President Barack Obama portrayed his campaign donors Monday night as the modern-day equivalent of the 18th-century colonists who fought the British Empire on the battlefields of Concord, Saratoga and Yorktown.
“It takes you, ordinary citizens committed to fighting and pushing, inching this country forward bit by bit so we get closer to our highest ideals,” he declared in a tub-thumping campaign speech to seven hundred donors.
“That’s how this country was built. That’s how we freed ourselves from an empire,” he told the donors comfortably seated at white-linen tables in Washington D.C.’s Capital Hilton hotel.
Their circumstances were markedly more comfortable and safe than those of colonist rebels who risked being shot or hung if caught by the King’s soldiers.
Just in case his donors didn’t catch the flattery, Obama laid it on even thicker by comparing their donations to “how the Greatest Generation was able to overcome more than a decade of war and depression.”
He also offered his supporters a more plausible and politically correct comparison, comparing their efforts to those of 1950s and 1960s “young people [who] beat back the billy clubs and the dogs and the fire hoses to make sure that race was no longer a barrier to what you can become in this country.”
Still, Obama’s political pitch was markedly different from what previous generations of voters saw and heard.
While the colonial rebels favored a much smaller government with minimal power over the economy and culture, Obama offered a progressive vision where elite experts manage the country’s economic and social life on behalf of themselves and their favored clients.
And although the World War II generation embraced some government influence over the economy, it strongly opposed federal re-regulation of the nation’s self-governing culture.
Obama is not the only politician to recently massage facts and overstate the risks facing political donors and volunteers.
On Jan 3., for example, Texas Gov. Rick Perry compared the peaceful but exciting Iowa caucuses to the 1944 D-Day landings and to the 1775 ambush of British forces outside Concord, Mass.
“This election is about stopping a president of the United States and his administration that is abusing the Constitution of this country, that is putting America on a track to bankruptcy. … This is Concord, this is Omaha Beach,” Perry declared at a rally with roughly 200 of his supporters in West Des Moines, Iowa.
More than 1,000 U.S. soldiers were killed in the Omaha Beach battle, which ended when battleships blasted a path through German bunkers for surviving U.S. infantry.
At Concord, 49 American colonists were killed in the daylong battle that successfully drove a British unit back into Boston.
In the Iowa ballot, Perry came in fifth, with 10 percent of the vote. The success or failure of Obama’s messaging efforts will be revealed at roughly 9 o’clock, eastern time, on November 6.