The Great Divider
The New York Times
Published: November 2, 2006
As President George W. Bush throws himself into the final days of a particularly nasty campaign season, he's settled into a familiar pattern of ugly behavior. Since he can't defend the real world created by his policies and his decisions, Bush is inventing a fantasy world in which to campaign on phony issues against fake enemies.
In Bush's world, America is making real progress in Iraq. In the real world, as Michael Gordon reported in Wednesday's New York Times, the index that generals use to track developments shows an inexorable slide toward chaos. In Bush's world, his administration is marching arm in arm with Iraqi officials committed to democracy and to staving off civil war. In the real world, the prime minister of Iraq orders the removal of American checkpoints in Baghdad and abets the sectarian militias that are slicing and dicing their country.
In Bush's world, there are only two kinds of Americans: Those who are against terrorism, and those who somehow are all right with it. Some Americans want to win in Iraq and some don't. There are Americans who support the troops and Americans who don't support the troops. And at the root of it all is the hideously damaging fantasy that there is a gulf between Americans who love their country and those who question his leadership.
Bush has been pushing these divisive themes all over the nation, offering up the ludicrous notion the other day that if Democrats manage to control even one house of Congress, America will lose and the terrorists will win.
It's not the least bit surprising or objectionable that Bush would hit the trail hard at this point, trying to salvage his party's control of Congress and, by extension, his last two years in office. And we're not naïve enough to believe that either party has been running a positive campaign that focuses on the issues.
But when the president of the United States gleefully bathes in the muck to divide Americans into those who love their country and those who don't, it is destructive to the fabric of the nation he is supposed to be leading.
This is hardly the first time that Bush has played the politics of fear, anger and division; if he's ever missed a chance to wave the bloody flag of 9/11, we can't think of when. But Bush's latest outbursts go way beyond that.