Stay true to the message, even if it in no way resembles reality.
That’s been the Republican strategy since Karl Rove became what some called “Bush’s brain” more than a decade ago, and the party has played it with considerable success. Take the “death panels” of Obama’s health care plan. There are none and were none. But by repeating the notion over and over again, Republicans conditioned tens of millions of Americans to fear what they now know only as “Obamacare.”
Take the birther movement, which to this day insists the president was born in Kenya, contrary to irrefutable evidence to the contrary.
And if you’re convinced the painstakingly moderate Barack Obama is a socialist, well, that’s because the Republicans and Fox News have told you so, over and over and over again.
Now the GOP is setting up its battle cry for the 2012 election by branding the president’s call for millionaires to pay something approaching a fair share of taxes as “class warfare.” Given that taxes for the richest Americans are about half of what they were 40 years ago, and given that various loopholes allow billionaires such as Warren Buffett to pay a lower rate than their secretaries — something he has acknowledged himself, the GOP claim is, in my view, nothing but a cruel and cynical joke.
But it’s a claim that could work for Republicans unless — and until — Democrats take it head-on, turning the charge toward Republicans themselves. So far, that has not happened.
If there’s one thing I admire about Republicans, it is the discipline with which they hew the party line. They also understand that in today’s world of half-truths and less, facts rarely stand in the way of a catchy phrase. So if the president wants to avoid being rebranded as a socialist waging “class warfare” come spring, he had better speak up quickly and repeatedly — to point out, for example, that the wealthiest Americans are taking home a larger share of the income pie than at any point since right before the Great Depression and that the wealthiest 400 Americans control as much wealth as the poorer half of the country’s 300 million plus people..
Now that is what I would call class warfare. So Mr. President, it’s time to fight back and turn the tables.