Monday, March 02, 2009

Enemies, real and imagined

William Jacobson on Obama's modification of a longtime presidential tactic:

What is it with this President? Obama has an obsessive need to find enemies against whom to campaign. When Obama's presidency is over, hopefully in four years (but likely eight years) there will be two sets of psychologists: Those who provide therapy to the American population which has seen its life savings and economic system destroyed, and those who analyze the psychosis of the Demonizer-in-Chief. [...]

Attacking lobbyists is not the point of Obama's latest ploy. Rather, painting anyone who opposes him as a "lobbyist" is the point. In attacking the "lobbyists" Obama is doing what he did on the issue of race during the campaign: Anyone who opposes me doesn't just have a different opinion, they are evil and dangerous to the rest of you. This tactic simultaneously generates support among the majority and silences the minority.

Other presidents have been accused of using "enemies" as a political rallying point. Almost invariably, however, these enemies have been foreign (the "evil empire" and "axis of evil"). Obama is the first president "in my adult life" to set American against American, to create enemies at home as a political rallying point, to create a climate in which law-abiding American citizens are singled out as being worthy of attack.

Yep, Barack has met the enemy, and he is us.

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