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How Obama divided America

The President’s aggressive policy agenda has reignited partisan politics


 

How Obama divided AmericaIt was the largest protest march, so far, of Obama’s presidency. They came from around the country on Sept. 12, tens of thousands of people filling Pennsylvania Avenue en route to the White House, where only months earlier an ecstatic crowd had celebrated the election of the first black president of the United States and the end of the Bush era.

Now they came in anger, with signs declaring “Tax Slave Revolt” and “Stop Spending our Grandkids’ Futures,” and chanting “No Obamacare.” One sign read, “National health care doesn’t work. Just ask Canada.” Some aimed personally at the President. “Let’s see your records! Let’s see your birth certificate!” shouted one man into a megaphone. Others chanted simply, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

Unlike the young and racially mixed crowds that poured out for the inauguration, this crowd was overwhelmingly white, and mostly older. These were the people Obama was supposed to reach, to soothe, to win over with his “post-partisan” politics and his stirring campaign slogan of uniting “Red and Blue America into a United States of America.” Instead, Red America was not greeting him with flowers. “We came unarmed—this time!” read one placard. During the hard-fought Democratic primary contest against Hillary Rodham Clinton, part of Obama’s argument was that he was going to move past rigid divides between the political left and right, that he offered a generational turning of the page on the ideological battles of the 1960s that had moulded Clinton’s generation. But now this promise seems to ring as hollow as candidate George W. Bush’s pledge in the 2000 campaign to be “a uniter, not a divider.”

Over the summer, town halls discussing Obama’s health care reform turned into shouting matches, with some attendees showing up with weapons. When the President prepared a motivational back-to-school speech to schoolchildren, some parents pulled their kids from class to escape what they feared would be liberal brainwashing. (A prepared lesson plan would have asked kids what they can do to “help the President.” It was scrapped.) When he stood up to give a speech to a joint session of Congress about health care reform, a Republican from South Carolina took the unprecedented step of shouting, “You lie!” Congressional Democrats censured him, but some in the Washington protest crowd carried signs that read, “Joe Wilson is my hero.” Former president Jimmy Carter concluded that the backlash had to do with Obama’s race. “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man,” Carter said on Sept. 15. When comedian David Letterman asked Obama if he agreed with Carter, Obama joked, “I think it’s important to realize that I was actually black before the election.” A White House spokesman portrayed the turmoil as merely a policy “disagreement.”

It is more than that.

Since March, a yawning gap in approval ratings for Obama has opened up between Republicans and Democrats—even bigger than George W. Bush’s. It has led critics to call him not only a polarizing figure, but the most polarizing president in history. Obama’s election win was respectable, but close: 53 per cent of the vote, compared to John McCain’s 46. Still, he entered office on a wave of popularity. His approval ratings were a much stronger 64 per cent prior to his inauguration in January, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press; some polls had him in the 70s. Now he has dropped to 52 per cent approval, with only 18 per cent of Republicans approving of him, a drop from 30 per cent in April. Obama’s partisan gap is bigger than Bush’s because more Democrats still back him—82 per cent, down from 92 per cent in the spring. “When a president’s job approval is higher than the vote in the election, that suggests there are people who voted against him giving him the benefit of the doubt,” says Michael Dimock, a pollster at Pew, which does extensive presidential polling. “He started from a very high point in February and March, but his approval ratings have fallen substantially.”

Indeed. The proverbial honeymoon ended quickly: the seeds of division were planted with the massive US$787-billion economic stimulus bill—which drew plenty of criticism and not a single vote from Republicans in the House (and only three GOP votes in the Senate) when it passed in February—and the ballooning deficit. A Pew poll this month found that 61 per cent of Republicans consider Obama “not trustworthy,” up from 35 per cent in February. The President has also lost support among moderate and conservative Democrats. And his support among independents is down too.

The story of Obama’s current decline can be boiled down to three parts. One involves an underlying cultural shift in America, one is Obama’s aggressive policy agenda and some missteps in how he is implementing it, and the third is the largely overlooked role of George W. Bush.

There is a significant amount of personal animosity to Obama—some 10 per cent of Americans falsely believe he was born in Kenya, not in the U.S., and is not legally entitled to be president. But the loud conservative backlash brewing in the country is bigger than Obama, and started in the waning days of the Bush administration. There had long been a drumbeat of criticism on the right over the “un-conservative” things Bush did: from his plans for amnesty for illegal aliens to his massive deficits, and passing the largest new entitlement since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs of the 1960s—a Medicare prescription drug benefit for seniors—without finding the money for it. But a watershed moment came in September 2008 when the financial crisis began to unfold and the Bush administration swiftly moved in. There was the US$700-billion Wall Street bailout (followed by revelations that top executives still received lucrative bonuses while taxpayers footed the bill for the survival of their companies), and then Washington’s expansion into a dizzying number of companies. The government now accounts for 26 per cent of the American economy, the most since the Second World War. It owns the lion’s share of insurer AIG, has a majority stake in General Motors, and finances most consumer credit card and mortgage lending in the country.

The Obama administration insists the measures are temporary, but a large number of Americans are bewildered at the massive, rapid changes they have witnessed. Many of the protesters who came to Washington on Sept. 12 carried signs denouncing Obama or Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, but just as many were raising their voice against “big government” and the debt being left to their children and grandchildren. They were mostly Republicans, but they were not shy about denouncing Bush or congressional GOPers either. “When Bush said we need to abandon free market principles to save the free market, that’s when I almost went blind!” said Jim Wilford, a 33-year-old Republican entrepreneur from Mays Landing, N.J., who carried a sign comparing members of Congress to space aliens. What brought him into the streets? “Everything,” he said, “The whole government is jacked up—Republicans and Democrats. The common people have to make their voices heard.” He listed as his concerns out-of-control government spending, health care reform, the auto bailout, and “the socialistic and Marxist ideologies invading the consciousness of the government.”

If Bush’s Wall Street bailout and the growth of government got many Americans steamed, Obama took those embers and lit a bonfire. “When he was elected, I thought he was very sincere. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought that things would go well,” recalled Brenda Pitts, a 64-year-old retiree from Charleston, S.C., who calls herself a middle-of-the-line fiscal conservative. But she was aghast at Obama’s ambitious agenda, which encompasses spending on everything from alternative energy, road building, health care and education to tax credits for homebuyers. “He’s spending too much money!” she said. “I think our country is going in the wrong direction. We are going toward socialism. I am against socialized medicine.”

To say that Obama’s policies are socialistic is an overstatement. He has allowed the idea of a government-run health insurance alternative to wither in Congress, and is now backing a reform that would, in essence, allow the federal government to subsidize the working poor to buy private insurance (an approach that Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney pushed through in Massachusetts while he was governor there). It’s also a plan that Hillary Clinton last week referred to as “so conservative.”

However, the big picture of a vast and whirlwind expansion of government power and spending in the past year is undeniable. While Democrats say that Obama inherited a record deficit from Bush, Republicans counter that Obama’s “borrow-and-spend” policies will triple the national debt by 2019—from US$5.8 trillion to US$17.3 trillion. And the anxiety and backlash that has produced in a nation where half the population considers capitalism synonymous with patriotism should not come as a surprise.

Obama’s contribution to the divisiveness that continues to bedevil America has not been in his personal style, which remains conciliatory and open. “Obama himself is about the least divisive president you could imagine,” says Leo Ribuffo, a political historian at George Washington University. “Unlike Carter or Clinton, Obama temperamentally really is a compromiser. That may have to do with his experiences growing up or his understanding that a black president can frighten whites. You could argue that he’s not fighting back enough.”

But on substance, he has done little to assuage concerns about the growth of big government and the ballooning debt. On the contrary, he moved ahead with an ambitious agenda. And health care reform, in particular, was bound to be divisive. But rather than apply his personal middle-of-the-road approach from the beginning, he let the more liberal-leaning leaders in the House—where Democrats hold a 256 to 178 seat majority—set the terms of the debate. The bill put forward by the House, which would cost more than a trillion dollars, and which includes a government-run health insurance option, was anathema to many conservatives and is unlikely to survive the Senate, where the Democratic advantage is a slimmer 59 to 40.

On top of health care reform, the scope of his remaining agenda is fuelling anxiety. “Most people are just upset at how big and how fast this guy is trying to go,” said David McClatchy, a 73-year-old retiree from Philadelphia who drove to the Washington protest with buddies in a rented van and brandished a sign that read, “Stop spending my money.” A better approach to health care reform, McClatchy said, would have been to start with legal reforms to make it more difficult to sue doctors so they would order fewer unnecessary tests, and then to subsidize poor people to buy health insurance—“Not everything at once.” McClatchy opposes the growth of government: “I didn’t agree with Bush’s spending either.” But as for Obama, “He lied about the kind of person he was. I think he is a Marxist.”

But the promise of unification may have been illusory from the start. “For about a hundred years the mainstream of American politics has been in denial about conflict, and emphasizes that we should all work together,” says Ribuffo. “There is considerable real conflict in the U.S. It’s not Pakistan or Afghanistan, and we don’t have a secessionist party controlling one of our states, but there are real differences.”

It comes down to a fundamental ideological rift over the role of government—a mainstay of American politics regardless of who is in power. “The U.S. is not Canada, France or Sweden,” Ribuffo says. “It has a long anti-statist tradition of powerful conservatives. And there is no reason to think it would go away. I know to the rest of the world it may seem odd for these bits of government intervention to seem extraordinary. But we have to remember that the American Republican party is the most successful free market party in the world.”

Indeed, listening to some of the protesters who converged on Washington on Sept. 12 suggests the chasm may be unbridgeable. Retiree Pitts blames Obama for having “totally failed” to unite the country. As for Bush’s failure to do so, she blames it on “Democratic smear tactics” against the Iraq war. “No one could ever convince me that Saddam didn’t have weapons of mass destruction,” she says. “He just had them hidden.”

Likewise, protester Wilford, a father of four, can’t be convinced to support Obama’s health care reform, which he opposes on principle—even though he cannot afford to buy health insurance for his own family, but earns too much to qualify for Medicaid, the program for low-income people. “We don’t have health care. We will pay for it on our own. We’re health conscious,” said Wilford. If he gets a large bill, “We’ll work it out with the hospital.” He has no interest in the health care reform which is supposed to help make it more affordable for people in his position to buy insurance. “It’s all a power grab. It’s disgusting,” he said.

The Pew Center has been polling on a variety of political questions over the year, and Dimock sees two major trends that both point to political divisiveness and alienation. First, Democrats and Republicans are growing further apart on fundamental questions. “There is more divisiveness on social welfare and the government safety net,” he says. “There are bigger gaps over affirmative action. There is more divisiveness on assertiveness in foreign policy, on environmental issues. Our polls suggest that Republicans have grown much more conservative in recent years.” The second trend is a growing alienation of grassroots America from Washington and the two-party system. One striking result is that more people identify as “independents” than at any time since 1992, when a strong independent candidate, Ross Perot, ran for president. “We have been tracking for a long time a growing divisiveness in American politics and a growing frustration with the federal government and the way politics is done,” Dimock says. “Maybe it was always there, but it has gotten a lot more intense in recent years,” he adds.

The growth in divisions between Republicans and Democrats does not mean, however, that Democrats are becoming more liberal—another obstacle for Obama’s agenda. On the contrary: when Pew did a major survey on Americans’ values in May, they realized it was a major misperception that Obama’s election was a vote for a bigger role for government.

In fact, fewer Democrats supported government borrowing to support a social safety net than had two years earlier. “On virtually every question on the role of government we saw the numbers keep steady or decline, especially on the social safety net, which is remarkable in a time of economic crisis,” Dimock says. “Even on regulation, in light of the failure of financial regulation, there was no huge decline in basic belief [among Democrats and Americans at large] that the free market is essential. There was no sea change in liberal direction with Obama’s election. Skepticism of government only grew with the crisis.” As a result, there has been no populist pro-government wave for Obama to ride.

Obama has so far not been as confrontational with his opponents as Bill Clinton, who gambled on a stand-off with Republicans in 1995 over a budget dispute, in which their filibustering shut down the government and hurt the GOP’s image with voters. “If Obama was more confrontational he might just say, okay, filibuster, talk yourself to death and we’ll see how the population responds to your holding up the government,” says Ribuffo. But Ribuffo also notes that Obama does not need to unite the country behind his agenda to get it done. “It’s a myth that important legislation gets passed when the country is united,” he says. “It gets passed when one group has a manageable majority and the minority is complaining. That was the case with Social Security under Roosevelt and with tax cuts under Reagan.”

In fact, several recent polls show Obama’s favourability ratings stabilizing. “The people who are put off by the nature of the health care bill formed their opinions early on and the impact has happened by now,” says Dimock. “Obama is not losing more people over health care anymore. Those people were turned away in July and August. The vast majority of Americans want to see health care reforms. Whether they are comfortable with the details is contestable, but he still does have the basic balance of public opinion on his side when he stands before Congress and says he wants something done this year.” Obama may not be able to claim he has unified the nation, but, at least for now, he doesn’t need to.


 
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How Obama divided America

  1. Why is it Obama's fault?

    What responsibility do Fox-news, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, the entire republican caucus and the supposedly more respectable MSM for generating and not effectively pointing out the crazy?

    • ACORN. ACORN is responsible for the housing collapse and played a huge role in the economic collapse of America and the world. Obama was a community orginizor for ACORN – he also defended ACORN in several law suits. Obama also gave ACORN $800,000 for sound and lighting equipment.

      • Wow, $800,000?! Do you realize how little $800,000 is when discussing policital matters? That is absolute pocket change when we are dealing with millions and trillions of dollars being transferred from one political group to another. You are gravely misinformed! How could one small organization like ACORN be responsible for a HUGE role in the economic collaps and the entire housing collapse? You should utilize your ''common sense'' and not use ACORN as a scapegoat….

      • "ACORN is responsible for the housing collapse" – Really? this is what you actually believe? Where do you people come from? These titles "Marxist, socialist, Kenyan, Muslim, etc" its so depressing that this passes for debate in America. So depressing.

    • because he actually is a socialist, whereas Bush just went native after too may years in Washington.

  2. Apparently, it's "common sense" to just plain MAKE UP things like that "Obama was a community orginizor (sic) for ACORN".

    For me, I think it makes the writer look unreasonable and makes me very unlikely to put any value in anything they say!

    • Well said.

  3. Obama told us, when he ran, that he would change America and that community interests are more important than are individual interests. Isn't that a prescription for socialism? There is a new book out describing the change from libertarian policies to Rousseau and Marx idea in the CHANGING FACE OF DEMOCRATS at Amazon.com or noted on the site, http://www.claysamerica.com. America was the only nation in the world built around the importance of individual freedom, something long detested by the left…the rest of the world.

  4. The story behind this article is less the divisiveness of Obama than the decoupling of right-wing rhetoric from reality. The fact that one in 10 Americans believe that their president was born in Kenya, and that a far higher proportion feel that he is a Marxist/Communist/Socialist indicates that the splintering and tribalisation of political discourse in the States is having very real and very negative policy implications.
    We can quibble over how Obama could have better handled both the stimulus package and healthcare debate, but the fact of the matter is that the Republican Party and many independent libertarian voters are simply angry with everything political in Washington without knowledge or understanding of the issues. Mass political illiteracy and FOX News have poisoned American politics, to the point where it's becoming one of the biggest obstacles to the country's progress and prosperity.
    But it certainly makes me feel better about Canada.

  5. In 50 years we will have muslim law and this will not be a big deal. It will be legal. Diversity is the answer to all of our problems. Liberals and political correctness coupled with acorn is the enemy of the truth.

  6. I enjoyed this article. I'd say the author neglected one major piece of the puzzle though: the Democrat reaction to the protests.

    When people originally began showing up in huge numbers at townhall meetings and "Tea Party" protests, the Democrats (e.g. Nancy Pelosi) suggested that it was "astroturf", or that the protesters were either paid or bused in to feign grassroots outrage. This did not go over well with thousands of Americans who were attending with genuine concerns and observing that most of the people in the room were their friends and neighbors. Open admissions by Congressmen that they were voting on the Bill without having bothered to read it didn't help either.

    Matters were worsened when major media organizations like CNN and MSNBC took it upon themselves to label the protesters "Teabaggers", a fairly disgusting sexual slur.

    The Democrats and their media allies finally completely stepped in it when they played the race card. Accusing the protesters of being motivated by bigotry rather than policy concerns, a transparent ploy to bully people into shutting up, led to sincere anger not just at the policies being enacted but the bullies trying to enact them.

    The US is now more polarized than any time since the Civil War. It began with controversial policies, but the real damage is due to the Democrats' vilification of honestly concerned citizens. I can't understand how this article missed this dominant consideration.

  7. I enjoyed this article. I'd say the author neglected one major piece of the puzzle though: the Democrat reaction to the protests.

    When people originally began showing up in huge numbers at townhall meetings and "Tea Party" protests, the Democrats (e.g. Nancy Pelosi) suggested that it was "astroturf", or that the protesters were either paid or bused in to feign grassroots outrage. This did not go over well with thousands of Americans who were attending with genuine concerns and observing that most of the people in the room were their friends and neighbors. Open admissions by Congressmen that they were voting on the Bill without having bothered to read it didn't help either.

    Matters were worsened when major media organizations like CNN and MSNBC took it upon themselves to label the protesters "Teabaggers", a fairly disgusting sexual slur.

    The Democrats and their media allies finally completely stepped in it when they played the race card. Accusing the protesters of being motivated by bigotry rather than policy concerns, a transparent ploy to bully people into shutting up, led to sincere anger not just at the policies being enacted but the bullies trying to enact them.

    The US is now more polarized than at any time since the Civil War. It began with controversial policies, but the real damage is due to the Democrats' vilification of honestly concerned citizens. I can't understand how this article missed this dominant consideration.

  8. I enjoyed this article. I'd say the author neglected one major piece of the puzzle though: the Democrat reaction to the protests.

    When people originally began showing up in huge numbers at townhall meetings and "Tea Party" protests, the Democrats (e.g. Nancy Pelosi) suggested that it was "astroturf", or that the protesters were either paid or bused in to feign grassroots outrage. This did not go over well with thousands of Americans who were attending with genuine concerns and observing that most of the people in the room were their friends and neighbors. Open admissions by Congressmen that they were voting on the Bill without having bothered to read it didn't help either.

    Matters were worsened when major media organizations like CNN and MSNBC took it upon themselves to label the protesters "Teabaggers", a fairly disgusting sexual slur.

    The Democrats and their media allies finally completely stepped in it when they played the race card. Accusing the protesters of being motivated by bigotry rather than policy concerns, a transparent ploy to bully people into shutting up, led to sincere anger not just at the policies being enacted but the bullies trying to enact them.

    The US is now more polarized than at any time since the Civil War. It began with controversial policies, but the real damage is due to the Democrats' vilification of honestly concerned citizens. I can't understand how this article missed such a dominant consideration.

  9. Meet the new boss…..same as the old boss. At least Ron Pauls bill to audit the Federal Reserve passed, so there may actually be a concrete result of these protests and the general dissatisfaction with government.

  10. Will it be shock and awe everyone feels that voted for him.

  11. Congratulations to that Wilford fellow. If only Canadians aspired to self-reliance…

  12. Obama was exposed as a far left leaning candidate during the primaries and also the election ,but the mainstream media and people in general chose to believe he was a centrist and was a candidate that would " change" the corruptness of Washington.What's amazing is in the few short months of his Presidency his economic stimulus plan went primarily to his supporters and groups like the corrupt ACORN even giving 2.5Million to promote Democracy and Human rights in Libya.
    Apologizing to mid east human rights violators for America while turning his back on Israel and bringing it all home with his appeasement of Iran.
    I wish him the best of luck in the future in these challenging times but for now he's looking like a Community Organizer and chief not the President.

  13. Great article. Don't know why Savage does not have a blog, she seems to have some good insights.

  14. I enjoyed this article but the author neglected a major consideration: the Democrat reaction to the protests.

    When people originally began showing up in huge numbers at townhall meetings and "Tea Party" protests, the Democrats (e.g. Nancy Pelosi) suggested that it was "astroturf", or that the protesters were either paid or bused in to feign grassroots outrage. This did not go over well with thousands of Americans who were attending with genuine concerns and observing that most of the people in the room were their friends and neighbors. Open admissions by Congressmen that they were voting on the Bill without having bothered to read it didn't help either.

    Matters worsened when major media organizations like CNN and MSNBC took it upon themselves to label the protesters "Teabaggers", a fairly disgusting sexual slur.

    The Democrats and their media allies finally completely stepped in it when they played the race card. Accusing the protesters of being motivated by bigotry rather than policy concerns, a transparent ploy to bully people into shutting up, led to sincere anger not just at the policies being enacted but the bullies trying to enact them.

    The US is now more polarized than at any time since the Civil War. It began with controversial policies, but the real damage is due to the Democrats' vilification of honestly concerned citizens. I can't understand how this article missed (other than a brief mention of Carter's accusations) such a dominant consideration.

  15. As I recall, the alternative was McCain/Palin.

  16. I love it. Eight years of brutal partisanship, inflamed on both sides by near-psychotic rhetoric, and now it's Obama's fault it hasn't gone away in a flash.

    I sure wish those Belgians hadn't started the First World War, too.

  17. Boy this magazine has become a copy rag for the right wing of the US. Note that there is little mention of the Republicans in this story. Democrats were blamed for some of the controversy in Iraq but the Republicans are presumed innocent when it comes to divisions in the country. They have chosen to assume they did not lose the election.

    It is also important to note that some of the decline in Obamas popularity is from the Left. Many progressives, who came out hugely for Obama in the election, are disenchanted with his healthcare reform. They would prefer single payer or a public option ( a recent CBS poll shows 62% favour a public option). My guess is less than 1% of those tea protesters supported Obama in the election.

    • Parisella's blog is around the corner. I think you'll be right at home there.

  18. The fact that the left tries to make it seem like it's a race issue as a method to get their agenda done. It's as if the left is incapable of believing people can actually have different beliefs than them. That's what's most sickening: the way the left so blindly believes it knows what's best for everyone.

    I used to be firmly planted on the left myself but when I finally grew up, I was able to look back on my ideals from those days, and while I see where they came from (yes, good intentions, of course), I can see just how misplaced those ideals were (and still are).

  19. I simply became tired of other people thinking they know better than myself how to run my life and as such, I've come to distrust more government. This is the fundamental difference between the Democrat and Republican supporters: Democrat supporters are okay with less government, but Republican supporters view any loss of freedom as an infringement on freedom… because well, it is an infringement on their freedom!

    Basically, the principles of the right must always be defended because it becomes twice as hard to gain back lost freedoms than it is to fight losing those freedoms in the first place.

    • Rolling Stone is not an unbiased source.National Inquirer would have been better to use.

  20. Ryan wrote: "Democrat supporters are okay with less [I assume you mean more] government, but Republican supporters view any loss of freedom as an infringement on freedom… because well, it is an infringement on their freedom! "

    Except, apparently, the Patriot Act, a massive increase in unfunded public spending on the credit of every American taxpayer, and sustained efforts to impose a religious agenda on every American using the state as their vehicle.

    But otherwise, I guess your partisan generalization is correct. :-)

    • No no, I did mean that Democrats are okay with less government, at least if you compare it to how "okay with it" Republicans are with more government.

      Yes though, are plenty of things the previous administration did that really were liberal but done under the guise of conservative. The ideals and the actions certainly strayed a bit too far from each other. It's not defensible to have spent as they've spunt (yes, a new word, just now created by myself; don't hate), but it doesn't mean it's okay then for liberals to then spend even more.

  21. Obama's policies have nothing to do with the divide being created in the US. Since Reagan took office, the right (religion and wealth) has controlled Washington, and are not about to give up that power quietly. For a generation, the US has been living a "me first" lifestyle for HealthCare, Investments, Consumption, and others. Now they see the demographics and power base moving towards the Democrats long term and are scared. That is why the Becks and Palins are out in full-force try to slow this movement towards a fairer democracy for the middle and lower income. Obama has 100s of fires to put out after 20+ years of republican waste, spending, tax cuts, foreign policy, lobbyists, deregulation, man could I go on. It's not being aggressive or assertive, it's getting down to business.

    • Your facile characterization of the principles of "self-reliance and personal choice with responsibility " as "me first" is one of the reasons that there is such a large divide. It's an offensive and intellectually lazy way to portray a sizeable group of people with a different viewpoint on the role of government.

  22. If you're white you had better not write anything critical of Obama or the lib-left politically correct crowd will accuse you of being a racist.

    Welcome to the lunacy of the left!

  23. It is naive to the extreme to state his health policies are not socialist. The only reason he has backed off to a less far-left stance is he knows he doesn't have the votes to pass it. He certainly would if he could. Also this guy a uniter? What a laugh. He is dishonest beyond belief. Anyone watch the TV show detailng his involvement with every corrupt politician in Chicago. Even their bid for the Olympics is being done to enrich his buddies, one of whom is recognized as in the top ten of the most corrupt politicians in the States. This guy is a community organizer–big deal–kinda like being a school trustee in Canuckistan. Hardly qualifies you for the job he's got.

  24. If you americans think the health care system in Canada doesn't work ask a Canadian if he would ever give it up. I'll wager over 90% would not.
    Yes there are problems but who and what system doesn't. Its man made that makes it imperfect. My mother at 92 was told yesterday by a specialist he wanted to know why her memory was up and down. yesterday afternoon he had a catscan done. No question about who will pay or anything. We still live in the better country haha.

  25. It continues to bewilder me on the meaning the word "socialism" has taken in the United States. Our army is one of the biggest socialist organization in the world, if by socialism you mean something that everyone pays for by the force of the government and which may or may not effect some or most of the population. Socialism can also mean 'community', in the sense that an organization of people that forms to help each other in need, and needs all of it's members to adhere to it's values to succeed. But what the neocons have you believe is that socialism is the 'big evil' government that puts the head of free market in a guillotine and shows no mercy. Matter of fact is that in some of the most advanced countries with the highest human development index are socialist (sweden, norway, etc.). I believe it is time to open up a dictionary, and even embrace some socialism, because it will only be a self-embrace, and not of foreign values.

  26. "The story of Obama's current decline can be boiled down to three parts. One involves an underlying cultural shift in America, one is Obama's aggressive policy agenda and some missteps in how he is implementing it, and the third is the largely overlooked role of George W. Bush."

    You forgot the Skip Gates affair. His numbers tanked among whites immediately thereafter and haven't recovered and never will recover.

    You neglected to mention that only a month or so ago Obama explicitly called for a coalition of blacks, hispanics, and women to support Democrats in the upcoming election. That is possibly the most divisive thing any American president has ever said or done and your analysis suffers immensely due to this glaring omission. He's openly calling for a race and gender war by proxy.

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