01 Nov 2010

The Divider-In-Chief

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Democrats Pat Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen are comparing Obama to Richard Nixon in his capacity for divisiveness and lack of respect for the office of the presidency.

President Obama’s post-partisan America has disappeared, replaced by the politics of polarization, resentment and division.

In a Univision interview on Monday, the president, who campaigned in 2008 by referring not to a “Red America” or a “Blue America” but a United States of America, urged Hispanic listeners to vote in this spirit: “We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”

Recently, Obama suggested that if Republicans gain control of the House and/or Senate as forecast, he expects not reconciliation and unity but “hand-to-hand combat” on Capitol Hill.

What a change two years can bring. …

We write in sadness as traditional liberal Democrats who believe in inclusion. Like many Americans, we had hoped that Obama would maintain the spirit in which he campaigned. Instead, since taking office, he has pitted group against group for short-term political gain that is exacerbating the divisions in our country and weakening our national identity.The culture of attack politics and demonization risks compromising our ability to address our most important issues – and the stature of our nation’s highest office. …

The president is the leader of our society. That office is supposed to be a unifying force. When a president opts for polarization, it is not only bad politics, but it also diminishes the prestige of his office and damages our social consensus.

Moreover, the divisive rhetoric that Obama has pursued can embolden his supporters and critics to take more extreme actions, worsening the spiral.

Whatever the caliber of Obama’s tactics, they might achieve some short-term success. The Republican Party has offered no narrative or broad solution, and it has campaigned exclusively to take advantage of the negative environment. It contributes merely a promise of a more hostile environment after Tuesday.

With the country beset by economic and other problems, it is incendiary that the president is not offering a higher vision for the nation but has instead chosen a strategy of rank division. This is an attempt to distract from the perceived failures of his administration. On issue after issue this administration has acted in ways that are weakening the office of the president.

Read the whole thing.

When his own supporters say things like this about him while he is only halfway through his first term, the president’s prospects are looking grave indeed.

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