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On the national level, Obama continues to attack his opponents as obstructionists without explaining how and why his agenda has made America better in the last two years. We are having no debate on whether the greater good is best served by a larger state or more individual freedom. Democratic congressional candidates are either running against the president or despite him. Very few of their campaign ads say, “I voted for nationalized health care, more stimulus, cash-for-clunkers, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. Help return me to Congress to finish the job with card check, amnesty, cap-and-trade, and higher taxes on the rich.”

I guess they’re using a different playbook: on the national level, compare Republicans to the racist reactionaries of old that opposed abolition and civil rights, and on the local level unearth skeletons and nastiness — anything, in other words, except debate over the record of 2009–10.

The result is that President Obama, by design and deliberate intent, is proving to be the most polarizing figure in recent memory — widening the gulf between the parties, trying to rev up a small base by demonizing an oppositional counterpart, creating a them-vs.-us atmosphere among races and ethnic groups, and in the process embarrassing a captive media by proving that the hard Right’s once-shrill prediction that Obama would continue to be the polarizer he had always been, in the Alinsky, Ayers, and Reverend Wright mode, were, well, more or less prescient.



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