President Obama is flipping the script on conservatives by turning their political lexicon against them. First, the commander-in-chief yesterday described right wing efforts to overturn health care reform as “judicial activism,” a term his ideological opposites most often use to describe liberal judges who rule in favor of gay rights.
“I just remind conservative commentators that for years, what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law,” Obama said yesterday.
And later today he’s making a speech about GOP Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which the president will reportedly describe as a “radical vision” and “thinly veiled social Darwinism,” two charges Republicans have made about Obama’s own policies. And, actually, Ryan’s plans, too: Newt Gingrich came under heavy conservative fire last year when he called Ryan’s previous budget an example of “right-wing social engineering,” a not-so-distant linguistic cousin to Obama’s “social Darwinism” label.
The president clearly wants to take some of the wind out of right-wing sails by co-opting their language, and it just might work: after years of being conditioned to perk up, and act out, at certain phrases, conservatives may soon see that the message they’ve been following for so long has led them astray, and that the president actually knows what he’s talking about.