The “Best Revenge” and the Worst Economies

It’s “game on” for the politics of retaliation.

While campaigning in the swing state of Ohio, President Obama’s supporters began to boo last Friday when he uttered the name “Mitt Romney.”

“No, no, no,” the President shouted, “don’t boo. Vote. Voting is the best revenge…”

Those who support the President’s re-election are to seek revenge on others. That’s quite a directive from the President of the United States, and it is quite a departure from the candidate of four years ago who promised to unite all Americans in the pursuit of higher purposes.

But it is nonetheless an example of that for which President Obama has become known -turning American against American. It’s more than an “our campaign versus theirs” remark. The implied message is that I will be made to feel better, if you are sufficiently maligned and impugned.

In particular it is meant to convey that if my government punishes you by taking away more of your money, then my life will somehow become more wonderful. It is a false premise that has emanated throughout Mr. Obama’s campaign for re-election and throughout his nearly four years of policies as well.

Reaction this weekend to the President’s “revenge” admonition was eerily similar to that which followed his famous “you didn’t build that” vitriol aimed at business owners last spring. Romney and Ryan made it a talking point from the stump, while the President’s surrogates went in to the usual “he was taken out of context” and “what he really meant was” explanations.

But consider how the President’s propensity for “revenge” on certain categories of Americans is at the epicenter of his economic ideas and rhetoric. Even back four years ago when he was promising to “bring us all together,” candidate Obama nonetheless consistently expressed disdain – and yes, an attitude of revenge – towards successful business enterprises.

Speaking to a stadium full of adoring followers in August of that year, then-Senator Obama went-off with a tirade about how American oil companies were making too much money! As the crowd cheered him on, he said, in part:

“…You’ve got oil companies making record profits…no… no companies in history have made the kind of profits the oil companies are makin’ right now…they..they…….one company, Exxon Mobil, made eleven billion dollars…billion, with a “b” ….last quarter….they made eleven billion dollars the quarter before that…makin’ money hand-over-fist…makin’ out like bandits…”

From there, Senator Obama went on to introduce his new “energy policy.” He wanted to raise taxes on oil companies (because, obviously, it is unfair if a company is “too profitable”), and use that “extra” tax revenue to give “working Americans” a thousand-dollar voucher that they could use to make gasoline purchases.

Senator Obama made no mention of the untold numbers of shareholders who invest their money in oil companies, nor any reference to the men and women who invest their talents and efforts into oil companies. And he certainly made no reference to fact that that oil companies actually provide us all with an essential product. No, Barack Obama is not given to such essential truths. Americans in 2008 were feeling fearful about the economy, and oil companies were enjoying success all at the same time – it was an opportunity to gin-up the desire for “revenge” that couldn’t be ignored.

Fast-forward to 2011. After signing landmark bills that sought “reforms” (read “revenge”) on banks, credit card companies, and – of course- health care providers, President Obama was feeling the heat over an economy that was still was not producing the much-needed job growth that had been promised. And while much of the business community had at that point refrained from admitting that we had a problem in Washington, DC, Las Vegas-based hotelier Steve Wynn finally broke the silence.

In July of that year, Wynn stated on a corporate conference call with his “Wynn Resorts” corporation what millions of us knew in our hearts.: “… This administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime…my customers… are frightened of this administration… Everybody complains about how much money is on the side in America…those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President. And a lot of people don’t want to say that. They’ll say, God, don’t be attacking Obama. Well, this is Obama’s deal and it’s Obama that’s responsible for this fear in America…”

After acknowledging the Obama-driven “fear” among America’s entrepreneurs and investors, Wynn further states that “the guy (President Obama) keeps making speeches about redistribution and maybe we ought to do something to businesses that don’t invest, they’re holding too much money. We haven’t heard that kind of talk except from pure socialists. Everybody’s afraid of the government and there’s no need soft peddling it…It is the truth. And that’s true of Democratic businessman and Republican businessman, and I am a Democratic businessman… And I’m telling you that the business community in this country is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the President of the United States… until he’s gone, everybody’s going to be sitting on their thumbs…”

And here we are, two days away from another election. Those with the means of investing and growing the economy are indeed “on the sidelines,” shielding themselves from the President’s “revenge,” and we all are suffering as a consequence.

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