Paul R. Lehman, Opinion writer tries to label Obama as the “Great Divider”

February 12, 2013 at 12:23 am | Posted in African American, Bigotry in America, blacks, Congress, Democrats, Disrespect, European American, fairness, GOP, justice, Media and Race, Prejudice, President, The Oklahoman, the Republican Party, whites | 2 Comments
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The title of the main article on the “Opinion” page of The Oklahoman (2/10/13) reads “President has earned ‘Great Divider’ label.”Both words of that moniker carries with them a variety of interpretations that rely on other associations to have them bear fruit; namely, how does one arrive at the superlative “Great,” and what has been divided? What we discover in reading the article is a text that reflects Arrogance, ignorance and bias.
When one decides that he or she has the where-with-all to predict what history will do and the reasons for doing it, he or she usually rely on facts and empirical evidence to underscore the prognostication. However, when one’s information is based on personal assessment and interpretation, the cause of concern regarding intent and accuracy is called into question. The “opinion” writer stated that history will pin the nickname “The Great Divider” on President Obama because he has earned it. The writer stated that “The sobriquet isn’t overtly partisan: Much of the man’s political success owes to his penchant for dividing people into camps and appealing to one group by diminishing the other. This has been good for his career. But, it has not been good for the United States of America.” The writer then proceeded to present examples where President Obama failed to unite. For example, we learned that “Obama solicited ideas from diverse coalitions—on health care, deficit reduction, business growth—but refused to listen.”
The writer was true in part, the part that the President did solicit ideas from a variety of coalitions; the other part involved the President not willing to abandon his own ideas for those that did not address the problems as he saw them. Take health care, for example. The plan that the President offered to Congress was the same one used in Mass., created and implemented by former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. This plan was rejected by all Republicans in Congress. Other examples of the results and reactions to the President’s offers all fell short of Republican approval. The writer never mentioned this side of the great divide because the blame was displaced, not just on the President. However, the writer evidently believes whatever he or she says should be accepted as true, no questions. That is arrogance.
The lack of information or ignorance comes through in the article when the writer made that statement: “The essential thing we’ve learned about Barack Obama is his belief that his way is the only way, dividing the populace into the Enlightened Ones who agree with him and the less-Than-Worthy who don’t. Syndicated columnist Michael Gerson calls this ‘the invincible assumption of his own rightness,’” One would get the idea that America is governed by a dictator who is at liberty to do anything and everything he wants. Enlightened readers know that this tacit is a ploy to try and discredit the President for doing things he has not the power to do. The fact that we have three branches of government never enters the picture. One would expect the President to have his own ideas and plans because as leader that is part of his responsibility. Why would he be criticized for being able to think and plan and labeled a “divider” simply because some do not agree with him. That is just plain ignorant.
A number of things that are missing from the article that shows a different side to this argument showed a degree of bias on the writer’s part. When the President is told his first day in office that all efforts by one party will be in trying to prevent his serving another term, then the idea of bipartisan agreement becomes impossible. To underscore the point of a one-sided effort to deny the President any success, the Republican Party usually voted as a unit as in the health care bill where he received zero support from them. In addition, whenever a bill was offered in the Senate a filibuster was initiated to prevent its coming to the floor for a vote. A record of filibusters was set during President Obama’s first term by Republicans. The President made numerous invitations to the leaders and other members of the Republican Party for causal meeting; all were rejected. What does that say about who is responsible for the division in Washington?
The name “The Great Divider” is an attempt to discredit the President for things her had little or no control over. The writer wanted to picture President Obama as being in total control of everything that goes on in Washington and then create a negative perception of it. If the writer were honest, he or she would admit that he or she is angry and frustrated by the fact that the majority of Americans elected an African American for President. Whatever President Obama does will never be good enough for the writer and like-minded people because they cannot accept the fact that society is changing and people who still live in the 19th and 20th century are being left behind. These people are biased because they were taught to be so by the society in which we live. Some segments of our society refuse to accept the progress that has taken place socially and scientifically. In essence, they see President Obama as a symbol of a change they are not ready or willing to make.
As the “Opinion” writer demonstrated, any excuse will do if one is trying to avoid the real one, if the real one will uncover the nature of the excuse maker. Any criticism generally made about the government or Congress or Washington will usually filter down to President Obama because he is the “elephant” in the room. People will use the unfounded accusations that Washington has out-of-control-spending, or the Obama policies hurt the middle-class, or the deficit will place a tremendous burden on our grandchildren to try and show that Obama is not fit to be President. If these Obama critics could in some way prove that President Obama is not fit to be President, then they believe that they have been vindicated in their bigotry and can regroup to prevent any new challenge to their view of a “divided” America with them still in charge. The name for what the “Opinion” writer tried to do in labeling President Obama the “Great Diver” is called projection.


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  1. A very perceptive piece, Dr. Lehman. It is almost like you were inspired.

  2. Interesting. Isn’t that the label many put on Abraham Lincoln?

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