While campaigning for president, George W. Bush often repeated that he would seek to change the negative and partisan tone in Washington, D.C. “I’m a uniter, not a divider,” Bush would say. “I refuse to play the politics of putting people into groups and pitting one group against another.” Similarly, during his campaign for president, Barack Obama stated his desire to end the bitter partisanship of American politics, often saying he would be president, not of “blue” or “red” America, but the United States of America. Indeed, since Nov. 4, President-elect Obama appears to be living up to that promise by reaching out to conservatives and signaling that he is open to conservative ideas. “The monopoly on good ideas does not belong to a single party,” Obama said recently. “If it’s a good idea, we will consider it.” But Obama will arguably have a tougher time uniting the country, toning down partisanship, and creating a more bipartisan atmosphere than Bush did in January 2001. A recent CNN poll found that a whopping 82 percent of Americans believe that Bush did not unite the country. In fact, Bush himself just recently admitted that he had not lived up to his “uniter, not a divider” rhetoric, saying last month that he “didn’t do a very good job of it” (though he later blamed others for “needless name-calling”). But over the last eight years, “pitting one group against another” is exactly the kind of politics Bush played. He and his allies exploited national issues, ruthlessly attacked progressives for political gain, and politicized the federal government to serve the interests of the Republican party.
From The Progress Report