Gallup has come out with a new poll, and headlines across the internet scream the results: “President Obama is the most polarizing president in history.”
Conservative websites circle back to President Obama’s pledge to unify the country – and then go on to cite the huge disparity in Democrat v. Republican approval of our President (79% Dems, 9% Republicans), thus concluding that President Obama himself is the polarizing influence.
Not so fast, Gallup. Let’s think back.
On President Obama’s inauguration night in 2008, a cabal of players in the Republican Party gathered, and the upshot was to derail President Obama’s every last agenda item, every last policy. As Robert Draper, the author of Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, reported, “for several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama’s legislative platform. As Draper wrote,
The dinner lasted nearly four hours. They parted company almost giddily. The Republicans had agreed on a way forward.
The “way forward” included a Republican witch hunt over incoming Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Republicans’ “united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies,” including unyielding opposition to the President’s stimulus plan, and continued focus on “electoral-minded ambitions.”
Fast forward to 2010, when Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told the National Journal that”the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” The Republican agenda consisted of unanimous opposition to everything: Jobs bills, the Affordable Care Act, immigration reform, college tuition assistance, tax proposals, and each and every executive order. There’s been talk of impeachment of the President, and even jail time – and because there’s no cause whatsoever for either action, Republicans have basically taken a “we’ll think of a reason later” approach. As Steve Benen of MSNBC noted, “. . . [F]or many GOP lawmakers, that’s a minor and inconvenient detail that shouldn’t interfere with reckless rhetoric.”
House Republicans’ ruthless opposition to everything President Obama has even resulted in a lawsuit filed by the House against the President for “inadequate enforcement of the healthcare law” – a law which they all oppose anyway. Republicans had to think hard to come up with a reason for their lawsuit; the fact that they decided to sue over the implementation of a law they’ve voted to repeal 50 or 60 times is just further evidence that Republicans care about one thing, and one thing only: Defeating any agenda held by the President.
And there’s something else which should be noted: Gallup claims that President Obama is the “most polarizing president ever” – but Gallup has only been around since 1935 and has only been polling these results since 1953. When it comes to “ever,” well, one would think that Abraham Lincoln was somewhat polarizing in the 1860’s. Woodrow Wilson was said to be a polarizing influence. And as for Gallup’s release of a set of numbers that identify President Obama himself as a “polarizing” influence, well, there’s a difference between President Obama actively engaging in polarizing activities (which he doesn’t), and the fact that his very presence in the White House caused the Republicans to lead the right wing of this nation to a place where no self-respecting Republican can agree with a single point of President Obama’s agenda. Republicans and the tea party have engaged in shocking levels of racial enmity against President Obama. Congressional Republicans have launched a campaign of unprecedented obstruction. The House, since 2008, has committed itself to a refusal to govern. Sabotage governing has been the Republicans’ benchmark.
Because most Democrats and few Republicans approve of President Obama doesn’t make him the polarizing influence; it’s a clear result of a relentless campaign by Republicans to discredit, dismantle, and denigrate this President.
Republicans have created this environment. Republicans continue to foment a climate of distrust of anything Obama. And anyone who’s been paying any attention since President Obama was first elected in 2008 knows exactly who’s responsible for this nation’s polarization – and it ain’t the President.
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