July 29, 2010

IT'S NOT JUST THE DAMAGE THEY DO THE COUNTRY, BUT THE DAMAGE THEY DO THEMSELVES:

Our Divisive President: Barack Obama promised a new era of post-partisanship. In office, he's played racial politics and further split the country along class and party lines. (PATRICK H. CADDELL AND DOUGLAS E. SCHOEN, 7/28/10, WSJ)

Even the former head of the Civil Rights Commission, Mary Frances Berry, acknowledged that the Obama administration has taken to polarizing America around the issue of race as a means of diverting attention away from other issues, saying: "the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. . . . Having one's opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness."

The president had a unique opportunity to focus on overarching issues of importance to whites and blacks. He has failed to address the critical challenges. He has not used his bully pulpit to emphasize the importance of racial unity and the common interest of poor whites and blacks who need training, job opportunities, and the possibility of realizing the American Dream. He hasn't done enough to address youth unemployment—which in the white community is 23.2% and in the black community is 39.9%.

Mr. Obama has also cynically divided the country on class lines. He has taken to playing the populist card time and time again. He bashes Wall Street and insurance companies whenever convenient to advance his programs, yet he has been eager to accept campaign contributions and negotiate with these very same banks and corporations behind closed doors in order to advance his political agenda.

Finally, President Obama also exacerbated partisan division, and he has made it clear that he intends to demonize the Republicans and former President George W. Bush in the fall campaign. In April, the Democratic National Committee released a video in which the president directly addressed his divide-and-conquer campaign strategy, with an appeal to: "young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 [to] stand together once again."

President Obama's divisive approach to governance has weakened us as a people and paralyzed our political culture. Meanwhile, the Republican leadership has failed to put forth an agenda that is more positive, unifying or inclusive. We are stronger when we debate issues and purpose, and we are all weaker when we divide by race and class. We will pay a price for this type of politics.


You can understand why Democrats thought divisiveness would help them in December 2000--they'd just lost an election where their candidate got more votes and it was reasonable to see W as vulnerable in 2004. But it didn't work. He worked out bipartisan agreements on NCLB, prescription coverage and the like and carried the midterms and then was easily re-elected.

Why would they expect dividing the country to work any better now?

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 29, 2010 5:42 AM
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