12 Ways Obama Smacked Down the Tea Party and the Right in Inauguration Speech
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Hear that, Messrs. Koch? Did ya catch that mob thing, Tea Partiers?
4. Throwing right-wing rhetoric right back at ‘em. In most political contests, a good political consultant will tell her client never to repeat the opposition’s framing of you. But, as the nation’s first black president, Obama finds himself in a position like no other. To ignore the rhetoric of the right as it is deployed against him lends a sort of cover to the racism that is often implicit in it -- or the simplistic ridiculousness of it all. When Obama, as he has since his re-election, acknowledges and, yes, even repeats that language, he lets the rest of America know that he’s in on the joke, and he thinks it’s a pretty lame joke.
Here, Obama shoots down the Tea Party's interpretation of the American Revolution, which is all about individualism:
For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.
So that line about “the tyranny of a king”? Yeah, that was for the wing-nuts who paint the president as a tyrant in order to justify their call for his overthrow or the overthrow of the U.S. government. Later in the address, Obama, defending the social safety net, took on the right’s “producerism” trope, heard from pundits and politicians throughout Rightlandia, that America is populated by two kinds of people, “the takers” versus “the makers”. (Remember that "47 percent" video?)
The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
And Ayn Rand wept.
5. Actually, you really didn’t build that. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney and his allies tried to make hay of Obama’s poorly crafted defense of government projects and collective action. In fact, Romney devoted an entire day of the Republican National Convention to refuting a straw man of an idea that Obama never stated, claiming that the president said small business owners were not truly the builders of their businesses. What the president actually said was that the success of small businesses depended, as well, on things the individual could not provide: roads, bridges and a public education system.
In his inauguration speech, Obama showed he’s not backing down from that claim, no matter how hard the right may try to misconstrue it:
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.
No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.
6. Tearing von Mises to pieces. Right-wing leaders -- as well as Wall Street bankers, industrial polluters, processed-food producers, and any number of one-percenters -- have their resentful followers believing that there’s no such thing as a good government regulation. Much of their reasoning is found in what is known as the Austrian school of economics, notably in the work of Ludwig von Mises and Frederick Hayek. With a single sentence, Obama dismissed that entire branch of quackonomics with the back of his hand: