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“I don’t want to pit Red America against Blue America; I want to be the President of the United States of America.” That was of course one of Barack Obama’s signature lines when he was on the campaign trail in 2008. Those words succinctly expressed a dream that has always appealed to the electorate: finding a leader who would put an end to partisan bickering and political propaganda. Americans desperately wanted to believe that Barack Obama was just such a man, but of course he never was. Soon after he took the oath of office, it became apparent that the Great Uniter was going to be as polarizing a president as the nation has seen for quite some time. Indeed, another couple of sentences from the president’s 2008 stump speech come to mind. Obama used them to attack the Bush administration, but they resonate all the more strongly today: “We were promised a uniter, and we got a president who could not even lead the half of the country that voted for him,” Obama said. “We were promised a more ethical and more efficient government, and instead we have a town called Washington that is more corrupt and more wasteful than it was before.”
Today, the president’s centrist façade – one that fooled even some erstwhile conservatives – has been completely stripped away. We don’t have a post-racial, post-partisan president who is going to nurture compromise and understanding. We rather have a president who highlights and exploits racial and ideological divisions for political purposes. We have a president whose idea of compromise is that anyone who disagrees with his policies ought to change their mind or shut up. All of these unseemly tactics – the very tactics that Obama condemned two short years ago – are on full display as Election Day 2010 draws near. Desperate to salvage a Democratic majority in at least one house of Congress, the president is using the politics of fear and division like a sledgehammer, hoping to carve out just enough voting blocs to save the day.
Channeling Harry Reid, Obama recently implied that the Republican Party is the enemy of the Latino community in America. The president said: “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us’ … then I think it’s gonna be harder.” He’s not even bothering to try to be subtle anymore. The idea that politicians of either party should do what’s best for all Americans, regardless of race, has been tossed out the window in name of political expediency.
Campaigning in Rhode Island, the president once again dragged out his tired “car in the ditch” metaphor, but with an unfortunate twist. Describing his administration’s soon to be successful (any day now – just you wait and see) efforts to get the economy back on track, Obama said the car would soon be moving again. However: “We can’t have special interests sitting shotgun,” he declared. “We gotta have middle class families up in front. We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.”
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