By MARK PENN
Published Septermber 18, 2011
Barack Obama is careening down the wrong path towards re-election.
He should be working as a president, not a candidate.
He should be claiming the vital center, not abandoning it.
He should be holding down taxes rather than raising them.
He should be mastering the global economy, not running away from it.
And most of all, he should be bringing the country together rather than dividing it through class warfare.
When Al Gore faced a close presidential race in 2000, he abandoned running on peace and prosperity in favor of the people vs. the powerful, only to see his lead evaporate. When John Kerry was facing a tough race in 2004, he spent the last few months after the convention tacking to the left on the Iraq war and other issues to stimulate the base, only to fall even farther behind.
But when Bill Clinton was facing the fight of his political life in his 1996 re-election, he got rid of all the class warfare language used by traditional Democrats, got behind welfare reform and the balanced budget, and supported a strong, activist government that spent and taxed less rather than more. As a result, Clinton trounced the Republican nominee and was the first Democrat to serve a full eight years since Roosevelt. And the country got behind the president.