I'm referring not to the routine partisan rancor between politicians in the course of debating an issue but to those occasions when there is no time between Obama's demands for cooperation and his tongue-lashing of Republicans -- when he waxes eloquent about getting along and then immediately pummels his opponents. It's so strikingly inconsistent that I am surprised even conservative commentators don't make more of this.
In speaking to congressional Republicans on Obamacare, for example, Obama patronizingly told them that health care is such an important issue that they should put partisanship aside and work together to solve the problem. Then he proceeded to define bipartisanship and cooperation as, in effect, agreeing with his proposals because they were simply "common-sense" ideas. Anyone who didn't agree with him was, by definition, at odds with common sense, and a politician wouldn't do that unless motivated by partisanship. Obama then berated Republicans for not having jumped on board already.
We've all met people who actually believe that their ideas are so self-evidently superior that anyone who disagrees is automatically unreasonable, but it has been disturbing to witness a president with this unrealistic and delusional attitude.
This attitude seems to flow from extreme liberalism. Many liberals, especially media and academic elites, believe there is only one reasonable position on certain issues, from politics to culture to religion to, yes, even science. They think that their views are eminently sound and that contrary opinions are unreasonable, often evil and sometimes not worthy of constitutional protection.
That's why the liberal media don't consider themselves biased; in their minds, they are just promoting the only sensible position. The dissenting viewpoint doesn't need to be represented, because it is too toxic to warrant a voice, much less a balanced treatment.
This explains not only their shameless bias in news selection, reporting and commentating but also their opposition to the presentation of alternative views in schools on aspects of Darwinism or man-made global warming. They shame the "deniers" who haven't hopped on their cuckoo "consensus" train.
But Obama is even worse than your garden-variety liberal who has difficulty acknowledging or respecting dissenting views, as he proved again in his gun control speech Tuesday.
He said the gun control issue "has become one of our most polarized, partisan debates -- despite the fact that there's a general consensus in America about what needs to be done." Polarized and partisan, yes, but a consensus? Please.
He added: "I think we can disagree without impugning other people's motives or without being disagreeable. ... But we do have to feel a sense of urgency about it."
Why is it urgent when his liberal friends agree that even draconian liberal gun proposals, let alone these regulatory Band-Aids he is unilaterally imposing, wouldn't have prevented the types of mass shootings we've had in this country?
Perhaps we should feel a sense of urgency about the shootings (as opposed to gun control), but if Obama had a sense of urgency about the shootings, he would attempt to address the problem rather than exploit it to push gun control. He would address the gang-related black-on-black shootings in Chicago.
What about his claim that we can disagree without impugning one another's motives or being disagreeable?
Well, he betrayed his own advice just a few sentences later -- and again and again. He said: "Contrary to the claims of what some gun rights proponents have suggested, this hasn't been the first step in some slippery slope to mass confiscation. Contrary to claims of some presidential candidates, apparently, before this meeting, this is not a plot to take away everybody's guns."
Then he cited a "compromise" proposal offered by a Democrat and a Republican senator. "Pretty common-sense stuff. Ninety percent of Americans supported that idea. Ninety percent of Democrats in the Senate voted for that idea. But it failed because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate voted against that idea."
No partisan slurs or shaming there, no sirree.
More: "So the gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage right now, but they cannot hold America hostage. ... And for those in Congress who so often rush to blame mental illness for mass shootings as a way of avoiding action on guns, here's your chance to support these efforts. Put your money where your mouth is. ... The reason Congress blocks laws is because they want to win elections. ... We can find the courage to cut through all the noise and do what a sensible country would do."
There you have it. If you agree with Obama, you have common sense and are reasonable. If you disagree, you are unreasonable, partisan or a corrupt pawn of moneyed interests. Yet he's not insulting you. He's not talking past you. He's not being divisive or partisan.