After listening to the President’s fighting address on Labor Day, HUMAN EVENTS concluded that Obama “was taking a page from [Harry] Truman’s ’48 campaign book: He would run the kind of gloves-off, hard-punching campaign against Republicans in Congress that energized labor enough to help Truman win reelection as well as recapture control of Congress from the Republicans.”
Leaving his news conference on Thursday, this reporter came away with the conclusion that Obama’s first televised session with the White House press corps in nearly three months was the next step in what is sure to be a 2012 campaign modeled closely after Truman’s celebrated “Give ‘Em Hell” upset of 1948.
From his repeated attacks on Republicans in Congress for not taking up his American Jobs Act (“Why would they be opposed to common-sense ideas that historically been have supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past?”) to his invoking of the “Buffett Rule’ (which is that “millionaires and billionaires should not be paying lower tax rates than ordinary families”), Obama sounded even more like Truman in his most spirited fighting form in 1948 than he did in his Labor Day speech in Detroit last month.
HUMAN EVENTS was not the only one in the East Room of the White House to note the similarity. CBS News’ veteran correspondent Bill Plante pointed out to the President: “[I]t begins, sir, to look like you’re campaigning, and like you’re following the Harry Truman model against the do-nothing Congress instead of negotiating.”
Referring to Plante’s Truman comparison, Obama remarked: “If Congress does nothing, then it’s not a matter of me running against them. I think the American people will run them out of town, because they are frustrated, and they know we need to do something big and something bold.”
In one intriguing respect, Obama actually went further than Truman did, and clearly identified himself with the far Left on the political spectrum. Where Truman in ’48 made sure that his fighting liberalism was different and more centrist than the hard-Left Progressive Party, whose ’48 presidential nominee was former Vice President Henry Wallace (“Henry Wallace’s Communists” is how HST once denounced them), Obama embraced today’s hard Left embodied by the mobs of protesters on Wall Street.
“The protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration of how [Wall Street] works,” he said.
Having identified himself with the opponents of the much-criticized business community who have recently taken to the streets, the President proceeded to neatly tie that community to the Republicans in Congress who will now deal with his nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to be the nation’s chief financial watchdog.
Many Republicans, Obama charged, would like to “roll back the whole notion of having a financial watchdog” as well as get rid of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory legislation.
“That does not make sense,” he concluded.
The President discussed other things at his news conference—the Solyndra solar energy affair, the current Chinese currency debate in Congress, and the ties of the Pakistani government to terrorists. But it was obvious that, beginning with the call for action by Congress on the American Jobs Act, the President was for the second time polishing up his 2012 version of Harry Truman’s fighting campaign of 1948. It seems a safe bet to conclude we haven’t seen the last of the strategy.