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Is Obama the most polarizing president ever?

October 14, 2013|By Alexandra Le Tellier
  • President Obama looks to photographers as he meets with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The federal government remains partially shut down and faces a first-ever default between Oct. 17 and the end of the month.
President Obama looks to photographers as he meets with Sen. Dick Durbin… (Carolyn Kaster / Associated…)

“The Republican Party is at war with itself,” Doyle McManus wrote in his Sunday column about how former Republican Sen. Jim DeMint is using his new post at the Heritage Foundation to push Republican members of Congress as far right as possible, fracturing the GOP.

“DeMint has quickly turned Heritage -- especially its new lobbying arm, Heritage Action for America -- into a powerful engine of pressure on Republicans in Congress to move further to the right and reject almost any form of compromise with Obama,” McManus explained, pointing to a comment DeMint recently made on NPR: “There’s no question in my mind that I have more influence now on public policy than I did as an individual senator.”

But a reader by the moniker of “Bolthead” disagreed in the comments section that Republicans were the source of friction in Washington.

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“President Obama is at war with political dissent, Doyle,” argued Bolthead, who, after giving some examples, said: “For those who believed that the nation couldn’t possibly become more polarized than it was during the presidency of George W. Bush ... guess again. Obama’s the most polarizing president ever. Quite an achievement, really.”

That’s a strong statement, but is President Obama the most polarizing leader this country has ever had, or are we living through the country’s most insane political climate in history?

Reader “mksaelens” would go with the latter, commenting:

“The only reason that Obama is ‘polarizing’ is because the GOP has chosen to oppose virtually everything he proposes. From the outset, Republicans made it their mission to subvert the legislative process in the hopes of regaining the White House. All they’ve managed to accomplish with that strategy has been to all but shut down government and reveal themselves to be among the worst traitors this country has ever seen.”

And another thoughtful reader, by the name “The818,” agreed:

“Several years ago, the GOP came out and openly stated their overriding goal was to oppose every proposal made by the Obama administration and ensure he was a one-term president. Then they immediately turned around and claimed Obama was polarizing. It’s the same kind of non-logic that prompted them to shut down the government and then complain that the government is shut down. The GOP is incapable of connecting their behavior to the consequences that follow. They just whine about what happens and ignore the fact they deliberately brought about the very conditions they’re unhappy with.”

The reality is that the American people elected Obama. Americans voted for him for a second term in part because of the Affordable Care Act. It’s unconscionable for Republican members of Congress to hold budget negotiations hostage over a healthcare law the majority of Americans want. It’s irresponsible to cause the government shutdown, which is penalizing innocent people from unpaid government workers to patients unable to participate in critical medical studies. It’s reckless, to quote Chris Matthews, “to bring down America’s standing in the world economically.”

And it’s unfair to accuse Obama of being the country’s most polarizing president, when it’s the Republicans creating such strife, and with such catastrophic consequences.


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