The intellectual dishonesty of Obama and other false purists

The truth is that both parties are ideologically rigid. Unbending is the nature of a political parties, especially when voters themselves are sorting into “red” and “blue” teams; when computer-assisted redistricting and other structural factors encourage partisanship; and when the media industry is being pushed (and is pushing voters) to political extremes.

Obama can reasonably argue that the Republican Party is more rigid than the Democratic Party. I would agree, and I don’t hesitate to hold the GOP accountable for positions that place the party on the wrong side of history and demographic trends.

But it’s my belief that Obama has overstated his obstacles to success on taxes, immigration, climate change, and other issues. The candidate of unbridled optimism in 2008 is now cynical, bowed, and nearly beaten—a leader whose excuse for failure amounts to, I can’t lead because Republicans won’t let me. By the way, that is not a conservative talking point; it’s rooted in dozens of conversations I’ve had in the past 17 months with Democrats.