Sunday, September 25, 2011

Obama shelves populist rhetoric while speaking to affluent donors

During his latest string of fundraising events, the President has been alternating the theme of his speeches according the audiences' economic status. While speaking to less affluent donors, Mr. Obama has been employing the use of populist rhetoric. However, while speaking to wealthier constituents, these populist themes are conveniently discarded.

From the LA Times:
The self-styled warrior for the middle class on Sunday took his reelection campaign straight into the maw of the super-rich.

President Obama opened a three-day Western trip with a fundraising brunch at the 23,000-square-foot Seattle-area home of former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley, where guests paid $35,800 for the chance to see the president and toss him questions.

He stood in a vast, high-ceilinged room filled with sculpture and paintings, a space that could have doubled as a floor of a modern art museum. In the speech he delivered before the press was ushered out, he shelved the populist rhetoric and focused on the political paralysis in Washington. No mention of "millionaires and billionaires." No references to Warren Buffett’s favorable tax status.

Instead he asked for help in pressuring Congress to shed the partisan animosity....

Obama will appear at no fewer than seven fundraising events over the next two days. The trip puts him in something of a delicate spot. He is raising millions from some of the same economic elites he says are flourishing under an unfair tax code.

Just last week, in a visit to Cincinnati, he proclaimed himself a "warrior for the middle class," a populist turn that his advisors hope will rally the Democratic base.

It seems Obama may be tailoring his speeches to the audience's economic station. Later in the afternoon he went to another event in Seattle where anyone could get in for the price of a $100 ticket. Speaking to 1,750 people at the Paramount Theater, he reverted to populist form.

He resurrected the "warrior" line. He inveighed against efforts to "bust unions." And he bemoaned a system that doles out tax breaks to the richest Americans while telling "everyone else that you're on your own."

Much as he is aligning himself with the middle class this political season, Obama will never be mistaken for a shot-and-a-beer guy. He seemed awed by the Shirley home.

"What a spectacular setting...," he said at the brunch. "I was saying to Mark [that was a slip; he meant to say, "Jon"] that I wish I had time to just roam around. Because this is as beautiful a collection as I've ever seen."