The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Mindless Disdain

The promise of Barack Obama, when he was elected on a "hope and change" platform in 2008, was a new kind of politics. Obama suggested that there would be no "red or blue America" and that he would work across the aisle to get the business of our country done.

It is, therefore, doubly ironic that Barack Obama has become the most divisive president in modern history. He regularly attacks his opponents, in many cases making them the butt of laughter (among his supporters). He blames them for his own failings (to the applause of his supporters), and denigrates their ideas and objections to his policies, to the knowing nods of his supporters.

Apparently, this president has relatively little knowledge of human nature. He seems unaware that denigrating someone with whom you must negotiate is not a good way to arrive at a deal. That's part of the reason why most of his initiatives have failed and his presidency is in ruins.

Peggy Noonan discusses the accelerating political divisiveness that has become a hallmark of the Obama years. She notes that the America of past decades was so strong that no amount of rhetoric or political argument could threaten her core. But that is changing. She writes:
I think this keeps them [politicians] from seeing clearly the chafing, antagonized, even fearful present. No nation's unity, cohesion and feeling of being at peace with itself can be taken for granted, even ours. They have to be protected day by day, in part by what politicians say. They shouldn't be making it worse. They shouldn't make divisions deeper.

In just the past week that means:

The president shouldn't be using a fateful and divisive word like "impeachment" to raise money and rouse his base. He shouldn't be at campaign-type rallies where he speaks only to the base, he should be speaking to the country. He shouldn't be out there dropping his g's, slouching around a podium, complaining about his ill treatment, describing his opponents with disdain: "Stop just hatin' all the time." The House minority leader shouldn't be using the border crisis as a campaign prop, implying that Republicans would back Democratic proposals if only they were decent and kindly: "It's not just about having a heart. It's about having a soul." And, revealed this week, important government administrators like Lois Lerner shouldn't be able to operate within an agency culture so sick with partisanship that she felt free to refer to Republicans, using her government email account, as "crazies" and "—holes."

All this reflects a political culture of brute and mindless disdain, the kind of culture that makes divisions worse.
Barack Obama does not act like he is the president of all the people of this country. For him, there are friends and foes. Like an old time, corrupt Chicago politician, he rewards and strokes his friends and does as much as he can to manipulate, castigate, and figuratively exterminate his foes. For him, it's all about the next political event (election, fund-raiser, or ideological meme). It's never about compromise, bi-partisan agreement or doing what best for the country regardless of one's politics.