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Let's hate success now

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By Jeffry Gardner

Absent any traditional success on any front over the past three-plus years, President Obama has decided to make success a bad word. Not just a bad word, success is becoming tantamount to a pathological disorder.
By “traditional success,” of course, I’m using such archaic standards as creating jobs, generating opportunity, developing strong foreign presence, maintaining a strong national defense, cutting the deficit, reducing our national debt. Things that apparently went out of fashion with the phrase: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
Those were Obama’s words, proclaimed, curiously enough, five days prior to Nov. 4, 2008.  And now, with our economy still teetering on the edge of collapse, unemployment still over 8 percent (and that isn’t “real” unemployment, which some estimates place in the surreal upper teens), gasoline prices at record levels and still climbing, and our deficit and debt still rising, Obama has decided to make class warfare the center piece of his campaign.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise. After all, the man looked us right in the eyes and said he was going to “fundamentally transform” our nation. He was talking about bringing revolution to a republic built on capitalism and democracy, so just what did we suppose he meant? Better days ahead?  
Nope. Obama sold then when he is selling now. Basically this: America is not exceptional; its people, particularly the rich, are uncaring and oppressive. We’ve bullied the world for decades – as Hitler, Stalin, bin Laden and others will attest. And, while it might not answer all our ills, a little social upheaval ignited via an economic collapse would be cleansing.
Obama is saying, and has been saying to anyone who’s paid attention, that since America’s inception we’ve been told the pie is limitless, huge, increasing. But the Big Pie story, our President says, is a lie. There’s only one pie – and it’s being devoured by the “haves.”
So, again, barring any traditional success, or what would be considered success in a capitalist republic, it’s best to unleash cynicism and let the chips fall where they may. Rise up, proletariat! Forward!
The tiny pie story’s selling for a couple reasons. First, it’s selling, I believe, in part to those who have long embraced victimhood and to those who feel guilty to their core about their success.
Second, it’s selling because it taps into one of humankind’s baser instincts: envy. There’s a reason we’ve long been counseled not to covet. A reason envy ranks among the deadly sins.  
And we know it’s selling envy, how? Because, as a friend said to me recently, “Did you ever imagine a president running a campaign on the promise of raising taxes?”
Never. Nor did I ever imagine a campaign based on dragging down the opponent because they’ve succeeded. One Obama ad talks about Romney paying 15 percent on his taxes last year. It neglects to mention that he’d already paid taxes on the earned income, and the 15 percent was on the investment income. (Investing used to be a good thing. Creates jobs, and... Twentieth century thinking again, I guess.)
Look, Mitt Romney’s family didn’t bootleg its way into the economic stratosphere. His personal story is inspiring (and easy to document), and Romney’s private sector experience in today’s wasteland of public servants is refreshing.
The irony is that Romney’s career is being used against him by someone with zero private sector experience. What Obama did acquire before diving into the cesspool of Illinois politics was the ability to turn one American against another.
Now his campaign’s centered on raising taxes “on those who have the most” because he knows human nature and he knows his record. Attacking success is the only option you have when you’ve succeeded at nothing in your first three-plus years in office.
Jeffry Gardner
New Mexico News Service