During his press conference earlier today, we witnessed President Obama’s persistent habit of engaging in a form of political libel. When the president was asked about a possible government shutdown, Mr. Obama said this:

But it seems as if what’s motivating and propelling at this point some of the House Republicans is more than simply deficit reduction. They have a particular vision about what government should and should not do, so they are suspicious about government’s commitments, for example, to make sure that seniors have decent health care as they get older. They have suspicions about Social Security. They have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat or whether we should be spending money on medical research. So they’ve got a particular view of what government should do and should be.

This is a particularly foolish slander by a president whose policies are leading to worse, not better, health care for seniors; whose profligate fiscal policies will eventually lead to deep and painful cuts in our entitlement programs; and whose presidency has coincided with a record 46 million Americans living in poverty.

During the Obama years, in fact, the ranks of America’s poor have climbed to levels unseen in nearly half a century. In addition, Obama was opposed to the 1996 welfare reform bill, which was arguably the single best policy reform to help poor Americans, and his administration has taken steps to weaken welfare work requirements. Yet the president feels like he’s in a position to lecture Republicans about caring for the most vulnerable members of the human community.

And leave it to Mr. Obama to level the charge that Republicans want poor children to go hungry in the very press conference in which he complains about “how much energy has been devoted in some of the media … to demonize me.” This is a variation of what psychiatrists refer to as projection.

But there’s more to it than simply that. This is a president who, when he’s not sermonizing on the importance of civility in public discourse, is accusing Republicans of being social Darwinists and members of the “flat earth society,” of putting their party ahead of their country, and of wanting dirty air and dirty water. He says Republicans want autistic and Down syndrome children to “fend for themselves.” He accuses his opponents of not simply being wrong but of being his “enemies.” 

During the 2012 election, Obama’s vice president said Republicans want to put African-Americans “back in chains’ while Obama’s top aides and allies implied Governor Romney was a felon and flat-out stated that he was responsible for the cancer-death of a steelworker’s wife. For Obama, it’s not enough for the differences in politics to be based on an genuine difference in philosophy. He is always working to portray his opponents as caricatures, as cartoon-figures who don’t want to feed the poor or fund medical research. One might be excused for thinking that the president has a suspicion of honest debate and prefers demonization instead.

It appears as if Mr. Obama is determined to build on his already substantial body of work when it comes to intellectual dishonesty and moral self-righteousness. The president, already the most polarizing in modern history, thrives on creating an acrimonious political culture and exacerbating divisions in American society. He’s the perfect president to star in America’s current political circus.