Obama Wrong on 'Lazy' America--As Are Class Warfare Conservatives

The president and conservatives alike should be careful of the language they use to describe America's current predicament

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Via Jonathan Chait, I see Charles Krauthammer has taken President Obama to task for saying the United States has been "lazy" about "attracting new businesses into America."

Chait says Obama, in context, was referring to American policymakers, and not impugning Americans' work ethic.

Maybe.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

But Obama has walked down this path before. Remember his remark to an Orlando television station in September?

The way I think about it is, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and we didn't have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades ... We need to get back on track.

This was a terrifically dumb and unseemly thing for a president of the United States to say; it fatally undercuts the message he's been trying to convey since assuming office: that average Americans are "doing the right thing," but politicians in Washington are laggards.

As much as I can't stand hearing such talk from the president, it pains me even more to hear it coming from the right. When conservatives talk this way, they're not just misspeaking; they're revealing a rotten core philosophy.

Listen to the dough-faced fanatic Marco Rubio, from his much-praised speech at the Reagan Library:

[The welfare state] was a vision crafted in the 20th century by our leaders and though it was well intentioned, it was doomed to fail from the start. It was doomed to fail from the start first and foremost because it forgot that the strength of our nation begins with its people and that these programs actually weakened us as a people [emphasis mine].

"Weakened us as a people." I have a shorter version of that:

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Soft.

Lazy.

That some, if not most, Americans have gone "soft" undergirds the self-dramatizing, self-congratulating "We Are the 53 Percent" movement. It's the inspiration for what I call Reverse Class Warfare.

In the Tea Party era, the sentiment is as perverse as it is widespread.

Sadly, there's no one on the right of Krauthammer's stature who will challenge it.

  • See a collection of political cartoons on the Tea Party.
  • See a slide show of the 10 metro areas with the highest poverty levels
  • Read Rick Newman on the three reasons the markets might tank.