President Obama spends an awful lot of his time picking fights with his opponents, making outrageous and counter-factual statements, and behaving like a complete boor. It’s not just who he is, it’s a strategy.
Major Garrett detailed the White House’s calculated effort to be controversial and provocative in 2014: This is the White House theory of “Stray Voltage.” It is the brainchild of former White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe, whose methods loom large long after his departure. The theory goes like this: Controversy sparks attention, attention provokes conversation, and conversation embeds previously unknown or marginalized ideas in the public consciousness.
Mickey Kaus characterizes the approach as “gaslighting” – giving your opponent a legitimate reason to get angry, then turning around and pointing to their anger as evidence they’re unhinged, obsessed, incapable of governing responsibly, etcetera.
President Obama made clear he refuses to be a lame duck; instead, the passage of the 2014 midterms only liberated him from worrying about what the public thinks. An executive-order amnesty, enacting an Iran deal opposed by a bipartisan majority of the Senate, even renaming Mount McKinley – Obama’s charging ahead with everything that was too controversial before Obama’s reelection campaign or the midterm elections. Two years after negotiating the end of 18 percent of the Bush tax cuts – about $624 billion — Obama proposed $320 billion in new tax hikes. The White House later indicated the president was “very interested” in exploring the option of raising taxes through executive action.
Free community college? Hey, it’s never going to become law, so why not propose it and make Republicans look mean for not enacting it? Goofing around with a selfie stick? Go right ahead. Chewing gum at an international summit? Hey, what are they going to do, impeach him?
The other half of the equation is how much the Democrat base loves that Obama is angering conservatives. Most Democrats (and a lot of Republicans) care less about policy than about whether their team is “winning.” If Obama is making conservatives mad, then he is “winning.” It’s a very middle-school-girl way of looking at things, but middle-school-girl is where most of the left is, emotional-maturity-wise.