Jewish World Review August 4, 2011 4 Menachem-Av, 5771
Spare Us the Sermons, Mr. President
By Victor Davis Hanson
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | During the recent debt crisis, President Obama talked about the need for bipartisan compromise and, as in the past, urged civility. Giving ground and engaging in polite discourse, of course, can be noble aims. But, like most one-eyed-jack politicians, Obama has rarely embraced the admirable qualities he advocates -- a fact increasingly evident to a skeptical public.
In 2006, then-Senator Obama voted against the Bush administration's request to raise the debt ceiling -- when the national debt was about 60 percent of what it is now. He did not show up for similar votes in 2007 and 2008. In that regard, Senate Majority Leader
In fact, in 2007 the
President Obama has repeatedly derided the sort of Republican partisanship that led the current minority party in the
After the tragic shooting of Rep.
During the last three years, in almost every debate -- deficit reduction, taxes, illegal immigration -- Obama has smeared the motives of his political opponents. He suggested that critics of illegal immigration wished to add moats and alligators to help close the border, and that they planned to arrest parents and children on their way to get ice cream. He advised that Latinos "should punish our enemies." He accused opponents who wanted balanced budgets of abandoning children suffering from autism and Down syndrome.
Obama's partisan rhetoric has always been rough. He called his political adversaries on taxes and the debt "hostage takers" who engaged in "hand to hand combat," and needed to be relegated to the proverbial back seat. Obama even suggested that AIG executives were metaphorical terrorists: "They've got a bomb strapped to them and they've got their hand on the trigger."
In an appeal to voters, Obama urged that they not act calmly, but get angry: "I don't want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry!" The polarizing talk was the logical follow-up to his campaign hype of 2008, when he ridiculed the "clingers" of
Obama's inflammatory language and tough metaphors are not all that unusual in the American political tradition. But what is odd is that a habitual participant in brass-knuckles political infighting would call for the sort of civility that he himself did not and will not abide by.
We are now engaged in a continuing debate about debt, taxes and spending. Both sides have vastly different ideas about how to solve our financial problems, and they will continue to embrace tough talk to win over public opinion to their respective sides. We hope for the best argumentation but expect the worst -- democratic politics being what it is. And President Obama, the past master of bare-fisted partisan invective, knows that better than anyone.
So spare us any more of the bottled piety, Mr. President. Instead, just make the argument to the public that borrowing
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Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
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