Karl Rove’s WSJ article starts with a gentlemanly-worded opening paragraph:

President Barack Obama reveres Abraham Lincoln. But among the glaring differences between the two men is that Lincoln offered careful, rigorous, sustained arguments to advance his aims and, when disagreeing with political opponents, rarely relied on the lazy rhetorical device of “straw men.” Mr. Obama, on the other hand, routinely ascribes to others views they don’t espouse and says opposition to his policies is grounded in views no one really advocates.

That’s a polite way of saying that President Obama is intentionally mischaracterizing other people’s views. It’s also a way of saying he’s being artfully deceptive. Here’s what Mr. Rove is referring to:

On Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told Congress and the nation, “I reject the view that…says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity.” Who exactly has that view? Certainly not congressional Republicans, who believe that through reasonable tax cuts, fiscal restraint, and prudent monetary policies government contributes to prosperity.

There’s no disputing the fact that President Obama is a gifted orator. Each time he speaks, though, more doubt is created as to whether he’s in over his head. I’ve always agreed that he’s a gifted politician. I can’t agree that he’s a brilliant thinker. He’s nothing of the sort.

More and more, people are starting to question his policies. Some people are tuning him out. What’s indisputable is that the DJI drops anytime he gives a major economic address. Fidelity’s “Ned” Johnson is one of those who are questioning President Obama’s policies:

“We can only hope that the government’s cure doesn’t further sicken the patient,” Johnson wrote in his annual update on Fidelity’s performance over the past year.

“During the ’30s, Congress, with guidance from the president and the same kind of good intentions, shifted the country’s cash flow away from productive businesses to government make-work projects, which most likely prolonged the Great Depression,” wrote Johnson, arguably Boston’s most powerful business executive.

As for the financial-system crisis, Johnson also took a somewhat anti-government conservative view toward its causes, saying “this climate was caused by many well-intentioned policies, stimulated by individuals at high levels in government and sanctioned by regulatory structures.”

TRANSLATION: Please don’t make the same mistakes that FDR made in the 1930’s.

Johnson is right on the money when he cautions against too much government intervention in markets and institutions. He’s definitely right in saying that the private sector is the only place where real prosperity is created, the only job growth engine in a capitalist economy.

Thus far, President Obama has talked like a capitalist and governed like an FDR-like interventionist. He’s justified his policies by creating strawman arguments. That’ll work for now. That won’t work when the economy doesn’t pick up soon. People voted for then-Sen. Obama because they thought he’d right America’s economy. The minute they realize that he’s got the wrong perscription for what ails us, they’ll abandon his policies.

Rove demolishes this strawman argument like Justin Morneau crushes belt-high hanging sliders:

Mr. Obama also said that America’s economic difficulties resulted when “regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market.” Who gutted which regulations?

Perhaps it was President Bill Clinton who, along with then Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, removed restrictions on banks owning insurance companies in 1999. If so, were Mr. Clinton and Mr. Summers (now an Obama adviser) motivated by quick profit, or by the belief that the reform was necessary to modernize our financial industry?

Thus far, President Obama and chief adviser David Axelrod have blamed things on Karl Rove and President Bush. I think that they’re doing that primarily because they thinks it’s playing well. I’m getting the feeling that Mr. Rove is getting ready to throw some haymakers. His questioning President Obama’s cheap line about gutting regulations is lighting a fire in conservatives’ bellies.

Now that he’s got a healthy sized bully pulpit to work from, I’d advise the Obama administration to tread lightly. Mr. Rove is still a potent political force.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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