The Obama Watch

Grading the Teacher’s Pet

A campaign primer for a winning party.

By 8.15.11

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Here's a winning formula for any Republican that wants to go after President Obama in the general election. Call him the "teacher's pet." It gets to the heart of everything Americans don't like about Obama and all his glaring weaknesses.

First and foremost, he is a pure product of academia. There's nothing of the real world about him. He's done nothing but sit in law school classes, conduct seminars, and gossip about what's going on out there beyond the campus gates. Every opinion he expresses about the world resonates of some discussion in the faculty lounge. The comment that rural Americans live frustrating lives that make them cling to their guns and religion -- where else do you hear that kind of remark except on college campuses? That's why Obama has no idea of how to deal with opponents such as Michele Bachman and Rick Perry. Where do these people come from? They didn't attend Ivy League colleges. They've never been to a session sponsored by Aspen Institute. Who are they? It's like Katie Couric sitting in the studio the morning of George Bush, Jr.'s re-election in 2004 and asking, "Who are these voters?"

Second, "teacher's pet" suggests what everybody knows about Obama -- that he's been coddled every step of the way in his climb up the academic ladder. He was never felt to feel like he might fail. That's why he's so bewildered finding himself facing failure. Where are all those people who always told me what a wonderful job I was doing? John F. Kennedy had the same privileged background but he understood that everything wasn't all going to be roses. When he failed in the first years as President he had the nerve to go on television and confess what a difficult and lonely job it was. Can you imagine Obama doing the same thing? With him it's always someone else's fault. The first three years were George Bush's fault. Now it's all the Tea Party's fault. He's never emerged out of that nirvana where everything he did won praise.

I've felt all along that if a truly formidable candidate like Rick Perry got into the race, he was going to make Obama seem like a little boy. Now it's going to happen. "Teacher's pet" sums up the difference between them.

TIM PAWLENTY HAS BECOME living proof of the veracity of President Reagan's 11th commandment -- "never speak ill of another Republican." By going after Michele Bachmann instead of sticking to his own record, Pawlenty has proved there's nothing worse for the party as a whole than watching one Republican try to win the Presidency by trashing another.

What better spectacle for the Democrats than the way Pawlenty went after Bachmann in the campaign. All they have to do except is pick up his lines once the primaries are over. It works for both parties. It is generally acknowledged that Teddy Kennedy's attempt to unseat Jimmy Carter in the 1980 primaries paved the way for Carter's loss in the general election. It's bad for Democrats but particularly bad for Republicans, since they are never going to be a natural majority.

A few weeks ago, a Democratic leader was fretting about the turnout of the party's base in 2012 and described it as "single women, young people, blacks and Hispanics." Those are large constituencies lost to Republicans. As long as single women want to be dependent on the government, as long as there are young people being educated in American colleges, as long as African-Americans continue to vote 90 percent for the same candidates and as long as Chuck Schumer continues to push for voter registration booths greeting illegal immigrants at the Mexican border, the Democrats will have a solid core of constituents. Add to them the millions of public employees who see the Democrats as benign bosses and you've got yourself a near majority of the electorate.

The Republican core is much more fragile. All those Tea Party fanatics out there are basically small business people who have gotten sick of the federal government intruding in their lives. That's a naturally limited minority. The Democrats represent government while the Republicans represent commerce and people involved in commerce will always be outnumbered by people looking for a handout from the government. Even if commerce supplies us with our daily bread, there will always be more buyers of bread than there are bakers. And if we decide to set the price of bread by majority vote -- which is basically what Democrats want -- then we end up with the kind of economy we have now, which only makes people dissatisfied with the system. Republicans have to stand together and say; "We know what's wrong with the system. Choose any one of us but either way you've going to get less government." That's the only way to win.

So it's not disappointing to see Pawlenty drop out of the race, even though he seemed like a promising candidate at the start. That soricidal attempt on Bachmann was exactly the wrong way to go.

WHILE PRESIDENT OBAMA is blaming George Bush and the Tea Party for the economy he has created, he ought to take a look at one Republican he professes to admire, Ronald Reagan. The huge losses on the stock market last week only highlighted what remains the worst single day in market history -- October 19, 1987, when the market lost 22.6 percent of its value in one day, almost twice the second-worst loss of 12.8 percent on "Black Friday," October 28, 1929. (Seven days later, October 26, 1987, also stands as the eighth largest loss in history at 8.0 percent.) If ever there was a market collapse that seemed to signal a depression, this was it.

So what did Reagan do? Absolutely nothing. "Some people are talking panic," he calmly noted in his diary. "Chm. of stock exchange very upset." But Reagan made not the slightest move to "rescue" the economy with government spending. The New York Times shouted itself hoarse urging Reagan to follow the Keynesian rules with a grand "stimulus," but the President wasn't fazed. He expressed confidence the market would bounce back without government help and it did. Except for a brief recession in real estate, the economy kept stamping out jobs so that by the 1988 election all Michael Dukakis had going for him was dropping the Pledge of Allegiance.

Just think of what our economy would be like now if Obama had Reagan's wisdom? Score another downgrade for the teacher's pet.

 

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Green Lantern is the pen-name of an East Coast writer.