Payne: Obama schmoozes Oakland One Percent, ignores Detroit 99 Percent

Posted by hpayne on April 19, 2012

Bingham Farms – “Mr. President, please drive through Detroit,” beseeched The Detroit News editorial headline Wednesday before Barack Obama’s visit to Michigan.

He didn’t.

Obama ignored Detroit, skirting its border to raise money in the tony suburb of Bingham Farms where Democratic One Percenters live safely in Republican Brooks Patterson’s Oakland County far from Detroit’s crime and dysfunction. Indeed, Oakland is the very antithesis of Barack Obama. Its chief executive loathes Obama. Patterson’s conservative government eschews Obama’s seat-of-pants budgeting. Its low tax, low regulatory environment sucks business from Detroit – the high-tax, Big Labor model of Democratic politics.

Detroit is a model of 40 years of Democratic malpractice. Of billions wasted on fanciful liberal programs that have failed to stem record murder rates. Of welfare programs that destroyed the nuclear family, dooming generations of kids to fatherless homes- the #1 driver of poverty in America. Of unions that have brought the city to the brink of insolvency.

Improbably, Obama took his anti-entrepreneur message – he is regarded by America’s top businessmen as anti-business – to the home of Denise Ilitch, the daughter of one of Metro Detroit’s most successful entrepreneurs, Mike Ilitch, presumably one of the reviled One Percenters whose greed the president says has exacerbated America’s wealth gap. The irony was rich as Obama lounged in Ilitch opulence.

“The room the guests were in included a grand piano, a sweeping staircase leading to an overlook and tables filled with gold-rimmed dishes, Waterford crystal and centerpieces of purple hydrangeas and peonies,” reported The Detroit News.

Earlier, Obama spoke at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn (made possible by another loathsome, wealthy industrialist), basking in the glow of his Detroit bailouts (more irony since Ford was not bailed out). With the Other Two’s resurgence, however, Obama deserves the accolades. But as usual he overplayed his hand. He continued the fiction that Republicans would have “let Detroit go bankrupt.” In fact, Obama himself took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy. Mitt Romney too advocated bankruptcy for the automakers, but objected to Obama’s illegal stripping of bondholders’ rights in tilting the field to his UAW political allies.

Ultimately, however, it is Obama’s avoidance of Detroit that bruises his legacy.

His failed national policies – more spending, more welfare – echo Detroit’s failed solutions. Even more importantly, Obama has wasted a historic opportunity to do profound good. Even in recession, no corner of America has suffered more than urban areas like Detroit because of the implosion of the black family. Bill Cosby laments it. So does Mayor Dave Bing. Major academic studies rue its effects.

As a black male role model and father to two children, Obama could have preached the fundamental importance of family to a culture’s success. He could have changed the game. He didn’t.


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