If there’s one thing Barack Obama and his political pals know how to do, it’s how to stoke resentment.
This was a man who told us “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is a United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America, a Latino America, an Asian America, There is a United States of America.”
This was a man who spoke eloquently of a new day in America. “The time has come,” he said, “to move beyond the bitterness and anger and pettiness that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division. And instead make it about addition; to build a coalition for change that stretches through red states and blue states.”
It’s possible, I guess, that Barack Obama meant every word. But I suspect he meant that we could all achieve this wonderful, post-partisan, can’t-we-all-just-get-along America if – but only if – Republicans saw things the way he does; only if conservatives jumped on his liberal bandwagon and helped him “fundamentally transform the United States of America” — the way he thought it should be transformed.
I guess one more thing is possible: that he is so enamored with himself that he has no idea why he has become one of the most polarizing political figures in American history.
Here are a few reasons …
With the midterm elections approaching, Mr. Obama has been trying to energize his base with some old, often reliable standbys. There’s the supposed Republican war on women, for one. Republicans, we’re told, are against a higher minimum wage and against equal pay for equal work legislation – because, well because, they’re pro-business anti-women.
Never mind that hiking the minimum wage would cost the economy hundreds of thousands of jobs – that according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
As for the Paycheck Fairness Act, the GOP put out a statement saying it’s already illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, adding that, “This law will not create ‘equal’ pay, but it will make it nearly impossible for employers to tie compensation to work quality, productivity and experience, reduce flexibility in the workplace, and make it far easier to file frivolous lawsuits that line the pockets of trial lawyers.”
And this is what Ruth Marcus, the columnist at the Washington Post wrote about the Democrats’ war on women strategy:
“The level of hyperbole — actually, of demagoguery — that Democrats have engaged in here is revolting. It’s entirely understandable, of course: The Senate is up for grabs. Women account for a majority of voters. They tend to favor Democrats. To the extent that women — and in particular, single women — can be motivated to turn out in a midterm election, waving the bloody shirt of unequal pay is smart politics. Fairness is another matter.”
Ms. Marcus, by the way, is no conservative. When liberals start saying such things, you know Mr. Obama and his party will do just about anything to take the voters’ minds off of other things, like the weak economy and ObamaCare.
And how’s this for trying to unify the country? Mr. Obama once urged Hispanics to “punish their enemies” — not their political opponents; not the other side; their enemies. He said, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.” He said, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” And he’s been doing everything but putting mug shots up of those heartless rich Americans who supposedly would rather watch people starve in the street than part with any of their money.
And if it isn’t class or gender warfare, then race is always good to get the base riled up before an election.
Just the other day, his close friend, the Attorney General, Eric Holder stoked more resentment, suggesting that he and the president are treated badly – not because of their politics – but because they’re black. Speaking to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Holder said this:
“Forget about me, forget about me. You look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee — has nothing to do with me, forget that. What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”
Holder was referring to a combative exchange with a conservative Republican congressman from Texas, Louis Gohmert, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing. Gohmert was complaining that his request for certain documents hadn’t been satisfied, suggesting that Holder was playing politics.
Did it occur to Mr. Holder that his intransigence might be the reason he was treated harshly? Did he consider the possibility that the reason Mr. Obama has so many detractors might be his politics – not the color of his skin?
Mr. Obama also spoke to Sharpton’s group, telling them that Republicans want to take their civil rights away. “The stark, simple truth is this,” the president said: The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago.” Why? Because those racist Republicans want voter ID laws.
So should we be surprised when even the great Hank Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record 40 years ago, compares Republicans to the Ku Klux Klan?
“Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated,” Aaron told USA Today. “We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country. The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”
Yes, black Americans and white Americans have very different histories that have led to some very different perceptions. A legacy of slavery and segregation does things to the psyche. But Eric Holder playing the race card –to an Al Sharpton crowd, no less — and the president joining in a day later … none of that helps convince African-Americans, or anybody else, that “there is not a black America and a white America” but only “a United States of America.”
He told us he wanted “to end the political strategy that’s been all about division” — that instead he wanted to “make it about addition” and “build a coalition for change that stretches through red states and blue states.” As we approach the midterm elections of 2014, that Barack Obama is gone. And I suspect he never really existed.