Adam Gopnik has a spot on commentary in The New Yorker on the GOP’s making hay of Obama’s Roanoke speech the other day. The GOP and right-wing commentators understand well the context of Obama’s remarks—and that they are deliberately taking them out of context—but in a tough campaign and with Romney on the defensive on account of Baingate and his tax returns, c’est de bonne guerre I suppose (then again, maybe it’s just pure demagoguery). Gopnik, referring to an article of his on Adam Smith, says that
Smith, as I wrote, does not think that “government is the problem”; he thinks problems arise when the rich are able to make the government take their side. A healthy sovereign state is what serves the public against the producers… It isn’t just that a free market can survive regulation; it’s that the free market is the product of regulation, regulation designed to protect the public from the kind of arrangement that, let’s say, allows people with undue influence on the government to have a lower tax rate than people who don’t. This makes Smith, as I wrote, a firm believer in public goods: his state has an obligation to build roads and schools, establish an army, build bridges and highways, and do all the other things necessary for a sane polity in which the market can function naturally. Everyone should pay for them, and the rich should always pay more than others.
Couldn’t have said it better myself. Gopnik concludes his fine piece with this
So the view that the President was articulating the other day in the “that” speech wasn’t even a mild and “acceptable” form of social democratic reproach; it was the root foundational view of the free market as its greatest apostle imagined it. So don’t apologize, Mr. President, and don’t explain. Say it again! What you were articulating were the principles on which the free market, and with it this republic, is built. And that … is … that.
Yes, no need for Obama to explain himself. All he needs to do is keep hammering away at the S.O.B.s.
In this vein, the great Paul Krugman has a home run column today on the “Pathos of the Plutocrat.” C’mon Mitt, release those tax returns. Show us the goods. Just do it.