The Corner

That Post-Partisan President

In Corner posts yesterday, I talked about Obama’s latest insult of Republicans — we do what we’re told, while Democrats think for themselves — and asked whether George W. Bush had ever so insulted Democrats. A reader sent me an excerpt from David Frum’s excellent book The Right Man, an account of Bush in the first year of his presidency:

Bush would not criticize individual Democratic officeholders by name. He would not criticize the Democratic Party in general. In the late fall of 2001, when Bush’s approval rating stood above 70 percent and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was bottling up his economic agenda, the education bill, trade promotion authority, and even the increase in the debt ceiling necessary to finance the war in Afghanistan and the reconstruction of New York, Bush still squeezed his lips tight. He once reluctantly agreed to test FDR’s old dodge and condemn the “Democratic leadership” in one of his Saturday morning radio addresses, but he almost immediately regretted this act of blatant politicking. Thereafter, he reverted to a blander phrase: “the leadership in the Senate” — with no mention of party labels at all.

I think of Obama’s knocking of Bush on foreign soil — and to a group of students! (That was in Turkey.) I think of his laughing at a death-to-Rush joke. I think of this latest jibe against Republicans, delivered at his New York fundraiser. And I think of the famous putdown by JFK of Richard Nixon, a putdown so cherished by Democrats: “No class.”

Maybe Obama will get better — and remember that, “post-partisanship” aside, he is president of all.