, with David Canter actually called to testify before Congress in heated hearings in July 1962. Their home base, Chicago, was second only to New York in communist activity; in fact, the Party was founded there in September 1919.

In the late 1940s, Harry Canter actually worked with Obama's mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, at the communist publication, the Chicago Star. The Star was run by Davis, who was its editor-in-chief. These men were not only class-warfare specialists, but heartily believed what they preached. They were true believers.

My point isn't that David Axelrod and Barack Obama are closet members of Communist Party USA. The point is that the class-warfare they parrot so naturally is in the marrow of their political bones and ancestry.

If Mitt Romney gets the 2012 GOP nomination, prepare yourself for a season of class warfare in America unlike anything our generation has ever heard. You'll need to go back to the Cold War for rhetoric like this -- to Chicago in the 1940s.

And if you thought the Occupy movement was worked up last fall, you haven't seen nothing yet. If Romney is the GOP nominee, the Occupiers will go absolutely bananas this coming fall, especially if prodded by Team Obama. Wall Street might literally burn this time. The rich are going to be demonized in a frighteningly shameless way by professional agitators.

Before, Obama's pals simply wanted the Occupy-istas to rise up against Republicans in Congress. This time, they'll be battling for Obama's political life -- for nothing less than the revolution itself. It could get really ugly.

With Barack Obama at the helm, and David Axelrod charting the course against Mitt Romney, this nation is about to set sail into a poisonous sea of class envy and hatred. "Bain" Capital will be "Bane" Capital, as in evil. "Venture capital" will be "vulture capital."

This November's election might boil down to a fundamental debate between the merits of markets vs. central planning and wealth redistribution; at the least, that's where the rhetoric is taking us.

If I were advising Mitt Romney, I'd tell him to bone up not only on the good he did at Bain Capital -- explaining to Americans what venture capital is, and why someone with such economic experience is arguably perfect for the White House right now -- but on Hayek, Friedman, Hazlitt, Mises, Laffer, and, most of all, Marx. He might Google the word "agitprop," since he will be precisely such a target. And if Romney does this right, he has chance not only to win Americans' vote but to educate them about the wondrous free-market system that has made their nation the greatest marvel in human history -- and which they won't learn about from Obama and Axelrod.

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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.