Published for Contentious at commentarymagazine.com, September 30th, 2010:
Barack Obama’s recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine paints a portrait of a president under siege and lashing out.
For example, the Tea Party is, according to Obama, the tool of “very powerful, special-interest lobbies” — except for those in the Tea Party whose motivations are “a little darker, that have to do with anti-immigrant sentiment or are troubled by what I represent as the president.”
Fox News, the president informs us, “is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world.”
Then there are the Republicans, who don’t oppose Obama on philosophical grounds but decided they were “better off being able to assign the blame to us than work with us to try to solve problems.” Now there are exceptions — those two or three GOPers who Obama has been able to “pick off” and, by virtue of supporting Obama, “wanted to do the right thing” — meaning that the rest of the GOP wants to do the wrong thing.
Even progressives were on the receiving end of the presidential tongue-lashing. “The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base,” Obama said, “that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible. … if people now want to take their ball and go home that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”
Set aside the discordance of these words coming from a man who said, on the night of his election, “I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.” There is a hazardous dynamic developing.