Obama: A divider, not a uniter

The latest conservative GOP message: By attacking speculators, the president is tearing the country apart

By Andrew Leonard
Published May 27, 2009 8:45PM (EDT)

Standing before the Lincoln Memorial, Rep. Tom Price, R-GA., the chairman of the arch-conservative Republican Study Committee, has a message for all Americans.

"Lincoln," he says in a silky smooth drawl, "was an individual who did so very much to unite the nation, to bring the nation together. But there are many Americans who believe that our current president is not bringing people together, that he is in fact dividing people."

To prove this, the video featuring Price's concern about Obama's divisiveness cuts to the speech the president delivered on April 30, when he announced that Chrysler would be filing for bankruptcy. In the segment featured, Obama declares that "I don't stand" with the hedge fund speculators who were blocking an out-of-court restructuring plan in the hopes of getting a higher payoff then the government was offering.

This is mindboggling on many levels. First, there's the confounding spectacle of a Georgian Republican harking back to Lincoln as an inspiration, which inevitably reminded me that the heart of the modern Republican party is now located in the Deep South, which a: Lincoln crushed in a bloody civil war, and b: in large part became a Republican stronghold because of the Voting Rights Act that gave the descendents of the slaves Lincoln freed real access to the ballot box, and thus sent white southern Democrats scurrying to the GOP. Would Lincoln recognize his own party if he was alive today?

But that's ancient history. Even more amazing is the RSC's decision to choose Obama's demonization of hedge funds as proof of how he is not bringing Americans together. If we want to get into the technicalities of bankruptcy law we can have a good solid argument about whether or not the White House is unfairly strong-arming bondholders in the case of Chrysler. But I'm still fairly sure that the majority of Americans are not feeling all that well-disposed towards hedge funds right now. We may not agree on abortion, or even on how to pronounce Sotomayor, but when the topic is over-compensated Wall Street traders who blew up the global economy, yeah, well, e pluribus unum baby.

Watch it and weep. Or laugh hysterically.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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