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I remember the day after the November 2008 elections waking up, and it was one of those moments when you know you made a great choice for a mate. Jen was awake and as I got up to get ready for work, she grabbed my arm and said, "Hey wait a minute...do you feel that?" And I said, "Feel what?" She looked back at me, half asleep, and said totally deadpanned, "Hope is in the air today." I lost it.
And I'm still losing it. The idea that the presidency of Barack Obama has brought anything remotely resembling hope is demolished to the point of insanity when you consider that more Americans than ever think their kids will have it worse off than them. The idea that the presidency of Barack Obama has brought anything remotely resembling change is destroyed to the point of craziness when you consider that the worst deficits of George W. Bush have been doubled, tripled, and quadrupled by his successor.
But perhaps the biggest fraud of all was the idea that Barack Obama was going to be ushering in a new era of civility, unity and harmony. He would be the post-racial president who healed our feuds and disagreements. After all, it was just a matter of being pragmatic, he told us, not ideological. And once elected he has delivered the most ideologically driven, bitter partisan administration in our history. And the proof is in the pudding:
President Obama ran - and won - in 2008 on the idea of uniting the country. But, each of his first three years in office have marked historic highs in political polarization, with Democrats largely approving of him and Republicans deeply disapproving.
For 2011, Obama's third year in office, an average of 80 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing in Gallup tracking polls, as compared to 12 percent of Republicans who felt the same way. That's a 68-point partisan gap, the highest for any president's third year in office ? ever. (The previous high was George W. Bush in 2007, when he had a 59 percent difference in job approval ratings.)
In 2010, the partisan gap between how Obama was viewed by Democrats versus Republicans stood at 68 percent; in 2009, it was 65 percent. Both were the highest marks ever for a president's second and first years in office, respectively.
Now, the Post tries to explain part of this away as just an indication of how polarized Americans have become on their own. It has nothing to do with Obama, of course. He's just the victim of a bitter divide he did not cause, has not exacerbated, and only wishes to soothe. Yes, no doubt about it. Telling Republicans to sit in the back of the bus, inflaming class envy and warfare, telling your opposition that elections have consequences and you won, having surrogates describe and refer to your political opposition as terrorists, holding partisan rallies at memorial services for the Tucson slain...yes, it's all part of bringing us together than Obama has tried desperately to do.
Fearing folks might see through that one, the Post went on to offer a few other explanations:
Democrats will point out that Republicans in Congress have played a significant part in the polarization; the congressional GOP has stood resolutely against almost all of Obama's top priorities. And Obama's still-high popularity among the Democratic base also exacerbates the gap.
So it's fair to say that if Democrats would quit being so bull-headed and recognize that we are all suffering because of the idiotic policies coming from their man, if they would just humbly raise their hands, nod culpably and acknowledge, "Our bad in appointing this guy," we could narrow the gap of polarization. So what say you, Dems? Ready to just recognize what the rest of the country knows? That this is a disastrous presidency? Do it for the sake of unity!
Now, I will add that it's fair to say that the Republicans share blame for the polarization. One side can't polarize without the other, I suppose. Fair enough. But to suggest that Barack Obama has done anything to heal that divide or fuse that gap is as silly as saying you're going to cause the rise of the oceans to begin to slow or cause the planet to begin to heal. Now who was it that promised that again?