Remember When?

Remember when educated people were offended when a president reduced complex issues into a black and white dichotomy. Good and evil. Us against them? Well, Obama’s been doing that since he took office.

Obama has a bully pulpit approach to leadership, using straw men in his debates ( If we do nothing is a refrain we’ve heard so often that’s it’s become a private joke in my house) and maligns any opposition. In short, he is your typical, average politician. Presidential? Not hardly.

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.

This isn’t the hope and change I was promised.

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