We heard it so many times from the national media that it practically became their official mantra: George W. Bush was a polarizing figure. Fair enough. He was. Republicans supported him while Democrats detested not just his politics but pretty much everything about him.
But “polarizing” seems to be a word that has fallen out of favor these days — with journalists and other Democrats and liberals. Sort of like “global cooling,” which you may recall used to be quite popular with liberals in and out of the media – until it wasn’t.
Now we have a new Gallup poll (released July 12) and it makes you wonder why “polarizing” has lost so much of its cache. The poll shows that Democrats give Barack Obama an astonishing 90 percent approval rating. Ninety percent! Youc can’t get much higher than that. Republicans aren’t quite so infatuated. Only 23 percent of them support the president. Twenty-three percent! You can’t get much lower than that. So, let’s do the math: 90 minus 23 equals a Grand Canyon size chasm of 67 points.
And it’s worse now than it was just a few months ago.
Back in April, President Obama had the support of 88 percent of Democrats and only 27 percent of Republicans – a huge gap for sure, but one of “only” 61 points. Writing at the time in the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove, the “architect” of Bush’s two presidential victories, said that, “This gap is 10 points higher than that of George W. Bush’s at this point in his presidency.” Rove also said that no US president in the past 40 years has done more to polarize America so much, so quickly, as President Obama.
To which Joe Klein, one of Time magazine’s many liberal commentators, responded with a blog headlined, “World’s Stupidest Argument.”
“Bush flunkies trying to argue that Obama is more polarizing than Bush was,” said Klein. “Given the fact that Obama had to take dramatic action, at home and abroad, to start lifting the country from the mess Bush made almost everywhere–and also begin to turn the country away from the myopia and greed of the Reagan era–it’s amazing that he hasn’t raised more dust or teabags. … In the long run, it’s a safe historical bet that Bush will prove more polarizing than Obama because he was such an abject failure in the job.”
I’m glad to see that Joe Klein has a crystal ball and can tell us how history will judge President Obama. I don’t. So let’s stick with today. And today, Barack Obama is as polarizing as a politician can get.
The past is prologue, as the old saying goes. So take a look at what I wrote in A Slobbering Love Affair about how the mainstream media covered the Obama campaign for the White House. When you understand how liberal journalists think – how they made the leap from old media bias to new media activism — everything you’re witnessing now will make sense.