Pete Wehner points to President Obama’s latest (he has a long list) of anti-Republican vilifications, quoting from the president’s Monday press conference:
But it seems as if what’s motivating and propelling at this point some of the House Republicans is more than simply deficit reduction. They have a particular vision about what government should and should not do, so they are suspicious about government’s commitments, for example, to make sure that seniors have decent health care as they get older. They have suspicions about Social Security. They have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat or whether we should be spending money on medical research. So they’ve got a particular view of what government should do and should be.
This is classic Obama, who would accuse his opponents of ill-will but not engage in a serious negotiation. We’ve seen this routine so many times it hardly shocks us that this comes from the mouth of the president, not some hatchet man at the DNC. (Recall Obama has been “accusing Republicans of being social Darwinists and members of the ‘flat earth society’ of putting their party ahead of their country, and of wanting dirty air and dirty water.”)
Really, is any Republican in either the House or the Senate talking about doing away with Social Security? Anyone out there want Americans to drink dirty water? It is hard to argue with Wehner’s conclusion: The president, already the most polarizing in modern history, thrives on creating an acrimonious political culture and exacerbating divisions in American society.
So what will his one line in history be? Maybe: After getting health-care reform he was unable to accomplish a single noteworthy goal nor address the looming fiscal crisis on America’s horizon. (Let’s hope it does not include “and he let Iran get the bomb.”)
The president is partially right. The Republicans do have suspicions, but just not the ones he outlined. Here are some real ones:
1. Republicans are suspicious that Obama is uninterested in entitlement reform.
2. Republicans are suspicious that the nominations of Jack Lew and Chuck Hagel reflect a hyper-partisan, extreme bent that will be in evidence for the next four years.
3. Republicans are suspicious that the president cares more about making the Republicans look responsible for a default than negotiating spending cuts.
4. Republicans are suspicious that Obama, despite his statements in the campaign, would like nothing better than to gut defense via sequestration.
5. Republicans are suspicious that the president likes Hagel not in spite of his views on Israel and Iran but because of them.
6. Republicans are suspicious that the president has systematically eliminated any voices in his White House that don’t subscribe to the hyper-partisan, left-wing vision he harbors.
7. Republicans are suspicious that the president, even if he got more tax revenue, would spend more and more rather than reduce the debt.
8. Republicans are suspicious that the president isn’t serious about gun legislation if he is planning on including an assault weapons ban, which many in his own party won’t support.
9. Republicans are suspicious that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) doesn’t want to have a Senate vote on the debt increase, gun control or immigration.
10. Republicans are suspicious that the American people will never get a complete accounting of the national security leak investigation, the president’s role in Benghazi or much of anything else from this White House.
Unlike the president’s accusations about his opponents’ suspicions, these are real concerns not of extremists in the right-wing grassroots but of the most sober GOP leaders. And what’s more, they have every right to be suspicious, given the president’s pattern of behavior and rhetoric.