Is Obama defeating himself?

Mr. Obama himself chose to lash his re-election bid to his tax hike for the rich. His tax hike isn’t valuable to him because of the revenue it would raise (which isn’t much). It isn’t valuable to him because it somehow fits into his green-eyeshade management of the budget (neither he nor his party in Congress have shown much interest in managing the fisc).

His tax hike is only valuable to him because it nominates a villain for the campaign season—the greedy, undeserving, unpatriotic rich. It’s valuable because it affords a rhetorical escape route when the subject of unsustainable spending comes up. He can talk about making the rich pay their “fair share,” not about the chasm that would persist between spending and revenues, with or without his score-settling tax hike. …

Team Obama can also have no illusion about the purpose of its campaign strategy. It doesn’t kid itself that its attacks on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital will cause voters to flock to Obama. If anything, Mr. Obama knows his tactics cost him donor and voter enthusiasm on his own side.