What’s particularly striking about Obama’s White House attack on Republicans earlier today is that it came during a police lock-down a few blocks from where Obama was speaking, a speech delivered in the immediate aftermath of a mass murder on Federal property. It was a national tragedy. Thirteen dead, real blood still flowing. TVs were focused on the hunt for a possible surviving second shooter and on evacuation of the wounded. But the president bulled ahead anyway, dropping verbal bombs on his true enemies:
The problem is -- at the moment, Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on how to grow [the] economy and build the middle class. I say, at the moment, because I am still hoping that a light bulb goes off here. So far, their budget ideas revolve primarily around even deeper cuts to education, even deeper cuts that would gut America’s scientific research and development, even deeper cuts to America’s infrastructure investment -- our roads, our bridges, our schools our energy grid.
you’ve got Republicans controlling the House of Representatives . . . So this is always going to be tough. Having said that, I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can’t get 100% of what it wants. That’s never happened before. But that’s what’s happening right now.
You have some Republicans in the House of Representatives who are promising to shut down the government at the end of this month if they can’t shut down [Obamacare]. And if that scheme doesn’t work, some have suggested they won’t pay the very bills that Congress has already run up. . .
[Obamacare] has been the law for three-and-a-half years now. It passed both houses of Congress. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. It was an issue in last year’s election, and the candidate who called for repeal lost. The...(APPLAUSE) Republicans in the House have tried to repeal or sabotage it about 40 times. They’ve failed every time.
it’s time for responsible Republicans who share [my] goals -- and there are a number of folks out there who I think are decent folks -- I’ve got some disagreements with them on some issues -- but I think genuinely want to see the economy grow and want what’s best for the American people.Republicans include “a number of . . . decent folks.” If that’s the president's best pitch to the loyal opposition, we are witnessing war.
Obama’s latest economic-based attack on Republicans follows a late July opening salvo delivered at Illinois’ Knox College, a speech Nile Gardiner of the Telegraph (U.K.) said
was supposed to be the president’s come-back moment, the first of a series of addresses aimed at retaking the initiative by the White House. Instead it was a train-wreck. In an hour-long address, which seemed to last forever, the president spoke in deeply partisan terms, often with bitterness and anger, lambasting his political opponents, dismissing criticism of his policies, and launching into his favourite theme of class warfare, attacking the wealthy and what he calls the “winner takes all economy.” In a display of extraordinary arrogance, he condemned what he called “an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals,” a direct reference to the Congressional investigations into the IRS and Benghazi scandals, which most Americans don’t see as phony. He also defended his increasingly unpopular Obamacare proposals, attacking what he calls “a politically-motivated misinformation campaign.”Commentators such as Michael Barone, writing in the conservative Washington Examiner, believe they understand Obama can’t shake his love for campaigning (i.e., verbal warfare), accompanied by his disinterest in most everything else:
We have a president who loves to give campaign speeches to adoring crowds, but who doesn't seem to have much interest in governing. . . Obama called for increasing the minimum wage[, which] tends not to create but to destroy jobs, especially for young people with few skills and little work experience. He also called for job retraining. . . Unfortunately, studies have shown for years that government job training programs aren't very effective.
The president [proposed] universal pre-school education. But the administration's own studies have shown that the four-decades-old Head Start program produces little in the way of lasting educational gains. This looks more like an expensive attempt to create more jobs for teacher union members -- and more union-dues money to help elect Democratic politicians -- than a serious attempt to stimulate the economy. The problem Obama faces on this latest pivot to the economy is that most voters believe his policies have retarded rather than stimulated economic growth and job creation.The partisanship coming out of the White House is nearly unprecedented. As Steven Law pointed out in the conservative Wall Street Journal, Obama is the first president since Nixon to refer to political opponents as "enemies," having done so in October 2010.
In the eyes of Peggy Noonan, also writing in the Wall Street Journal, intense partisanship generates fear:
a lot of people are afraid to be on the wrong side. The wrong side is against the assumptions of the Democratic Party. The right side is for those assumptions. Dig around in the executive agencies and their actions, and you’re helping the wrong side.And that may be part of the president’s war strategy--strike fear in the hearts of the enemy and in the hearts of anyone who could be identified as aiding the enemy.