Obama’s ‘you didn’t build it’ slip and Romney’s possible Veep picks
Can you imagine FDR, JFK, or LBJ uttering the now infamous phrase turned by BHO last week: “If you have a business — you didn’t build that”?
Seriously, sort through the names of Democratic leaders who have risen to a position of prominence at the local, state or national level — Bernie Buescher, Mark Udall, William Jefferson Clinton — and try to imagine any one of them showing the imperiousness, the audacious disconnectedness to ever wag their finger in the face of the shareholders of the American Dream and say: Hey you, it’s not yours.
Not a chance.
Jerry Stehman — you didn’t build Jerry’s Outdoor Sports. Robert Bray, Gene Taylor, Gay Johnson, Arvin the Starvin’ — all of these entrepreneurs and the millions like them across the nation through the generations were, if the president is to be believed, simply bit players in the rise of their own enterprise.
Can you imagine another politician ever thinking, much less saying, as much? N-O.
There really is no denying it: This president of ours is not from the philosophical line of Harry Truman or John Hickenlooper or Scoop Jackson or Roy Romer or the middle of the philosophical bell curve of the Democratic Party over the last 100 years. His brand of collectivism — his bare-naked disdain for the virtues of free enterprise and marketplace ambition — reveals a person who is not only misaligned with the historical mainline of his party, but also mystifyingly misaligned with the basic ethos of the American Dream.
Obama’s campaign team, deceitful cusses that they are, promptly sent out the political fire trucks to claim his comments were taken out of context.
But, as Washington Post columnist Aaron Blake pointed out Wednesday, Obama has made a one-degree-of-separation variation of the remark before. Notably, before his stimulus bill passed, the president said “Only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy…”
Most Democrats don’t believe this any more than they believe that government is responsible for the success of small business. Obama’s gaffe didn’t put him at odds with the tea party or Mitt Romney. It put him at odds with the historical mainstream of his own party — oh, and the American Dream too.
While Obama was out trashing American entrepreneurialism, Romney has been honing in on his pick for the vice presidential nomination. Reuters is reporting that the list is three: Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. A fourth candidate, former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, is also apparently under serious contention, but less likely than the Reuters-listed three.
The money favorite appears to be Rob Portman, a policy wonk and intellectually formidable senator, former congressman and senior hand in the Bush administration. His home state is pivotal Ohio.
Portman is not flashy, but he is bedrock solid — qualified for the job in spades. His selection would be treated as the safe play by the press, and justifiably so. In some ways, he is the anti-Sarah Palin. While they both share broad agreement on the principles of conservative government, Portman is detailed and understated where Palin was flashy and, well, not understated; Portman is prepared where Palin was sometimes, well, not.
Cut from a comparable cloth to Portman is Tim Pawlenty. Recall Pawlenty was the money fave for the No. 2 pick in ‘08, before the McCain campaign decided to pick Palin. Pawlenty is credible, prepared and, even though he hid it well during his own short-lived bid for the presidency last year, has plenty going for him in the charm department.
Still, Pawlenty is more Portman than Palin. If called to be president, he unquestionably could.
Then there is Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American in his early 40s who ran the Department of Health in Louisiana at the tender age of 25, before becoming a shooting star in the Bush administration, a U.S. congressman and eventually governor of Louisiana.
Jindal’s profile — his relative youth and ethnicity — would make his selection sizzle more than either Portman or Pawlenty. But like the other two, Jindal is very much substance over form. He is technocratic and knowledgeable, more Economist than People. He, too, is ready for the Big Desk.
Whatever the ultimate choice, the narrowed Veep list of Portman, Pawlenty, Jindal and perhaps Rice (who is herself formidable and ready) shows Romney’s commitment to picking a credible partner. Heaven knows that, if he gets the chance, he is going to need it. The mess that’s waiting in Washington is going to require all hands on deck.
Josh Penry is a former minority leader of the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.