Thursday, April 9, 2009

Karl Rove offers political polarization in piece aimed at trying to pin that label on the president

What is Karl Rove smoking?

The genius behind the Bush ascendancy -- in a column for the Wall Street Journal -- is blowing a bunch of smoke in claiming that President Obama has now become a divisive figure in American politics.

I believe the exact opposite. I like him more. And as the economy gets worse, more people look to him as a needed leader, and perhaps our only leader. They sense hope in him. That can be said of no other figure in this nation or world. And his just-completed global tour confirmed that truth.

Rove cites a lot of poll numbers. But in my being out among just out among regular people, Obama is considered the only credible point of reference in Washington. At that is when it comes to negativity or positive comments.

Yes, I sharply disagree on his economic policies. But I do note that the stock market for some reason has been up for the past four weeks.

I love his education policy, which is the single greatest determinant of the American Dream and the preservation of American individualism. His push for many more public charter schools comes just as we are fighting before the Tennessee state Legislature to lift restrictive laws against such schools and the power of poor parents to choose the best public school for their children.

His foreign policy steps have been measured, while opening dialogue with Cuba and Iran, longtime enemies. Any time you are talking with someone, there is hope of perhaps change.

For his first 100 days, which the president still has not reached yet, he has done any incredible amount of work. And that's what the American people wanted, although I do not like some of the socialist leanings.

I hope he turns from more intervention in the capital markets and corporate America. His decision to let GM go into bankruptcy is a good step away from the troubling trend.

I'm more willing now to give the president more time to let his policies work than I was before. They must work for the good of this nation and to relieve so much suffering that is mounting here and across the nation.

The Republicans in turn offer no real alternative. They have no leader. Their most visible spokesperson is Rush Limbaugh, which is not good for the party to expand its ranks and offer new solutions to battle with those of the president.

Finally, we must pray for the president, that he will be open to always re-examining all he has done in yet his first 100 days to be sure we are on the right track. But we should also pray for his success, because his will be ours as well.

Here is an excerpt on Rove's piece:

The Pew Research Center reported last week that President Barack Obama "has the most polarized early job approval of any president" since surveys began tracking this 40 years ago. The gap between Mr. Obama's approval rating among Democrats (88%) and Republicans (27%) is 61 points. This "approval gap" is 10 points bigger than George W. Bush's at this point in his presidency, despite Mr. Bush winning a bitterly contested election.

Part of Mr. Obama's polarized standing can be attributed to a long-term trend. University of Missouri political scientist John Petrocik points out that since 1980, each successive first term president has had more polarized support than his predecessor with the exception of 1989, when George H.W. Bush enjoyed a modest improvement over Ronald Reagan's 1981 standing.

But rather than end or ameliorate that trend, Mr. Obama's actions and rhetoric have accelerated it. His campaign promised post-partisanship, but since taking office Mr. Obama has frozen Republicans out of the deliberative process, and his response to their suggestions has been a brusque dismissal that "I won."

Compare this with Mr. Bush's actions in the aftermath of his election. Among his first appointments were Democratic judicial nominees who had been blocked by Republicans under President Bill Clinton. The Bush White House joined with Democratic and Republican leaders to draft education reform legislation. And Mr. Bush worked with Republican Chuck Grassley to cut a deal with Democrat Max Baucus to win bipartisan passage of a big tax cut in a Senate split 50-50 after the 2000 election.

Mr. Obama has hastened the decline of Republican support with petty attacks on his critics and predecessor. For a person who promised hope and civility in politics, Mr. Obama has shown a borderline obsessiveness in blaming Mr. Bush. Starting with his inaugural address and continuing through this week's overseas trip, the new president's jabs at Mr. Bush have been unceasing, unfair and unhelpful. They have also diminished Mr. Obama by showing him to be another conventional politician. Rather than ending "the blame game," he is personifying it.

The question that will worry the Obama West Wing is whether the views of independents come to look more like Democrats or Republicans. Recent opinion surveys show that support for his policies among independents is slipping.

On both Mr. Obama's performance and policies, independents are starting to look more like Republicans. For example, the most recent Fox News poll (taken March 31 to April 1) found that Mr. Obama's job approval among independents has fallen to 52%, down nine points from the start of March and down 12 points from late January. Over the same period, the number of independents who disapprove of Mr. Obama's performance has doubled to 32% from 16%.

The same poll also found that 76% of independents worry that government will spend too much to help the economy; only 12% worry it will spend too little. Independents oppose Mr. Obama's proposed budget by a 55%-37% margin.

If independents continue looking more like Republicans, especially on deficits, spending and the economy, Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats could be in for a rough ride.

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