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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Divider, Not a Uniter

There has long been a divisive streak in President Obama's rhetoric and actions

Maureen Dowd notices:
President Obama also gave a speech Monday, talking at the White House while the drama unfolded at the supposedly secure Navy Yard nearby. He could have posted his original remarks on the White House Web site and replaced them with a cri de coeur on gun control, or comfort for the shaken city. The 12 who died were, after all, under his aegis as workers in a federal building.

But, jarringly, the president went ahead with his political attack, briefly addressing the slaughter before moving on to jab Republicans over the corporate tax rate and resistance to Obamacare.

Just as with the address to the nation on Syria last week, the president went ahead with a speech overtaken by events. It was out of joint, given that the Senate was put into lockdown and the Washington Nationals delayed a night game against the Atlanta Braves, noting on its Web site, “Postponed: Tragedy.”

The man who connected so electrically and facilely in 2008, causing Americans to overlook his thin résumé, cannot seem to connect anymore.
CNN reports:
"When there is a tragic event like this in the nation's capital and the local baseball team expresses that it would be insensitive to participate in the national pastime, but the president proceeds with a self-congratulatory press conference to celebrate his miniscule economic accomplishments, it tells you the Obama administration has become tone-deaf," said Alex Castellanos, a CNN contributor who co-founded Purple Strategies, a bipartisan public affairs firm. "Bill Clinton, who 'felt our pain,' would never have made this mistake."

It's not just Republicans who are critical of the president -- a senior Democratic consultant was critical of Obama's timing, too.
"Suprisingly tone-deaf. National unity has been at the heart of the Obama brand since his 2004 'there are no red states and no blue states' speech. To pass up a chance to unite the country after a tragedy was a missed opportunity. Unhelpful in terms of politics. Even more unhelpful in terms of governance," said the consultant, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely.
He was similarly tone-deaf in his Syria speech last week, as blogger Ace of Spades noted:
In a speech that had been good, for an Obama speech, avoiding his usual gassy nothingness in favor of tangible nouns and clear verbs of the sort he apparently was taught were poor form in college, Obama chose to drop this little insult:
And so to my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America's military might with a failure to act when a cause is so plainly just.
To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor, for sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.
Note that Obama's "friends on the left" believe in freedom and dignity in all people. People on the right don't, apparently.
What do people on the right believe in? "Military might." Pure force. Note that he decouples military might from any moral purpose -- he doesn't say "your commitment to keeping the nation safe" or "your commitment to a patriotic defense of America." No, such moral approval is stripped away so that Obama can speak neutrally of the one thing Obama thinks conservatives care about, naked martial power