Barack Obama won the presidency under the persona of healer. He promised to unify a divided nation and said how he would do this.
He'd put ideology aside and solve problems. And he'd bring new open, bipartisan governing to Washington, devoid of special interests.
Now, six months into this presidency we have exactly the opposite.
Rather than temperatures dropping, they have steadily risen to their current fever pitch.
Rather than becoming more unified, we've never been more divided.
According to the Pew Research Center, the gap between approval rates for the president from Democrats (85 percent) and Republicans (19 percent) is now 66 points. For George W. Bush at about the same time in his presidency, this gap was 51 points. For Bill Clinton it was 45, George H.W. Bush 38, Reagan 46, Carter 25, and Nixon 29.
It's not just Republicans. The gap between the president's approval from Democrats and from independents has expanded from 25 points last February to 37 points today.
And the new open, bipartisan approach to governing?
Listen to remarks (posted on You Tube) by Rep. Tom Price, a Republican from Georgia, to Democratic committee chairman George Miller, during mark-up several weeks ago of the health care bill.
Here's an excerpt: "...we would have loved to have worked with you on this...but you know there was no opportunity to do that...Speaker Pelosi told a member of your conference that if you talk with Republicans about this, you'll be shut out of the room...you know that this hasn't been a bi-partisan effort."
Price, a soft spoken physician who practiced medicine for over 25 years, brandished the thousand page bill and went on about what the government takeover of medicine will do to health care in this country. The sheer arrogance of trying to re-write the rules for almost one fifth of the American economy, more than $2.5 trillion dollars in annual expenditures, with a few weeks of deliberation is without precedent. How can such an effort be done openly or responsibly?
Now we learn that the pharmaceutical industry's support for this initiative has been bought by the administration with promises that, in exchange, there will be no government meddling in the pricing of drugs.
Soon we'll see glowing TV ads extolling the virtues of the Democrats' health care plan, probably talking about the special interests trying to stop it, being paid for by those special interests. Report is that PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry trade association, is kicking in $150 million.
The head of PhRMA, Billy Tauzin, who negotiated with the administration on behalf of his member drug companies, is a Washington insider poster child. He was a congressman from Louisiana for 25 years who then parlayed his accumulated contacts and influence to get hired to head PhRMA for a reported $2.5 million in compensation.
We were sold promises of a sparkling new era, stripped down of ideology and influence peddling. What we have gotten is a hyper-ambitious government take over of our economy, driven by left wing ideology, carried out using the most cynical business-as-usual inside Washington influence peddling. And to lend irony to it all, when outraged citizens grasp what is happening and protest, they are accused of disrupting democracy and racism.
To recall the words of economist Herbert Stein, "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop." Hopefully this will stop before we'll need history books to recall the once American dream of freedom and prosperity.