Monday, August 29, 2016

Barack Obama: The Divisive President

It is becoming clearer and clearer that, as a candidate (and potentially as President) Donald Trump is committed to becoming everything Obama's worst critics said he was. For example, a (bizarre) gig on Obama is that he is lost without a Teleprompter--today, when Trump gives a speech with one, Republicans breathe a sigh of relief.

Obama, allegedly a trained constitutional scholar, is commonly said to know nothing about the Constitution. Trump has pledged to defend Articles 1-12 (it has 7).

Obama, a former community organizer and then junior Senator was said to absolutely lack the intellectual and experiential chops to be president--but Trump has stumbled over things such as the Nuclear Triad, admits he can't tell the players apart (to Hugh Hewitt, not exactly a Liberal host), and seems to have very little idea of how state or government functions.

Perhaps nowhere is this so evident as in Trump's divisiveness. While Obama's racial and class divisions are certain a matter of record when it comes to conservative media, Trump's are a matter of math: race, class, and gender are more divided by Donald Trump as a candidate than ever before. In fact, his division is so strong that it crosses reasonably firm partisan lines leading many white women and white college-educated men (normally strong Republicans) into Hillary territory.

Never mind polling that shows him 99-1 out of favor with Black Americans.

However, The Omnivore is still quite interested in this situation for one reason: while it is an article of faith among many that Obama is a terribly divisive--and intentionally divisive--president, it isn't especially clear to The Omnivore what, precisely, Obama does or did that was so divisive.

Now: confirmation bias is a powerful thing--so let's go to the tape and look at what Obama's critics claim has made him divisive.

Obama's Methods of Division: A History

When The Omnivore puts 'Obama Divisive President' into Google, what are the top-line charges against POTUS? Let's see:

August 26, 2016: PowerLine - Who Made America Hate Again?
In the earliest days of his administration, Obama began a pattern of stirring up hate against police officers by intervening in a trivial incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts, deriding policemen as “stupid.”
Obama and others in his administration stirred up hate against whites on the part of African-Americans, as when Joe Biden outrageously told a black crowd that “[Republicans are] going to put y’all back in chains.”
Obama incited hatred against police officers in particular, and whites in general, as, for example, when he sent a White House delegation to the funeral of a black thug who had been killed in self-defense by a white police officer, as his own Justice Department later found.
This is an interesting slew of allegations. The first goes back to the very beginning of Obama's presidency where he called the act of arresting someone for breaking into their own home stupid--not the policeman in question, or even policemen in general. The second goes back to 2012 with a line by Biden.

It's a fair enough charge--but if we are going to start including surrogates and VP's, candidates will have an awful lot to answer for.

The most recent one deals with Obama sending a delegation to Michael Brown's funeral. Whether you see this as trying to calm racial tensions or show compassion for the grieving family--or attempting to start a race war, will, it appears, depend on where you stand. Notably, however, Bush went to a Mosque immediately after 9/11 and was not accused of being pro-Islamic terror.

July 15, 2016: NRO - How Obama Divides America
At the funeral service for five slain Dallas cops, President Barack Obama delivered another one of his needlessly politicized lectures. As is customary these days, those who were critical of his rhetoric were branded racists and unthinking haters.
In this case, just a few months ago, Obama had to address another mass shooting. He spoke out against easy access to guns.  It was in December of 2012 that Obama started calling out for less access to guns in his speeches--that was the Sandy Hook shootings. He had been called to speak on four mass shootings before that, beginning in 2009. So maybe Obama's high-handed, divisive rhetoric started in very, very late 2012?

December 27, 2015: PJ Media - Bitter Clingers 2.0
Does Obama believe that if he had balanced the budget, continued the prior war on terror against radical Islam, cut out the incoherent class-warfare rhetoric, kept peacekeepers in Iraq, enforced federal laws, avoided racially polarizing rhetoric, and sought to reform the tax code and entitlements rather than drive through Obamacare with prevarication and without a single Republican vote, his popularity ratings would now be at 43%?
Here Victor Davis Hanson calls back to the original Bitter-Clinger statement and then decides that if Obama's policies had been Republican he would be enjoying a much higher approval ratings. This July, Obama's Approval Rating stood at 53--equal in the same period to Ronald Reagan. Considering that Obama's policy has not changed, perhaps something else has.

March 23, 2012: ABC - Gingrich Calls Obama's Treyvon Martin Remarks 'Disgraceful[
He went added that it's "just nonsense dividing this country up. It is a tragedy this young man was shot. It would have been a tragedy if he had been Puerto Rican or Cuban or if he had been white or if he had been Asian American of if he'd been a Native American. At some point we ought to talk about being Americans. When things go wrong to an American. It is sad for all Americans."
Gingrich, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, said: "Trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong. I really find it appalling."
This is in response to a question (i.e. not a prepared remark) that was posed to Obama on the killing that was making headlines. His full statement was this:
Well, I'm the head of the executive branch, and the Attorney General reports to me so I've got to be careful about my statements to make sure that we're not impairing any investigation that's taking place right now.
But obviously, this is a tragedy. I can only imagine what these parents are going through. And when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together -- federal, state and local -- to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.
So I'm glad that not only is the Justice Department looking into it, I understand now that the governor of the state of Florida has formed a task force to investigate what's taking place. I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen. And that means that examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident.
But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.
Keep in mind that (a) Gingrich is disgusted by the above and (b) by 2016, Obama is being criticized for having sent a delegation to the funeral of a 'thug.'
October 30, 2010: Washington Post - A Divisive Obama Undercuts the Presidency
He has regularly attacked his predecessor, the House minority leader and - directly from the stump - candidates running for offices below his own. He has criticized the American people suggesting that they are "reacting just to fear" and faulted his own base for "sitting on their hands complaining."
As a charge, this is especially interesting. Obama attacked Bush and Boehner--two people that Donald Trump has roundly criticized and were often held up by the right as everything wrong with the GOP Establishment. Of course we don't get the nature of these attacks here, just that they are 'personal.'

The Fact Is That Obama Was 'Divisive' Before He Was Ever President

Obama's "divisiveness" actually started in 2008 when Hillary first launched the attack against him. His guns and religion and then his pastor were the basis for it. Attacks on Obama's policy, statements on mass shootings, and remarks about racial crime are simply extensions of a strategy that started before Obama had done much of anything.

He was deemed divisive for (a) sitting in a black church with a pastor that said a bunch of bad things (note: other candidates regularly get a pass for things their church says) and (b) talking in blunt terms about the alienation that people in rural areas are feeling. Since then, it has changed over time--the "divisive events" become more current, more resonant, but the idea is the same--Obama is divisive--it'll be applied to whatever is closest at hand.

So, of course, we now have an actually racially divisive candidate to prepare him to. Can you imagine Donald Trump's presidential remarks following a Sandy Hook?

1 comment:

  1. > it'll be applied to whatever is closest at hand.
    ...Or to *whomever* is next in office.
    This isn't about Obama. It's about "the other side", and it doesn't matter who that is.