Former Reagan speech writer, talking head, and gifted writer, Peggy Noonan, can speak for herself about her views. Her piece “The Power of Bad Ideas,” is behind the Wall Street Journal pay wall. Nonsubscribers can find a copy of it here:
The president was confident he could go over the heads of the opposition and win the day with his powers of persuasion. On July 25 he made his move, with a prime-time national address.
Boy, did it not work.
It was a speech with a calm surface but a rough undertow. “The wealthiest Americans” and “biggest corporations” should “give up some of their breaks.” The “burden” must be “fairly shared.” The problem is Republicans, who are “insisting” on an approach that “doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or the biggest corporations to contribute anything at all.” These Republicans ask nothing of “those at the top of the income scale.” Their stand would “threaten working families” and enrich the “corporate jet owner,” the “oil companies” and “hedge fund managers.” But don’t worry, “the 98% of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all.” “Millionaires and billionaires” must “share in the sacrifice.” Otherwise the government may not be able to send out Social Security checks.
It was, obviously, an attempt at class warfare. But class warfare is inherently manipulative, and people often sense manipulation and lean away from it. Americans at this point—they’ve been through the 20th century—don’t like attempts to divide them. It turns things sour.
A response is in the works and will be posted shortly.