Yesterday, on Facebook, one of my friends posted a graphic of the president and this recent quote, which is making the rounds:

I reject the idea that asking a hedge fund manager to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare…

And today, over at the Great Orange Satan, msblucow has an interesting poll up aimed at gauging how likely voters are to support Obama’s reelection bid in 2012. More to the point, why they are likely to vote for him (or not)? If you click through to the poll, there’s a series of questions that asks if the president’s actions on a series of issues make you more likely to vote for him, less likely, undecided, or do his actions and policies have no effect.

For instance:

  • President Obama’s recent push for job creation makes me more/less likely to vote/volunteer/donate in 2012
  • President Obama’s proposal to make millionaires pay more taxes makes me more/less likely to vote/volunteer/donate in 2012
  • President Obama’s handling of the mortgage crisis makes me more/less likely to vote/volunteer/donate in 2012
And so on. The questions cover positions on a wide range of issues, including economic, political, military/foreign policy, education, environment/energy, immigration and social issues.

On most of these questions I put “no effect.” That may seem odd, given how important I feel some of these issues are. At the bottom, in the comments field, I explained why.

I said that Obama’s pronouncements on things like jobs and taxation don’t make me more likely to vote for him not because I don’t agree with those policies. I do – wholeheartedly. But I simply don’t believe he means it and I expect these proposals to come to nothing. I don’t see these as actual moves by a president, I see them as campaign messaging, and I think we learned last time that he’s great at promising and horrible at delivering. If he actually delivers progressive results by the election, I might reconsider. Otherwise I’m voting Green.

Which is sort of like the comment I left on my friend’s FB entry:

I wish I shared your enthusiasm. This isn’t Obama being president, it’s Obama campaigning for a second term. Campaigning always brings out the pretty words in him.

So yeah, I’m skeptical. Over the past four or five years Mr. Obama has proven a few things fairly conclusively:

  • When campaigning, he talks a compelling progressive game.
  • Once elected, he reverts to right/centrist corporatism and makes sure he doesn’t upset rich white people.
  • His fetishization of bipartisanship is nearly pathological, revealing a deep-seated need not only to be loved by everyone, but specifically to be loved by those who hate him the worst, even if it means alienating those who actually support him.
  • He has bargaining skills the world hasn’t seen since the last time Mr. Haney went nose-to-nose with Lisa Douglas.

Which adds up to a very simple proposition: Mr. Obama has demonstrated that the words he says mean absolutely nothing. Whether he believes them or not, we cannot count on them generating results. As such, only a rube would pay any attention to anything the man says between now and Election Day.

I always try to teach my students that, in writing, it’s important to illustrate and evidence instead of simply asserting things. My advice to them is the same as I have now for Candidate Obama: show, don’t tell.

About the Author

Sam Smith

Samuel Smith lives a double life. Okay, triple life. By day he makes a living as a marketing consultant specializing in high-level strategy, branding, corporate communication and merging media and practices. In his "spare time" he's the executive editor of Scholars & Rogues, where he writes about everything from politics to music to sports to literature. Finally, he's an author of poetry and fiction whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals like storySouth, Poet & Critic, New Virginia Review, Cream City Review, High Plains Literary Review, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Pemmican and Uncanny Valley. He holds a BA at Wake Forest and MA from Iowa State, and somehow endured the torturous process of earning a PhD in Communication from the University of Colorado.

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