Charles Blow has a recent column here in which he criticizes President Obama for not referring to the poor or to poverty in his state of the union address. Tom Zcocca in Slate responds that Obama did refer to preserving Social Security and to the "most vulnerable" - the closest Democrats usually come to talking about the poor (though many of their programs help the poor). In my view Blow has a point. This is a time for leadership and and a time to give the lie to the tired old slogans of the Republicans.
The Republicans have suggested for years that the poor are just lazy, and they have compounded that insult with slogans like "welfare queen" that are calculated to appeal to overt or latent racism. The reason that this is a time for leadership is that the Republican assumptions are now more blatently false than ever. It is not just that the poor have been overwhelmingly white. But poverty is on the rise. To accept the Republican mythology would require the belief that there is an epidemic of laziness in the United States! No one thinks that and Democrats should say so. Use of the "most vulnerable" is a valuable part of the political arsenal. But when it is used instead of the poor or poverty, the Democrats fail to challenge the bankrupt ideology of the Republican Party.