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January 11, 2009


I agree that partisanship increased while Bush was President, but IMHO it wasn't Bush's fault. Bush tried to improve the tone, by appointing two Democratic judges who had been held up by the Republican Senate, passing No Child Left Behind jointly with Ted Kennedy, going into Afghanistan with overwhelming Dem. support and Iraq with substantial Dem support. He championed programs that Dems typically approve of, such as the huge effort to fight African AIDS and adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare. Even the nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistn was something Dems have generally preached.

In my opinion, the key to the polarization was the drop in Bush's popularitym which began with his mis-handlilng of Hurricane Katrina. The Dems then saw him as a safe and easy target. From that time forward, they viciously attacked him. As the recent election showed, their strategy worked.

My strong recollection is that Bush faced enormous hostility among a great many Democrats from the very beginning. Not only did they feel that Bush v. Gore was wrongly decided, they also resented Bush's unwillingness to form a sort of coalition government with large numbers of Democrats in key positions in light of the razor-closeness of the election. The 9/11 attacks brought about a brief respite from this polarization, but it didn't last long. (Indeed, even before the Afghan war was four weeks old, the Democrats were sending up trial balloons of criticism of the war, and the New York Times was asking if Afghanistan was a quagmire.)

No doubt there will be some Republicans who oppose Obama as a matter of course, but I hope they do it with less acrimony and vituperativeness than those Democrats who immediately dubbed Bush the duly selected President and likened him to a chimpanzee.

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