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Debates Forum

  1. 06 May '10 15:46
    "Not long ago, of course, sophisticated opinion was offended by a president who divided the world into good and evil. "


    The Bully Party

    Matthew Continetti – Mon May 3, 4:54 pm ET


    Rather than engage with these objections, however, the president has decided to slime the Republicans as defenders of the status quo. He's deployed the same army of straw men, the same Manichean oratory, that he used during the health care fight. In his April 22 speech at Cooper Union, for instance, President Obama divided the world into those who "join me," and those who support the "battalions of financial industry lobbyists descending on Capitol Hill." For the president, the only middle ground is where he's standing. Reasonable alternatives to his policies simply do not exist. It is Obama alone who determines which arguments are "legitimate" and which are "misleading." It's rhetorical blackmail: Agree with me, the president is saying, or I'll call you a liar and a hack.

    Not long ago, of course, sophisticated opinion was offended by a president who divided the world into good and evil. But no one seems to care anymore. Nor does anyone seem particularly bothered by the president's redefinition of political compromise. Under the old definition, an accommodation took place when both parties negotiated over the fine points of the matter at hand. They brokered deals such as the Gang of 14 agreement on President Bush's appellate court nominees in 2005. But the problem with the old way is that it hinders Obama's ability to score political points and rack up dubious legislative "accomplishments" before the midterm elections. So it's been replaced by a version of compromise that is indistinguishable from ideological surrender.

    On financial reform, good-faith discussions between Dodd and ranking Republican Richard Shelby were slowing the president's post-health care momentum. Hence last week's bizarre spectacle in which Senator Harry Reid held three cloture votes to end debate and bring the Dodd bill to the floor. Obama and Reid know the Dodd bill will pass with bipartisan support. But they held the votes so they can run 30-second spots in October that say the Republicans serve Wall Street. Never mind that the big banks support the Dodd bill. Never mind that the employees and PAC of our Public Enemy Number One, Goldman Sachs, have made the bank the largest corporate contributor to the Democratic party since 1989. As was the case with the stimulus and health care, facts are less important than hectoring the GOP.

    The Democratic response to dissent is a lot like their governing style: partisan, arrogant, and self-righteous. ...