Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen, two Democratic pollsters and consultants, repeatedly have tried to warn their fellow Democrats that they are blowing it — going too far left, passing legislation disliked by the public, and ignoring the issues voters care about most. Now they’re going after Obama for his excessive divisiveness: “Rather than being a unifier, Mr. Obama has divided America on the basis of race, class and partisanship. Moreover, his cynical approach to governance has encouraged his allies to pursue a similar strategy of racially divisive politics on his behalf.”
On race, there was Gatesgate and then the New Black Panther Party scandal. As to the latter, they explain:
On an issue that has gotten much less attention, but is potentially just as divisive, the Justice Department has pointedly refused to prosecute three members of the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation at the polls on Election Day 2008.
It is the job of the Department of Justice to protect all American voters from voter discrimination and voter intimidation—whether committed by the far right, the far left, or the New Black Panthers. It is unacceptable for the Department of Justice to continue to stonewall on this issue.
No, the case is not “small potatoes’ — it goes to the heart of Obama’s promise to be post-racial and to the essence of what “equal protection” means.
It’s not just racial antagonisms that Obama has exacerbated. As Caddell and Schoen observe, no president in recent memory has played the class-warfare card and maligned private industry as much as Obama. (“He bashes Wall Street and insurance companies whenever convenient to advance his programs, yet he has been eager to accept campaign contributions and negotiate with these very same banks and corporations behind closed doors in order to advance his political agenda.”)
But it is on partisanship that Obama has really excelled. The sneering disrespect for political opponents, the refusal to engage in any genuine give-and-take with the GOP, and his obnoxious vilification of his predecessor have distinguished this White House as the most politically vindictive and obsessive (going even so far as to put political hacks in the center of foreign policy formulation) since Richard Nixon’s.
This is not just a disappointment to his starry-eyed supporters; it’s also politically disastrous for Obama. He’s managed to alienate the great swath of independent voters for whom all this is deeply troubling, if not frightening. The public may be ready for a post-post-partisan and post-post-racial president. Maybe someone who can offer hope and change from the old-style politics of personal destruction.