President Obama’s press conference Wednesday was really a classic of the genre. His depiction of Republicans as full-blown, mustache-twirling villains was masterful, going as far as possible in demonizing them while avoiding descending all the way into a self-reductio ad absurdum. For instance, he stopped short of saying that Republicans were mirthfully profiting off of the poor, sick, and elderly, and limited himself to claiming that they were privileging “millionaires and billionaires” and “corporate jet owners” at the expense of kids’ college funds, old folks’ health care, and food safety.
At the Weekly Standard, Jay Cost notes that it’s nothing new for Democrats to conjure up images of dystopian kleptocracies that would follow Republican administration of government. In fact, Obama’s is relatively subtle. In 1984, Walter Mondale was more straightforward:
One last word to those who voted for Mr. Reagan.
I know what you were saying. But I also know what you were not saying.
You did not vote to destroy family farming.
You did not vote to trash the civil rights laws.
You did not vote to poison the environment.
You did not vote to assault the poor, the sick, and the disabled…
Cost writes that the most remarkable thing about Obama’s reinterpretation of this old theme is that “his numbers on this issue just plain stink.”