Jerry White, wsws.org, 8 December 2011
In what was billed by the White House as a major speech on the economy, President Barack Obama on Tuesday combined a potted review of American history with half-truths and lies in an attempt to present himself as a fighter for social equality and critic of Wall Street.
Obama, who has spent nearly three years in the White House single-mindedly defending the interests of the financial elite, has in recent weeks adopted this populist persona with the aim of derailing the emergence of social protest, in the form of the Occupy Wall Street protests, and seeking to channel it behind his reelection campaign.
Typical of such carefully staged events, the site of Obama’s remarks—Osawatomie, Kansas, where Theodore Roosevelt gave his 1910 “New Nationalism” speech—was chosen for its symbolism. By wrapping himself in the mantle of Roosevelt’s Progressive Era reform agenda, Obama hoped to lend credibility to his improbable pose as a man of the people and opponent of the moneyed interests.