David Frum

09.18.12

Obama's Success: Not Because of Welfare

Ramesh Ponnuru points out the willful blindness of partisan Republicans on Obama. While they claim he will win because he's hooked people on the welfare state, reality is a tad more complex.

For starters, the public at large isn’t as convinced as conservatives that he has been a dismal failure. Most people cut him some slack because of the economic crisis that began under a Republican president and kept unfolding as Obama took office. They know that the economy has changed direction. Some people think the economy has done about as well as it could have under the circumstances.

Another reason Obama is doing well might have to do with the weakness of the Republican economic message. Republicans dwell on the heroic entrepreneur held back by taxes and regulation, which must be part of the story that a free-market party tells. But most people don’t see themselves in that storyline, any more than they see themselves as dependents of the federal government. They don’t see Americans as divided between makers and takers.