Barack Obama is trying his hand at uninformed populist demagoguing again, this time evoking private jet travel, which must come at the expense of “kids.” This is the sort of us/them rhetoric we have come to expect, soon no doubt to be followed by heartfelt plea for “civility.”
But one thing seems unclear: How does an attack on private jet travel square with his present efforts to wow Wall Street fat cats and the junkets to Vail, Martha’s Vineyard, and Costa del Sol? Or for that matter with the once tax-exempt Kerry yacht, the private-jet networking of green capitalist Al Gore, and Nancy Pelosi’s government-paid-for jet flights back to the Bay Area?
And when he associates a $250,000 income — about $125,000 net after federal, state, payroll, and local taxes in most of blue-state America — with the class capable of private jet-owning, we are once again back to tuning up 21st-century cars and inflating tires in lieu of drilling for oil. There is an art to populist demagoguery of the sort that Huey Long and even Ralph Nader used to excel at, but it falls flat — like millionaire John Edwards’s “two Americas” populism — when Ivy League–educated, mansion-living politicos try it without requisite preparation and study.