Amid the outrage over Governor Mitt Romney's misguided assumption that the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income tax automatically vote Democratic, reporters have overlooked an important fact: President Barack Obama made an almost identical mistake in 2010.
According to an article in The Washington Post previewing Bob Woodward's new book, Obama opened a meeting with a group of business leaders at the White House by stating that he knew all about their political affiliations. From knowing one fact about their occupations, Sherlock Obama believed he could deduce everything about their lives.
...Woodward portrays Obama’s attempts to woo business leaders as ham-handed and governed by stereotype. At a White House dinner with a select group of business executives in early 2010, Obama gets off on the wrong foot by saying, “I know you guys are Republicans.” Ivan Seidenberg, the chief executive of Verizon, who “considers himself a progressive independent,” retorted, “How do you know that?
Obama had no way of knowing the politics of his guests because he never bothered to ask. He just assumed that anyone who runs a business must be a Republican. Perhaps the president had seen some polling. Perhaps he had prepped for the meeting by watching clips of the only business leader many of his younger staffers have ever seen -- Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. Perhaps somewhere deep inside, Obama even understands that his policy prescriptions of more taxes and more regulations are toxic for the business growth and job creation that the country desperately needs. Whatever the case, Obama assumed wrongly.
As the president attempts to cobble together an electoral victory by running on the ridiculous platform that penalizing millionaires can solve everyone else's economic problems, it's worth remembering that voters are not as cynical as their politicians. Americans don't vote based on shortsighted, selfish interests. They believe, even if their leaders don't, in a future of social mobility where a worker barely scraping by today can look at a business executive and say, "That could be me tomorrow."