Ask any Republican, and he will tell you that Washington is just as bitterly divided along partisan lines as it was when Barack Obama was swept into office on a giddy wave of hope and change. Or ask the president himself.
In a taped interview that aired on CBS Sunday Morning, he told Charlie Rose:
Washington feels as broken as it did four years ago. And you know, if you ask me what is the one thing that has frustrated me most over the last four years, it is not the hard work. It is not, you know, the enormity [sic] of the decisions. It is not the pace. It is that I haven’t been able to change the atmosphere here in Washington to reflect the decency … and common sense of ordinary people—Democrats, Republicans and independents who I think just want to see their leadership solve problems. And, you know, there is enough blame to go around for that.
When Rose asked Obama if he was on the list of those deserving some of the shared blame, he responded: “I think there is no doubt that I underestimated the degree to which in this town politics trumps problem solving.” Short answer: No.
So when Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) raised an objection in January of 2009 to the idea of a tax credit for people who don’t pay income taxes, the president’s haughty response—”I won. So I think on that one, I trump you”—did not in his view fan the flames of resentment or hostility. Nor was he contributing to the divisive tone he promised to end when he smirked in October of 2010 that after driving “the economy into a ditch” the Republicans could “come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.”
Clearly when Obama said of Rep. Paul Ryan’s deficit plan that the GOP’s “vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about pitting “children with autism or Down’s syndrome” against “every millionaire and billionaire in our society,” he meant it in the nicest possible way. Similarly, the “enemies” he promised to “punish” while addressing a Latino audience must have been someone other than the Republicans.
What is truly frightening is not that Obama is unable to recognize, much less own, his scornful derision toward those who disagree with him. It is that nearly half the voting age population of this country is unable to or is indifferent toward these qualities.
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