Critical Condition

Obama’s Partisan and Divisive Presidency

President Obama’s speech last night was an act of leadership. That’s right: The president last night drew a line in the sand unequivocally communicating to the American people that his presidency will not attempt to strike a more bipartisan tone in Washington, as he had said over and over during the campaign. No, his speech last night was clear about this. President Obama has chosen a leadership path that defies the American public, which, in poll after poll, is against him on deficit spending, excessive government intervention, climate change, the public option, and a general government takeover of health care. Indeed, Americans are rejecting Obama’s form of socialism.

The president demonstrated leadership last night in declaring once and for all that he will ignore the will of the people and pursue a radically liberal, big-government agenda on health care, government funding of abortion, and deficit spending. Let’s face it (and many Democrats agree on this): You cannot even begin to tackle health-care costs without making tort reform paramount in health-care reform. But President Obama’s prescription for paying for his health-care program amounts to, well, cutting waste from the other government-run health-care program — Medicare. So the president is going to pay for his government-run health plan by cutting waste that was created by another government-run health plan.

Mr. Obama’s speech was also short on patients’-rights protection. There was no guarantee that patients could keep their own doctors, no guarantee patients could hold on to the insurance they currently have, and no guarantee that care wouldn’t be rationed. There are also no guarantees that cost will come down or that this plan won’t add to an already outrageous deficit. Clearly, the president’s 28th speech on health care was no better, and no more convincing, than his first 27.

After a month of public outcry and polling numbers dropping like a stone over the public option and government-run health care, the president chose to listen to his teleprompter instead of the people. Rather than tapping into the will of the people expressed during a politically raucous month, the president is banking hard left. He has failed to understand that the August backlash was a message from the American public that this is not the type of change they had in mind.

Last night’s speech was just the latest in nine months of examples that he is tracking toward becoming the most partisan and divisive president in history. From billions in stimulus that have only increased job loss and failed to spur economic growth to the takeover of American companies, firing of CEOs, and the appointment of over 30 “czars” that undermine the Constitution, President Obama is leading the Democratic party down a politically ruinous road. His public attacks on health-care critics — calling them liars — were juvenile. His administration’s and party’s attacks on protesters taking the time to voice their opinions are not only unbecoming of any president, Republican or Democrat, they are bullying tactics to intimidate people from participating in debate. Chicago politics doesn’t play well in the rest of America.

By digging in as a far-left advocate of clearly defined liberalism, Obama has awakened a sleeping giant in the American public. As many pundits have rightly discerned, the August backlash was not just about health care: It was the public’s attempt to warn the president that it feels he is heading down the wrong track. This is supported in countless polls, and especially the ones that show how he’s shedding support among independent voters. August was a political warning that voters do not support the type of big-government, liberal policies the president, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid are advocating. But not to worry, Mr. President, just keep reading the teleprompter.

– Greg Mueller is president of CRC Public Relations, a strategic-communications firm based in Alexandria, Va. He served as senior adviser to presidential candidates Steve Forbes and Patrick J. Buchanan. Mr. Mueller is also a communications and media strategist for Rick Scott’s Conservatives for Patients’ Rights.