New York Times columnist Charles Blow illustrates (not intentionally, of course) why the 2010 midterms may be a blow out of historic proportions for the Democrats. Giving a nod to the dismal poll numbers that continue to afflict President Obama, Blow then zeroes in on what he believes is the real problem: Republicans and Rush Limbaugh.
According to a CBS News poll released on Friday, President Obama’s approval rating on health care sank to a personal low: 34 percent. (His overall approval rating in the poll was also a new low for him: 44 percent.)
This is in large part because of Republican recalcitrance. The left loves him. The right not so much. Actually, not at all. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week, Obama’s job approval rating among Republicans was a measly 9 percent. On health care, his approval rating was an even-more-measly 7 percent.
Why? The Apostles of Anger in their echo chamber of fallacies have branded him the enemy. This has now become an article of faith. Obama isn’t just the enemy of small government and national solvency. He’s the enemy of liberty.
This underscores the current fight for the soul of this country. It’s not just a tug of war between left and right. It’s a struggle between the mind and the heart, between evidence and emotions, between reason and anger, between what we know and what we believe.
This conflict was captured in a tit-for-tat between Obama and Rush Limbaugh. In an interview with CBS this week, Obama complained about the “vitriol” coming from the likes of Limbaugh: “I think the vast majority of Americans know that we’re trying hard, that I want what’s best for the country.”
Limbaugh shot back on Friday, “I and most Americans do not believe President Obama is trying to do what’s best for the country.”
And there it was. Obama’s language focused on what people “know,” or should know. He seems to find comfort in the empirical nature of knowledge. It’s logical. Limbaugh’s language focused on what he thinks people “believe.” Beliefs are a more complicated blend of facts, or lies, and faith. And, they can exist beyond the realm of the rational.
This focus on faith has allowed people like Limbaugh to mislead and manipulate large swaths of the right.
Blow would have us believe that “Republican incalcitrance” is at the heart of the President’s unpopularity. What about the majorities Democrats have in both houses of Congress and the Executive, Mr. Blow? How is Republican incalcitrance hindering Democratic policy when Democrats undeniably are in control? And what of this “empirical nature of knowledge” versus what people “believe”. I think what Mr. Blow is saying here is that the inarticulate, poorly informed, illogical and faith driven Republicans are getting in the way of the intellectual elites that know better. In other words, Republicans and the grass roots movements that have arisen to object to President Obama should just shut up.
When a columnist for a major U S newspaper must label a political minority “The Apostles of Anger in their echo chamber of fallacies” one would think that the author is talking about a formidable political opposition. But the only power Republicans have is public opinion (and they are winning in that venue). If Mr. Blow truly believed President Obama and the Congressional Democrats that wield the power were doing the right thing he wouldn’t get so worked up about Rush Limbaugh and the puny Republican minority. His rant shows all the symptoms of a doomed policy and an inherent fear of the Tea Party movement.