Fooling Voters Only So Long

After reeling off the list of broken Obama promises (e.g., “reducing the deficit, reining in federal spending, not allowing lobbyists to work in his administration, increasing taxes only on those who make more than $250,000, and opposing ‘government-run health care'” — as well as the pledge to televise the health-care debate on C-SPAN), Karl Rove concludes:

This all plays into a broader narrative: Mr. Obama is not the centrist or new-style bipartisan leader he presented himself to be. On many of the most basic issues raised in the campaign, and in describing the kind of leadership he would practice, Mr. Obama misled voters. Americans will overlook a lot of things when it comes to politicians—but being on the receiving end of a giant bait-and-switch game isn’t one of them.

The problem for Obama with this narrative is that it’s compelling to a broad range of voters: independents (who both liked the nonpartisan persona and are particularly aggrieved by dishonest politicians), those conservatives snookered by Obama’s campaign rhetoric, and even some Democrats who chose him over Hillary Clinton precisely because they were worn down by the partisan wars and saw in Obama the chance to build a new governing coalition. Had Obama actually accomplished something tangible in his first year — saving or creating some jobs, for example, or passing a widely supported health-care plan — all might be forgiven. But it’s the toxic mix of deceit and incompetence that riles voters.

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Fooling Voters Only So Long

Must-Reads from Magazine

Unmasking Is Not a Distraction

Democrats will regret treating this as a partisan issue.

Whenever a former Obama administration official’s name comes up in the process of investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russian sources, Democrats take the position that the right’s penchant for “whataboutism” neutralizes the implication of wrongdoing. The Democratic objective is to shame those who are committed to crafting a full and unbiased portrait of the events of 2016 into ignoring inconvenient facts, but the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee remains unintimidated.

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Will Mattis Betray the Gulf Allies?

Has Mattis gone rogue?

At the core of the Qatar dispute is the question of Qatar’s support for extremism. While many Gulf states have histories of donating to or promoting radical Islamism, many have made real reforms. Saudi Arabia, for example, became much more serious about the need to curtail support for radical groups after the Kingdom started suffering blowback with terrorists targeting foreigners living in Saudi Arabia and senior Saudi officials. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, meanwhile, has cracked down not only on the Muslim Brotherhood but has also moved to sever the life-line Egypt often provided Hamas leaders in Gaza. Qatar, however, continues to set itself above the rest in its support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Partisanship Masquerading as Wisdom

Anger over health care clouds the left's judgment.

Nate Silver spoke for most of the liberal blogosphere when he objected to the mainstream media’s coverage of Senator John McCain’s speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

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A Familiar Paranoia

Donald Trump sees disloyalty even in his closest supporters.

In a performance that would have shocked sensibilities if they weren’t already flogged to the point of numbness, President Trump delivered a nostalgic, campaign-style stem-winder on Monday to a troop of boy scouts. The commander-in-chief meandered between crippling self-pity and gauche triumphalism; he moaned about his treatment by the “fake media,” praised himself for the scale of his Electoral College victory, and pondered aloud whether to dub the nation’s capital a “cesspool” or a “sewer.” Most illuminating in this manic display was an exposition on the virtues of fealty. “We could use some more loyalty; I will tell you that,” the president mused. These days, Trump seems fixated on treachery—among Republicans in Congress, among his Cabinet officials, and among his subordinates in the administration. His obsession may yet prove his undoing.

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Salaita, Out

Sympathy deferred.

I have written before about Steven Salaita. Once a tenured professor of English at Virginia Tech, he resigned from that position on the strength of an offer from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign to serve in the American Indian Studies program. But in the summer of 2014, UIUC rescinded the offer, mainly over of a series of reprehensible Salaita tweets.

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