Janice Shaw Crouse

The president has achieved his legislative priorities; his cronies, Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-California), rammed through the nearly $900 billion stimulus package which turned out to be a boondoggle that made the economic situation of the country even worse. The Obama/Reid/Pelosi triangle shoved through universal health care that will (by the time liberal judges and bureaucrats get through with it) result in taxpayer-funded abortions, in spite of overwhelming public opposition. The president thinks that he can now afford to tone down the rhetoric and emphasize bipartisanship and so-called “civility.” He is making a show of taking the “high road” at the moment, and we’re not suppose to notice his having got the massive expansion of government control over the economy that he wanted by taking the “low road.”

President Obama came into office having promised to be the kind of leader who could inspire consensus and find bipartisan solutions to the nation’s problems. It was hoped that his election signaled that America was ready to put the race issue behind us and inspired confidence that the power of democracy would heal old divisions. Sadly, Obama’s polarizing behavior to date has squandered this opportunity.

President Obama was praised for his recent remarks about the Tucson shooting rampage; many supportive pundits claimed that he showed his old magic. He would be foolish indeed to fritter away the good will and positive impact of that speech. Like President Reagan, whose State of the Union speech in 1986 had to be postponed because of the Challenger space shuttle disaster, Obama has an opportunity to use the Tucson tragedy as a springboard forward to higher ideals and greater national prestige. It remains to be seen whether the president can restrain his old impulses to attack and belittle any opposition — past rhetoric shows that he clearly views any opponent as an “enemy.”

He has repeatedly embarrassed America by dismissing traditional American values and traditions and denying American exceptionalism when abroad — even among the nation’s fiercest opponents. If he truly believes that our best days are behind us, he should announce practical plans to restore American greatness. Certainly it is time to address some of the nation’s worst domestic issues, among them the social issues (lack of marriage and breakdown of marriage) that are root causes of many of our cultural and economic crises.

Given how the president’s rhetoric, policies, and political appointments have divided the nation so bitterly, surely he will sense that the time has long since passed for him to try to pull it back together again. But at this late stage, do the politicians in Washington think that the Tea Party movement — which their actions brought to life — will be satisfied by the mere fact that Republicans and Democrats are sitting together in symbolic “unity?” Time, and the polls, will reveal the extent to which his address succeeds in distancing him and the Democrat party from the brutal legislative battles of the past two years.

To the extent Obama manages to transcend his caustic rhetoric of the past, he may well pave the way for election 2012. But many who labored for Republican victories in 2010 will watch in dismay if they see the voices of those elected to oppose Obama’s progressive agenda muted by their dispersal around the chamber. If this is read as more Washington-politics-as-usual, those Republicans turning the other cheek to impress independents will have made a serious tactical error and face mass defections — and even the possible formation of a third party.

Janice Shaw Crouse

Janice Shaw Crouse is a former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and now political commentator for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.
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