On Friday, President Barack Obama appeared at a University of Vermont rally and fundraiser to tell voters that, while “rugged individualism” has made America the richest nation in history, Mr. Obama rejects “you’re on your own” economics. Mr. Obama’s message, which at times seemed politically schizophrenic, explained that each American’s financial success is, in actuality, the result of someone else, not their own individual efforts:
You know, each of us is only here because somebody somewhere felt responsibility, yes to their families, but also to their fellow citizens. Also to our country’s future. That’s the American story. The American story is not just about what we do on our own. Yes, we’re rugged individualists, we expect personally responsibility and everybody out there has got to work hard and carry their weight.
We also have always understood that we wouldn’t win the race for new jobs and businesses, and middle class security if we were just applying some ‘you’re on your own economics.’
It’s been tried in our history and it hasn’t worked. It didn’t work when we tried it in the decade before the Great Depression. It didn’t work when we tried it in the last decade. We just tried this. What they’re peddling has been tried — it did not work!
The mixed economic message may provide Mr. Obama’s political opponents with material to use against him come fall; however, one line in particular may come back to haunt him:
It wasn’t a vision where everybody is left to fend for themselves. It wasn’t a vision where the rules are made just for the powerful. It was a vision of an America where everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead. Everybody. That’s the vision that we shared. That’s the change that we believed in. In three years we’ve begun to see what change looks like.
That last line–“In three years we’ve begun to see what change looks like”–seems ripe for a political attack ad cataloging the litany of grim statistics wrought by the Obama economy. Look for it to be used in the fall campaign.