- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 14, 2009


President Obama pretends to be a unifying figure while consistently denigrating his opponents. This lowers public discourse and makes it harder for the country to move forward as one.

The latest example of this disturbing pattern came in a column by Mr. Obama published in Sunday’s Washington Post. In the column, Mr. Obama tried to defend his failed economic “stimulus” plan, but he wasn’t content merely to argue for his own policies. Instead, he insisted on misrepresenting the motives of those who disagree with him.

“There are some who say we must wait to meet our greatest challenges,” he wrote. “They … believe that doing nothing is somehow an answer.” And later: “There will continue to be those who argue that we have to put off hard decisions.”

But who are these mysterious people who want to “do nothing” or actually “argue that we have to put off hard decisions?” This is absurd. It is similar to Mr. Obama’s repetitive use of the straw-man argument that George W. Bush administration lawyers tried to assert that we must choose “between our safety and our ideals.” Mr. Obama labeled that a “false choice,” but it was false only because nobody but Mr. Obama asserted it was a choice in the first place.

Just because somebody makes a different choice than the president doesn’t mean that person advocates “doing nothing” or abandoning our values. Likewise with so many other of what Mr. Obama calls “false choices”: “between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy”; between “sound science and moral values”; between “facts” and “ideology”; between “conserv[ing] our natural resources” and “profit[ing] from these resources.” And so on, ad nauseam.

On the economy, those who opposed the president’s misnamed stimulus package offered numerous alternatives. House Republicans proposed a plan that the Democrats’ own economists said would create twice the jobs at half the cost. Others who rightly rejected the whole idea of a stimulus instead promoted various business tax cuts, changes in housing policies, changes in monetary policy and a host of other solutions.

Mr. Obama has cheapened legitimate debate by dismissing competing arguments. That creates the falsest choice of all.

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