For every group Obama takes to task, he also has a “to be sure” passage in which he tries to make clear that he’s not talking about you. But if you listen to the music, not the words, you might well think otherwise. A wish to raise taxes on top-bracket taxpayers doesn’t prove that you “hate the rich” or that you’re trying to stoke the fires of class warfare. It doesn’t mean you define an income of $250,000 as “rich.” It simply means that you believe that the people who’ve been most fortunate in this country are in the best position to contribute more to solving its financial problems. But this distinction is hard to maintain if you’re simultaneously suggesting that there is something ill-gotten about most rich people’s gains.

People really resent this. I have a friend, a banker, who voted for Obama in 2008 but senses that he is being picked on unfairly. Which he is. And he is not pacified by reminders that Obama’s grandmother was a banker, as charming and surprising to some as that may be.

Aren’t most typical white people bankers? Plus this: “In addition to being unfair, conflating actual crooks and the innocent affluent makes it hard to claim that raising their taxes isn’t punishment for some form of misbehavior. Taxes are not a punishment; they are a source of necessary revenue. But if you tie them to the financial scandal, they sound pretty punitive.”

That’s not all that Obama has done to make taxes seem punitive. . . .