Six years after capturing the nation's hearts and votes with a hope and change campaign platform that promised "unity, respect and comity," President Barack Obama has proven to be a divisive and bitterly partisan commander in chief, according to a Wall Street Journal op-ed penned by Karl Rove
Rove, who served as President George W. Bush’s deputy chief of staff and helped launch the American Crossroads political action committee, recounts Obama’s moving and eloquent stump speeches of 2008.
"'We can accept a politics that breeds division and conflict and cynicism,'" he declared in Philadelphia in March 2008, Rove recalls. "'Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, not this time.'
"Later that year, in his victory speech at Chicago’s Grant Park, he urged: 'Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.'"
But Obama's "confrontational style" has resulted in him being the most polarizing president in history, according to Rove, citing a Gallup poll.
Obama’s tack caused members of his own party to revolt against giving him trade-promotion authority, something the past six presidents have had, according to Rove.
The president used the massacre of nine black people during a Bible study at a Charleston, South Carolina, church by a 21-year-old self-avowed white supremacist to promote his gun control agenda, he continues.
"His initial statement the following morning hit a few grace notes, but he mostly lamented the lack of progress in passing his gun-control agenda, which he blamed on 'the politics of this town,'" writes Rove.
"The next day in a speech at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the president devoted most of his time to gun control. In neither instance did he suggest a single measure that would have prevented the massacre or, for that matter, that would stop the gun violence plaguing cities like Chicago, which already have strict gun control. Instead he tried to make the Charleston shooting fit his pre-existing narrative: that we must 'shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.'"
When Obama delivers the eulogy at Charleston victim the Rev. Clementa Pinckney's funeral on Friday, Rove suggests the president take a page from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's book. Haley does not have Obama’s reputation for eloquence, he writes, but "there was a graciousness and a commitment to unify in Ms. Haley's words and actions."
Haley has been widely lauded on both sides of the aisle for her handling of the tragedy, particularly her calls to remove the Confederate flag from the Palmetto State capitol building's grounds.
Obama might also learn something from the Charleston victims' families, who "responded during the accused murderer's bail hearing with grace and forgiveness," according to Rove. "They are ordinary people touched by loss beyond comprehension. Yet sustained by their faith, determined to be instruments of reconciliation, they moved the nation."
Obama then "slandered America" this week during an interview in which he used the N-word and said racism is alive and well in the U.S. and that discrimination is "still part of our DNA," according to Rove.
"Mr. Obama has lost — at least temporarily and perhaps permanently — the ability to describe what we should aspire to as a nation," he writes. "Rather than appealing to the better angels of our nature, the president employs ad hominem attacks against those who disagree with him, complains about the failure of his political agenda, and suggests that America has an almost genetic inclination toward racism."
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