This is a really good ad, proving that Romney can and will punch back at President Obama's attacks. ... I'm almost stunned that Obama used Elizabeth Warren's line about how business owners really don't succeed at business on their own. Technically, Obama and Warren are right, if you consider the public roads and bridges and schools and fire houses and all the other things that make up a functioning society and that allow businesses and others to thrive. Society really isn't divided into "producers" and "moochers," in the ugly Randian view of the world. But they're also technically wrong not to give entrepreneurs and business owners credit, because it does take a certain spirit and strong character to start and grow a business, taking on risks and sweating over the details that workers often don't see. The way he's phrasing it, President Obama's attacks are coming across as openly hostile to business, both big and small, when the issue is really about certain types of businesses (i.e. financial firms) that have grossly distorted the idea of free enterprise. Romney was part of that financial world. But Obama is allowing himself to be dragged into a simplistic battle over whether capitalism is good or bad. This is exactly what Republicans want. The president is giving it to them on a platter. ... This is going to be one hell of a close race, btw.
Update – BK sends in this piece making similar points about
the Obama-Warren connection. … Paul Krugman mocks the plutocrats who are
whining about the president’s remarks. OK, bash away at the financial plutocrats.
They deserve it. But here’s the problem: The president doesn’t seem to be
distinguishing between plutocrats and other business owners. Again, he's letting the issue turn into a simplistic thumbs-up or thumbs-down debate about capitalism, when he should really be blasting away at the crony capitalists who are corrupting capitalism. The Republicans are loving it, and, guaranteed, they'll be soon whipping out their Road to Serfdom and Atlas Shrugged quotes. See post below for the type of hysterical doomsday rants that will accompany attacks on the president. ... P.S. - Does the president have a clue that a lot of small business owners despise the breaks government regularly gives to big businesses, especially Wall Street?
Update II -- Here they come (all two of them): Emails to moi about how this post and the post below "contradict" themselves. Hub Blog's quickie response: They don't. I'm fascinated, not to mention mildly appalled, by the hair-trigger, apocalyptic response by some conservatives to any suggestion that capitalism may be flawed and in need of reforms. Even if the president's rhetoric gets out of hand (and it has), it's still ridiculous to assert we're headed down the path toward a police state and Soviet gulags, etc.
Update III -- Dan has an good post about the "making it alone" types. As it turns out, it seems one of them has made it with more than a little help from the government. But I disagree with Dan a bit. I think the president's rhetoric has gone too far. No so far as to justify apocalyptic predictions of tyranny to come. But he's using too broad a brush to describe businesses -- and many small-business owners are independents whose votes he desperately needs. Tactically, he's got to avoid the overarching debate of whether business owners do or don't need government. That's fighting on the GOP's turf. He needs to hammer away at financiers who get the bailouts, special Fed loan rates, lower tax rates and other huge perks that are perverting the concept of free enterprise. That's the populist -- and legitimate -- issue to focus on.