Obama’s eat-the-rich campaign hauled out for mid-terms


I’m not really into the political cannibal thing. And I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that eating humans — even in metaphor — is still a sin.

But there’s something unspeakably attractive about the Democrats’ eat-the-rich campaign as they approach the mid-term elections in November.

John Kass2

President Barack Obama and his crew need to excite their base. And the last thing they want to talk about are the lousy job market or his collapsing foreign policy. What’s needed is a distraction.

And what could be more distracting than stuffing wealthy non-Democrats into a gigantic pot to sustain and nourish the rest of us?

History tells us establishment Republicans are the ones to cook when Democrats are in trouble. Yes, the victims often fidget and shriek. Sometimes they kick their feet desperately against the lip of the caldron, screaming that the media is unfairly forcing them in. But eventually they succumb.

Obama’s eat-the-rich campaign worked to great effect in 2012, with Republican Mitt Romney as the compliant stewing chicken. Romney was rich. And Romney was cooked.

And now that Obama has sent Vice President Joe Biden out on Labor Day to demand that we “take our country back” (as if Democrats haven’t controlled the White House for the past six years) it just might work again in November to stave off Democratic disaster at the polls.

Class war politics isn’t new. And suggesting humans be boiled to solve political problems isn’t new, either. The demographic targeted by the eat-the-rich meme probably doesn’t know this. But it was offered up years ago by the same fellow who wrote “Gulliver’s Travels,” and that wasn’t just a comedy starring Jack Black.

Naturally, nowhere is the eat-the-rich campaign louder than in Illinois, Obama’s home state, where Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has announced he’ll be living on $11 a day to prove he’s not rich like Republican multi-millionaire Bruce Rauner.

Quinn’s latest stunt is his so-called Minimum Wage Challenge. He’s promising to live on what he calculates would be left over after housing and transportation costs, if he had a minimum wage job.

Democrats who control the Legislature helped kill a Republican measure for the November ballot seeking term limits. But Democrats did put referendum questions on the ballot to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour, and to impose a tax on millionaires.

Quinn posted this on his campaign Facebook.

“First day on the minimum wage challenge:

I had a banana for breakfast. For lunch I stopped by Wendy’s and ordered a Junior Cheeseburger and baked potato, which totaled $2.70. Next I walked in a parade in Robbins, Illinois, to celebrate Labor Day!

“I visited five churches on Sunday to talk about the challenge and why we need to raise the minimum wage. A priest was raising money for charity at Assumption Parish, but I could only donate $5.

‘Later, I celebrated my niece’s birthday. I gave her $1 and a birthday note, all I could afford on my $79 budget this week. (Usually I give her more, but she understood.) — PQ.”

Really, Gov. Quinn?

I was worried that he’d try to live on a six pack of Bud and an order of biggie fries. But going to Wendy’s? Is that fiscally sound? There was no mention of what he fed his bodyguards. You might even call the whole stunt wasteful.

When I was a kid, my dad was a waiter. And we never went out for cheeseburgers. Not ever. Not once. We didn’t eat restaurant baked potatoes. And when we saw the inside of a restaurant, we were usually visiting an uncle and we went in through the alley into the kitchen.

If Gov. Quinn wants to make a big political deal about eating on minimum wage, he should stop going through the drive-up window. For the same cost, he could try what we enjoyed when we were kids, and I still enjoy it today.

It’s called Spanakorizo:

A box of frozen spinach ($1.50), some rice (50 cents worth), a $1.25 can of stewed tomatoes and a tablespoon of cooking oil — plus seasonings pilfered from any fast-food restaurant — could make a tasty and healthy, low-cost meal.

Make it with fresh spinach and you could sell the entree for $20 at a fancy restaurant if marketed as “authentic peasant food.” Actually, it could make several meals, so Quinn could give his little niece at least four bucks.

A loaf of bread could stretch it even farther. Another variation would involve neck bones and dandelion greens and rice and tomato. Or black-eyed peas.

But why bring reality into this? Quinn’s point isn’t how to eat on $11 a day. His mission is getting votes and convincing voters that he’s not an evil millionaire who should be devoured through class war rhetoric.

Rauner, of course, is the multi-millionaire. He didn’t make his money by winning elective office and leveraging the government to win treasure. But he is rich.

And Rauner is a rather large fellow, over 6 feet tall. Come to think of it, he might make a decent soup. But he’d probably only satisfy the bosses of the teachers unions and education bureaucrats. And they’d likely want to pick their teeth with his bones.

But then what?

If we boiled everybody with money and added barley to stretch the broth — maybe a little lemon and dill — who would the Democrats cook when the supply of rich people runs out?

Naturally, we’d have to eat the middle class, but there’s a problem with that idea.

The middle class has already been devoured in America.

Big government takes their taxes. Big corporate shipped the jobs away, with help from establishment Republicans and Democrats. And now, nothing much is left.

And you can’t make soup with nothing, can you?

(John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune who also hosts a radio show on WLS-AM. His e-mail address is jskass@tribune.com, and his Twitter handle is @john_kass.)

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