Pampered Populists

by Victor Davis Hanson

NRO’s The Corner

It’s surreal to see President Obama play the class-warfare card against the Republicans while on his way to vacation on the tony Maine coast, and even more interesting to note that now gone are the days when the media used to caricature Bush I (“Poppy”) for boating in the summer off the preppie-sounding Kennebunkport. The truth is that the real big money and the lifestyles that go with it are now firmly liberal Democratic.

One can use an entire array of evidence — the preponderance of Wall Street money that went to Obama over McCain in 2008, the liberal voting patterns of the high-income blue-state congressional districts, the anecdotal evidence of a Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or George Soros, or the ease by which an eco-populist like Al Gore buys estates and creates corporations, or the rarified tastes of men of the people like John Edwards of two-nations fame, or John Kerry of multiple estate residences.

Bill Clinton was perhaps the first liberal president to embarrass progressive populists, who by rote caricatured those who played golf or amassed millions in post-presidential huckstering. The point is that Barack Obama’s “them” rhetoric against those who supposedly make tons of money and won’t pay enough in taxes to fund the Obama technocratic class’s redistribution schemes seems almost fossilized. The more the polo-shirted Obama seems obsessed with golf, and the more he seems to prefer the landscape of the elite (who navigate the Ivy League, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Upper East Side, Cambridge, etc.), the more we wonder whom exactly he’s railing about.

Is it the less-cultured wannabe wealthy who don’t make enough not to be hurt by high taxes, who send their kids to Penn State or Purdue rather than Yale, who run hardware stores or paving companies instead of inheriting estates or being CEOs for green companies, and who vacation at the lake with their powerboats and jet skis rather than bike through Tuscany? In short, Obama had better get the populist photo-ops down a lot better, since his calls to soak the rich from the 18th hole or the coastal vacation home look increasingly ridiculous.

©2010 Victor Davis Hanson

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