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Polarization starts at the top

In today’s lead editorial, the Post decries the “ideological purification of both parties,” citing the conservatives who recently defeated Sen. Bob Bennett in Utah and the liberals who have targeted Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas. “There is no particular reason why all advocates of fiscal restraint should also oppose abortion rights, or why supporters of a progressive tax code should necessarily favor restrictions on gun ownership,” the editorial reads.

The Post is on strong ground to make this argument. It is one of the most diverse editorial pages in the country. It supports many traditional liberal positions, but it also backed the liberation of Iraq and school choice for poor District children. The Post is essentially asking: Why can’t politicians be more like us?

The answer is: What makes a successful editorial page does not necessarily make for a successful politician. The Post’s unpredictability is what makes it so interesting, and draws readers to its pages. But unpredictability is not what draws people to political candidates. Politicians must be more than interesting -- they must represent real people, in communities that share common values. Voters want to elect congressmen and senators who reflect their beliefs and will fight for them in the nation’s capital.

Voters in Utah are conservative, and they are recoiling from the fiscal profligacy in Washington today. Bob Bennett’s chosen campaign theme was that if he were re-elected, he would be the ranking Republican on the water and natural resources committee energy and water appropriations subcommittee and would be able to deliver for Utah. To say that this was off-message in today’s political climate is an understatement. That is why he lost.

Arkansas is a state that has traditionally elected conservative Republicans and centrist Democrats. It will be interesting to see how Blanche Lincoln fares. But there is nothing wrong with people who believe in certain values working to elect people who share those values and defeat those who do not.

The polarization The Post editorial board decries is a reaction to the radical agenda Obama is pursuing in our nation’s capital. Obama has eschewed the bipartisanship pursued by his predecessors, President Bush (No Child Left Behind) and President Clinton (NAFTA, welfare reform), in their first years in office. Instead, he has pursued a maximalist liberal agenda and refused any real compromise. When you pass a radical overhaul of health care along strict party lines, using clever parliamentary tactics to avoid compromise with the other party, it’s going to have a ripple effect across the electorate.

Conservatives are energized to elect candidates who will stand up to Obama and fight his efforts to expand the size and scope of government. Liberals want to elect candidates who will stand up for Obama and stand in the way of efforts to thwart his agenda. The tone has been set from the top. When the occupant of the White House changes his approach, or is thrown out of office, the polarization will subside.

By Marc Thiessen  | May 13, 2010; 8:39 AM ET
Categories:  Thiessen  | Tags:  Marc Thiessen  
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Comments

Theres a difference between the Blanche Lincoln situation and the republican partys situation. Lincoln is not being targeted by her own party, she's being set upon by groups outside. There have been no call from Democratic legislators for party purity as there have been with the republicans. Whereas the purge of the gop is being fostered by republicans (Demint, et al) and their strong affiliation with outside lobbying groups like club for growth and freedom works. It's a preview of the results of the recent supreme court ruling - the American voters have little influence in their elections. It's being controlled by outside groups of lobbyists and think tanks, and as we've seen over the years, republicans are a really gullible group. Think I'm wrong? For over 30 years republicans have been running on fiscal conservatism and small government, yet when elected they act in the opposite - it's all smoke and mirrors, but the lemmings line up believing that THIS time they really mean it.

Posted by: JilliB | May 13, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Marc, you are 100% correct in stating "What makes a successful editorial page does not necessarily make for a successful politician."

The USA is truly divided between two opposing world views - liberal and conservative - that are abhorrent to each other even dividing friends and family. Abortion is an example of that divide as is fiscal responsibility.

Politicians belong to one of those world views and in today's culture that means that the other half is not represented and angry at what is happening to their country. Different from prior generations, these one-sided administrations are acutely divisive and destructive. There is no unity nor will there be until government represents all "The People".

This polarized method of governing is not working - nor is America under Obama.

Posted by: 2009frank | May 13, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

"The polarization The Post editorial board decries is a reaction to the radical agenda Obama is pursuing in our nation’s capital."...

Really? Said polarization has nothing to do with a former president that said "You're either with us or against us"? Or who also said "If the Democrats win, the terrorists win"?

Does Mr. Thiessen suffer from selective amnesia?

Posted by: CardFan | May 13, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

ANYBODY WHO ENGAGES IN DISCUSSION IS FULL. FOR WHAT PURPOSE? YOU WOULD REMAIN THE SAME TOMORROW. I AM ASHAMED OF WAPO TO HIRE YOU, BECAUSE WE'RE HEARING & READING YOUR ARGUMENTS FROM YOUR BRETHERN IN OTHER. WHY CAN'T ANYBODY FIND A CONSERVATIVE OF NEW IDEAS OTHER THAN THOSE WHO WORSHIP SO CALLED REAGANISM?

Posted by: belaywca | May 13, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

CORRECTIONS TO MY LAST POSTING. CHANGE "FULL" TO "FOOL" AND INSERT "MEDIA" AFTER OTHER IN MY 3RD SENTENCE.

Posted by: belaywca | May 13, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

So tell me, when was it that the Republicans were trying to work with Obama on healthcare? I must have missed it.

Also, Obama is not as left as you would like to believe. He voted for FYSA. He still wants to leave in some of the presidential perks that Bush stated. He's not going after Bush/Chaney/et al for illegalities during their time for lying to the American public, detaining people supposed terrorists without charge or legal counsel. There is no public option in the healthcare reform bill. He wants to continue offshore oil drilling, despite the latest catastrophe.

In reality, progressives are mad at and disappointed with Obama for not being left enough.

Posted by: mbcullen | May 13, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Oboobma is the most powerful man in the world. For him to blame anyone but himself is preposterous on its face (but of course that doesn't stop him).

During the campaign the MSM, at Oboobma's direction, packaged and presented Oboobma as some kind of post-ideological saint. His wild-eyed extremism since seizing power shows what a cynical Big Lie that was. Oboobma and the MSM played the gullible for chumps.

Posted by: thebump | May 13, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

You gotta be kidding me Thiessen!!!

Obama is more polarizing and partisan than Bush?

I'll take some of whatever you are smoking my man!!!

Must be some good stuff:)

Posted by: hempplanet | May 13, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

The conservatives and tea bag crowd cannot govern. They proved it over and over again since 1980. If America so chooses, we can get those incompetent fools back in power, but don't kid yourselves folks. We can cut taxes to zero and declare war against every country in the world, it won't solve our problems. We can outlaw abortion and keep the drug war going and it won't solve our problems. We can depend on the Rapture to save us, and it may well happen, but even the Rapture will not solve our problems. We have to solve the problems. Our survival depends on it. Stop your ideological dither. Get a job!!!

Posted by: hempplanet | May 13, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse


THe "LIBERATION OF IRAQ?"

"bipartisanship" of George W. (my way or the highway) Bush?

Obama "eschewed bipartisanship" in the first months? Like on health care?


Thiessen is absymally stupid, or more likely, because no one could be that dumb,
he thinks HIS READERS ARE.

Or maybe this is an clumsy attempt at 'disinformation'. Or push polling. What could account for this wierd, parallel universe column?

Posted by: whistling | May 13, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse


As posted by Jill1B: "Theres a difference between the Blanche Lincoln situation and the republican partys situation. Lincoln is not being targeted by her own party, she's being set upon by groups outside."
===================
Really?? I guess then groups like "Daily KOS", "Huffington Post", "Politico"...who are favoring her opponent are not within the democratic party? You also state GOP being controlled by outside lobbyists - and the democrats are not? Can you say Goldman Sachs - Banks? Can you say Unions? ...what are they?

C'mon Jill get real! So if GOP is for less Government and less taxes...what is the Dems for - Bigger Government - Bigger taxes - bigger spending? The Government payroll - the public sector is growing twice the private sector....w/ much more lavish pensions and benefits. Can you say "Greece".......and or VAT.

Posted by: short1 | May 13, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Is it just me, or does this entire article miss the point? I'm going to ignore the fact that the author uses a perfectly rational editorial re political polarization as an opportunity to make a politicized argument about how Obama is more polarizing than Bush. Instead, I want to focus on where I think this article breaks down.

"Voters in Utah are conservative, and they are recoiling from the fiscal profligacy in Washington today."

This is the problem that the editorial raises that this article fails to deal with. Voters in Utah are "conservative." That they are voting against the "fiscal profligacy" is perfectly rational for the way they perceive their self-interst. The problem is that in today's political world, that invariably makes you a "conservative." And part and parcel with that seems to be added opposition to abortion rights, a rejection of mandatory health care, minimization of the need for climate change solutions, etc. I know a lot of people in the electorate who straddle the parties on issues like this, believing we spend too much but thinking health care is a moral imperative, believing in global warming but thinking military trials for terrorists are the better option. The problem is there is no room for politicians to adopt that view. You have to be one or the other. Americans are not so easily pigeonholed, despite the author's final paragraph drawing the world into "Conservative" and "Liberal" camps. This article is part of the problem, not the solution, and it shocks me that a columnist for such a venerated newspaper could write such drivel.

Posted by: chep3 | May 13, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Thiessen = Propagandist
Torture Apologist

To engage with him at all is a mistake.
Mr. Hiatt, please do the right thing, and let him go.
Fellow commenters, please rinse and repeat.

Posted by: michael16 | May 13, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Cardfan asks "Does Mr. Thiessen suffer from selective amnesia?
" The answer is no, he suffers from terminal hypocrisy. There has been no president/administration more polarizing than Dubya's, yet he uses No Child Left Behjnd as if it were only one of many such bipartisan efforts, much less successes during their 8-year reign of "If you're not with us, you're against us" mentality and actions.

Bottom line is that Thiessen has no credibility to comment on a topic for which he's an unembarrassed poster boy. Won't stop him from blaming everyone else, but that's his schtick and he's sticking to it, regardless of how idiotic it sounds coming from a master practitioner of what he supposedly decries.

Posted by: jk5432 | May 13, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh please.

Who took their ball and went home after Obama got elected? Hint--it wasn't Democrats.

Who claimed he had a "mandate" with only 51% of the popular vote? Hint--it wasn't Obama.

What a bunch of crybabies the GOP has become.

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | May 13, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Thiessen, you're absolutely right. Obama should abandon everything he was elected on and enact a far right agenda. The problem is, you are your ilk would still hate him.

Posted by: jake14 | May 13, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Thiessen is as partisan as the rest of the conservatives. What a hypocrite. It is the Republicans that continue to refuse to govern responsibly, cooperate, or even negotiate at all with the majority. They lost the election, but refuse to acknowledge it.

Marc, Bush rode roughshod over any and all objections to his dictatorial claims and the Republicans rammed through legislation without even attempting to enlist any Democratic support at all, for 6 straight years. And I wouldn't call NCLB an accomplishment....more like a total failure.

Posted by: Chagasman | May 13, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

You know, it's really early to suggest this, but Elena Kagen's enthusiastic step into her first Senate interviews gave me an interesting idea.
She's supposedly a consensus builder.
So what if she carries her enthusiasm to the entire Senate, office by office, just making the rounds, and (assuming she's confirmed as predicted) then continues in her time off visiting editorial offices, high schools, libraries, community centers and other public gatherings continuously, discussing the verities of law and public discourse, inviting other Supremes and public servants to the free discussions, breaking down the divisiveness and opening the doors to the inner workings of the courts and the government at large.
The perpetual election cycle requires intervention and healthy government itself requires a good measure of benign public support, as well as civic awareness and participation...

Posted by: thanksforfish | May 13, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Why present a case for putting out a fire, then publish a post by Thiessen that only fuels it?

Maybe the editorial staff doesn't have a say? This guy can just fire off posts at his leisure? Too bad.

Posted by: nyskinsfan | May 13, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Thiessen, To characterize President Obama as "eschewing bi-partisanship" is ridiculous. It is the republicans who have refused to reach across the aisle and have offered no solutions to any of the pressing problems of our nation.

Posted by: mbrown4 | May 13, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I do get a kick out of the lefty's who populate the comments. One tells us the Republican's cannot govern as Obama and the Democrats lead us on toward Greece. Another tries to tell us Obama is less polarizing than Bush as Obama time and time again pulls out the race card, tells us to be civil, while he attacks not ideas but personalities. Obama cannot abide by disagreement, Instead he creates strawmen and then proceeds to demolish them, all the while trying to convince us the strawmen are the opposing positions when they are not.

Obama is a serial liar. There is nothing he says we can believe. Just today Orzag is trying to tell us Obama did not "pledge" not to raise taxes on those making less that $200K. No, he only "preferred" not to do so.

BTW lefties, how are those saving on national health care coming along. Oh right, no savings, just lies.

Posted by: RickCaird | May 13, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Thiessen continues to advocate for indiscriminate torture... his consistent victim is the truth. Marc has experience with polarization and polarizing; however, Marc does not have any legitimate commentary to offer on any serious political question. He is a simple, dishonest, political operative.

The Washington Post harms its reputation by publishing this drivel from this dishonest nit-wit.

Posted by: Super_Grover | May 13, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Marc (he torture apologist) Thiessen in terminally clueless. He does not travel, he does not talk with people outside his conservative AEI circle, he cites no sources for his columns and he is an embarrassment to the Post and to Fred Hiatt.

How can someone who knows nothing from anything first hand be given a chance to key tap his columns?

I don't get it.

Posted by: harper-d | May 13, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

2009frank you are full of crap..

Here is your statement;
Marc, you are 100% correct in stating "What makes a successful editorial page does not necessarily make for a successful politician."

The USA is truly divided between two opposing world views - liberal and conservative .
=========================

DUDE you have no WORLD View..

It is the word LIBERAL vs Conservative..
They have no real definition other than creating righteeous indignation over the owrd LIBERAL or Socialism or Environmantal or Democrat..

YOu could care less about the WORLD VIEW..

If you did you would need to have a real conversation with solutions..and you are not about that.

BUT you are cowards and charlitans and chkenhawks, teabuggers and self indulged creationist.

Ironic is that if your side won.
You would be dead in a week from your own kind..

ISA


Posted by: Issa1 | May 13, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Thiessen: "Polarization starts at the top"

-------------------------------------------

No, it starts with bottom feeders like yourself, Thiessen.

Posted by: Supertzar | May 13, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Cardsfan,

Don't be ridiculous. Bush's against us or with us statement was addressed to foreign countries. Stop spreading falsehood.

Obama is the most partisan president in decades.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 13, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I think the editorial has raised a very pertinent question that faces USA today. And Mr. Thiessen offers a very shallow and prosaic response. The level of polarization has been quite high in the last 10 years and probably even in the 90's. It could cause a stalemate (think of the Federal shutdown when Gingrich and Clinton faced off in '95) and cripple country's governance. I think the independent voters have a huge responsibility in making sure that this doesn't happen. They should vote for centrist candidates and punish the parties for putting up ideologues.

Posted by: Sonny5 | May 13, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

The obvious subtext here is Theissen's self-serving excuse for his inclusion on the Post's editorial pages: that it's part of including a wide array of viewpoints. But the point is not well taken. Theissen having a forum on the Post's op-ed page is not objectionable because he holds right-wing views. It is objectionable because he has no intellectual integrity; because of his mendacity (for example, any honest critic would not say that Obama has ignored bipartisanship in favor of a maximal left-wing agenda, and then contrast that with the Bush administration); and at it's core, because he cannot pretend to be an independent voice: he is not a journalist, he is a professional propagandist for the right. His career has been one of being paid to twist the truth for the ends of the Republican party. The Post could find an honest conservative with journalistic credentials to represent the right on its pages. Instead, the Post has discredited its own integrity by hiring not one but two professional Republican propagandists to pose on its op-ed pages as journalists.

Posted by: turningfool | May 13, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Follwing Thiessen's logic and flow, as long as Obama or a Democrat is in the White House, polarization will always be an issue. But when another occupant (i.e., Republican) gets in there the polarization should subside. Golly gee, Mark, you are so scholarly.

In other words, my name is Mark Theissen and I'm a hired right wing political operative undercover at The Post. Topics that I write about come to me from conservative think (!!) tanks like Heritage Foundation or American Enterprise Institute. I realize that basically non of my rambling article makes any sense, but when does that matter to a right winger?

And there you go.

Posted by: ScottChallenger | May 13, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Thiessen writes:

"Politicians must be more than interesting -- they must represent real people, in communities that share common values. Voters want to elect congressmen and senators who reflect their beliefs and will fight for them in the nation’s capital."

Perhaps you can tell me which constituency you think that you speak for.

Quarterback1, go back to sports pages, where you have at least one chance in five of knowing something about a subject. Those odds are a lot better than the 1000:1 odds here.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | May 13, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Thiessen has an agenda. It fits right in with the “Party of No” and, when things stall in Congress (as they almost did with the Health Care Bill), then they can blame the White House and the Majority Party. All of this is to stall for time until November in the hopes that, by creating the frustration in Congress, they can take advantage of the voter’s frustration with Congress and regain power.

The strategy is so obvious...and yet, dishearteningly effective. Mr. Thiessen and the Republicans are banking on the public’s tendency to listen to the loudest voice just before an election. This strategy has worked in the past. Does anyone remember the Swift Boating of John Kerry? Did anyone notice that there was not another word said about Kerry’s war record once the election was lost? Does anyone realize now that the Armed Forces never found any evidence for their claims and never sanctioned Kerry’s service record? Of course not! The public’s “out of sight, out of mind” tendencies are what the Republicans are counting on in November.

Unfortunately, it may work. What other comments have said about the Republicans is true. They talk “small goverment and cut taxes”, but then expand government in favor of big corporations and get us involved in unwinnable wars which drain our Treasury and create tragedy for American families. They cut regulation of Wall Street and of the Oil Industry and now we have had the worst recession since the Great Depression and an oil spill that threatens to “kill” the Gulf of Mexico.

But, people will vote for them....They put on a great show!

Posted by: dmarc | May 13, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

It has truly become difficult for voters like my self to find anybody to vote for. I find myself mostly voting against someone rather than for the oopnant. I am fiscally conservative and like smaller gov, but am very socially liberal, yet don't like the dems wishy-washy immigration stance. There are a lot of Americans in the middle, but the parties hold the money. So independent candidate, while they could get the votes, can't get the same access to money and there for don't really have a leg to stand on when it comes to running their campaigns. Its sad. Maybe if we got rid of the national parties and their deep pockets it would put all candidates on even financial footing and allow us to really pick the best person.

Posted by: schnauzer21 | May 13, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Polarization started with:

CONSERVATISM
TRICKLE "UP" ECONOMICS
IRAQI INVASION
CAPITALISM
CORPORATE GREED
BUSH FEDERAL DEFICITS
BUSH MALFEASANCE
ILLEGAL WIRE TAPPING
WATER BOARDING
MORTGAGE FRAUD
SUB-PRIME LENDING
LOW TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH
BIRTHERS
TEA BAGGERS
RACIST
PRO GUN ADVOCATES RUNNING AROUND IN NATIONAL PARKS
BIGOTS
RIGHT-WING EXTREMIST
PURITY TEST


etc., etc.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | May 13, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

The GOP: Grand Obstructionist Party. From the Prof. Wagstaff school: "Whatever it is, I'm against it". Thiessen, your a joke. Stick to writing speeches for the Do Nothings.

Posted by: jckdoors | May 13, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Let's stop for a moment and ask why the Republican members of Congress can vote 100% against healthcare legislation that they had significant influence over? Does Thiessen acknowledge that the final legislation incorporated positions advocated by current Republican members of both houses? Does he also note that within the Democratic caucus there was considerable give and take along the political spectrum? The difference between the two parties, and it works to the detriment of having a unified "message" is that the Democrats encompass a wide range of opinions about what needs to be done for America. The Republicans seem ultimately disinterested in the real world consequences of politics, which as the saying goes is the Art of the Possible and that demands compromise.
When you reduce your perspective to a single nearly theological view of how to govern it is impossible to find common ground. That is the pity of American politics today, and it is hardly surprising that this all-or-nothing approach is being pushed by the same party that has catered to the religious right. It's not politics for these people, it is theology. How do you get Republicans to work with Democrats when the Republican activists as epitomized by the Tea Baggers are ready to burn such politicians at the stake as heretics?

Posted by: gratianus | May 13, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Oboobma's arrogance, his contempt for ordinary Americans, and his extremist ideology have, in a few short months, made this the most divisive presidency in generations.

Posted by: thebump | May 13, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

A moonbat offers the startling claim that "Democrats encompass a wide range of opinions."

I'm not sure that various shades of moonbattery actually constitutes a "wide range" of the spectrum.

Posted by: thebump | May 13, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

So if GOP is for less Government and less taxes...what is the Dems for - Bigger Government - Bigger taxes - bigger spending? The Government payroll - the public sector is growing twice the private sector....w/ much more lavish pensions and benefits. Can you say "Greece".......and or VAT, short1 wrote.
====
Once again, juvenile revisionism by the right wing. Ronny Reagan began the growth of big, big government and Bush finished the job by expanding the government greatly, along with ballooning deficits and dropping revenues. The Republicans know how to spend big and leave the unpaid bills for the next Democratic administration.

Posted by: lewfournier1 | May 13, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

This is an amazingly blinkered article. The failure to achieve bipartisanship on various important measures has nothing to do with a failure to seek it. The minority party chose to pout and avoid any meaningful effort to work with the majority; then, having kept themselves from even attempting to contribute to the legislation, they whine about how uncompromisingly radical it is and withhold any measure of statesmanship. The Obama Administration seriously compromised the potential scope of health care reform, etc., in return for which they didn't even get the slightest effort at compromise from the Republicans. The reason Clinton and Bush got bipartisanship is because they both dealt with a Republican-controlled Congress, thus bipartisanship came from conservative/centrist Democrats who valued legislation and the people's business beyond the pettiness of partisanship. The Republican minority feels no such loyalty to the American people and has no such values.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 13, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Thiessen is correct in pointing out that the Washington Post gives war criminals, apologists for war criminals like himself, and conservatives who don't let facts interfere with bad arguments free rein to spew forth misinformation, disinformation, and plain ordinary lies and concoctions.

I sincerely wish that President Obama DID have a liberal agenda that he was willing to go to the mat for. Instead, he and Harry Reid threw away most of the first year of his presidency trying fruitlessly to get Republican cooperation on a pretty weak version of health care reform. In the end, on health care reform (as on many other issues)Republicans voted against -- they even voted against pieces of legislation that they had themselves sponsored. (Jonny Issacson [sic] was the person who proposed what Frank Luntz and Sarah Palin grotesquely called "death panels."

Mr. Thiessen writes: "Politicians must be more than interesting -- they must represent real people, in communities that share common values. Voters want to elect congressmen and senators who reflect their beliefs and will fight for them in the nation’s capital."

I could be wrong, but I hope not. I doubt that there are few even Republican Christianist actual parents who would be so depraved that they would rather have their children suffer illness than get them proper medical treatment. Mr. Thiessen, Senator McConnell, Rep. Boehner, et al. clearly disagree with me. I seriously doubt whether many Americans really wanted to see their fellow Americans killed or injured, or even Iraqis killed or injured, because of lies about weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Thiessen clearly does believe they do -- and continues to express this belief in this very column!

Who is subsidizing Mr. Thiessen's column? "Inquiring minds want to know."

Posted by: edallan | May 13, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The good news is that I found myself repeatedly nodding in agreement with the first five paragraphs of this column. But alas, Mr. Thiessen reverted to type in the penultimate paragraph, with its ludicrous claims that Pres. Obama is pursuing a radical agenda, refusing to listen to his opponents, etc. Complete poppycock!

Still, I am heartened to discover that he was able to sustain a rational analysis for as long as he did. Maybe there's hope for him yet!

Posted by: DCSteve1 | May 13, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Torture Thiessen, like the rest of the radical right wing Republicans, has no interest in ending partisanship. They live for it. They have no interest in seeing the country prosper under a Democrat. It is anathema to them. They are interested only in power (and when they get it, they abuse it).

Posted by: gposner | May 13, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Did the Post put Thiessen on it's payroll just to stir up crap?

This is the most dumb$#% thing I've read by this guy, and that is saying a LOT.

What Thiessen last sentence really means is that the the polarization will stop when Obama achieves the same polarity as the right wing of the GOP.

To say Obama is the primary source of the current polarization is just unbelievably dishonest. The GOP was in the attack mode the minute Obama won the Presidential election. They didn't even wait for his inauguration to make it clear that their only agenda was going to be to stop the Obama agenda. They have done nothing to tone down the vitriol from the most rabid of their constituency - to the contrary, they have encouraged it by wink and nod.

Thiessen has gone from being a blatant partisan hack to be a blatant partisan BS liar. He has proven himself to be actually be the over-fed pighead his picture portrays. Take a good at his eyes and his collar. I expect that feeding from the Chamber of Commerce trough will cause them to disappear completely.

Posted by: st50taw | May 13, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Did the Post put Thiessen on it's payroll just to stir up crap?

This is the most dumb$#% thing I've read by this guy, and that is saying a LOT.

What Thiessen last sentence really means is that the the polarization will stop when Obama achieves the same polarity as the right wing of the GOP.

To say Obama is the primary source of the current polarization is just unbelievably dishonest. The GOP was in the attack mode the minute Obama won the Presidential election. They didn't even wait for his inauguration to make it clear that their only agenda was going to be to stop the Obama agenda. They have done nothing to tone down the vitriol from the most rabid of their constituency - to the contrary, they have encouraged it by wink and nod.

Thiessen has gone from being a blatant partisan hack to being a blatant partisan BS'ing liar. He has proven himself to actually be the over-fed pig his picture portrays. Take a good at his eyes and his collar. I expect that feeding from the Chamber of Commerce trough will cause them to disappear completely before long.

Posted by: st50taw | May 13, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

This is not April 1st so it's not an April Fool's column but Thiessen, who does not have an acquaintance with truth continues to write as if no one knows history and will allow him to write it to his liking.

No polarization during Clinton and Bush (impeachment; health care; Iraq War; "with us or against us"; etc.).

Pres. Obama was elected to serve the people but bi-partisan does NOT mean giving in the party of NO.

Posted by: rlj1 | May 13, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Issa1 You are a twit! Evidenced by your inane comment!

First you rant, incorrectly: "It is the word LIBERAL vs Conservative..
They have no real definition. . ."

Then, you rudely go on: " Ironic is that if your side won…."
-------------
ISA, if the words did not have meaning then you could not attribute either to your or my side. The reality is that each word does have significant meaning and, as a LIBERAL, I know exactly what your world view is - and you know that of Conservatives.

Again, the USA is truly divided between the two opposing world views - liberal and conservative - that are abhorrent to each other even dividing friends and family. Abortion is an example of that divide as is fiscal responsibility.

Politicians belong to one of those world views and in today's culture that means that the other half is not represented and angry at what is happening to their country. Different from prior generations, these one-sided administrations are acutely divisive and destructive. There is no unity nor will there be until government represents all "The People".

This polarized method of governing is not working - nor is America under Obama.

Posted by: 2009frank | May 13, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

What a surprise. Thiessen turns a balanced critique of purists on the right and left into a partisan attack on Obama.

Who wouldn't have seen that coming?

Clever parliamentary procedures, Thiessen? Like the same ones that the Bush administration tried to use to pass its controversial tax cuts, and then when they were overruled by the parliamentarian, had the parliamentarian fired?

At least Obama didn't sacrifice a dedicated public servant's job in the process of passing healthcare reform.

Oh yeah, and what about that whole year he spent trying to get Republicans to come on board and all the concessions that he made over the course of that year?

Perhaps because you, Thiessen, only get your news from Fox, you weren't aware of the protests (much larger than the Tea Party Protests, in fact) that were against the Iraq invastion (that you so casually call liberation, ignoring how many lives were destroyed and businesses ruined when the security that once existed in Iraq was shattered by a premature and unjust war).

Protests, I kid myself, you seem tragically unaware of the war itself.

To suggest that a President who's biggest controversy yet has merely been the domestic overhaul of our nation's broken healthcare system is somehow more to blame for the partisanship in Washington than a President who forced a war with a country that was no immediate threat to our national security, with evidence that proved to be highly inflated, that's rich.

Posted by: adastraperapathy | May 13, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I never thought I'd see the day when I wished for a Charles Krauthammer column. Thiessen has made that day come to pass. What a smarmy sweathog Thiessen is.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | May 13, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

But Marc, we know the current occupant of the White House won't change his approach. He is no healer of division in this country as he promised to be. To the contrary. Clearly division has deepened and will continue to deepen.

Posted by: ttj1 | May 13, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

It's painfully obvious from reading the knee-jerk, vitriolic rantings of the leftist ignorati, that we have reached the point commonly referred to as irreconcilable differences. So time to call in the lawyers, split the property, and go our separate ways. The libtards can have the Rust Belt, Left Coast, and the 47 percent who pay no taxes. Don't let the door slap you in the butt on the way out.

Posted by: jpost1 | May 13, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I know commentators like Thiessen have a partisan point-of-view, so I don't exactly expect a balanced analysis, but... Wow, just wow.

Pointing the finger at Obama for the partisan deadlock in Washington, when he has on several occasions has demonstrably bent over backwards in an attempt to attract Republican support for legislation (and I mean with real compromises in the contents of bills & watering down of actual legislation, not just pretty words), and has angered his own base constituency in the process, is just plain nuts.

Is this really the way people on the Right think? Does the Republican view of compromise and bipartisanship really boil down to "do what I want?" I hope not, because it's pretty much impossible to have a rational discussion with anyone who carries such a completely distorted view of reality.

Frankly, it seems the real reason for the partisan rancor in this country has little or nothing to do with the substance of Obama's policy agenda. Rather, it has all the marks of a full-on tantrum by a group of (frankly, childish) partisans, so used to getting their way over the previous 8 years, that they cannot come to terms with being out of power. The cognitive dissonance at work here is utterly overwhelming.

Posted by: mrmarkp | May 13, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Obama didn't 'avoid' Republican input on health reform. He desperately sought it, but DeMint, et al. decided to oppose it no matter what, betting that they could defeat it just to deprive Obama of success on such a major scale no matter what the bill had in it.

In fact, the bill is mostly stuff Republicans wanted, from Grassley and Baucus' cooperation on Senate finance.

And the bill is less radical than Nixon's, which had an individual mandate AND a public option. Obama deliberately introduced the old Republican health reform proposal assuming, or at least hoping, that it would be a bit dicey for republicans to demagogue their own legislation. Of course that was assuming they had any shame whatever, which they proved they did not.

Posted by: JoeT1 | May 13, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I was calmly, peacefully reading through Mr. Thiessen's blog until I got to the hand grenade that exploded in the penultimate paragraph - "President Obama has eschewed the bipartisanship pursued by his predecessors".

I had to stop a few moments for the ringing in my ears to stop and the concussion to my brain from that sentence had passed.

During virtually his entire presidency, George W. Bush acted as if Democrats were a total nuisance to be shunted and kicked to the curb.

W.'s political strategist, Karl Rove, openly stated his aim was to achieve "a permanent Republican majority".

The Bush administrations director of the General Services Administration held staff meetings aimed at promoting the election of Republican candidates, which is against the law, and is a highly partisan act.

The list of actions by George W. Bush and his administration directed at demeaning, marginalizing and eliminating Democratic officeholders is legendary.

What they did to the Democratic governor of Alabama appears to unbelievably criminal.

The term 'red state-blue state" became common during the George W. Bush presidency.

The polarization of our country's politics BEGAN with Obama's predecessor Bill Clinton, but it was accelerated greatly by George W. Bush.

Mr. Thiessen has proved once again - he is a PARTISAN hack, and probably one of the most unqualified persons in America to give recommendations on how to reduce our polarization.

Posted by: marks1940 | May 13, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Listening to these right wings hacks is like living in Bizarro World. Whatever the reality is, they believe (or at least say) the exact opposite. How many times did W consult the miniority party in his eight disasterous years....really, how many times, Mr Theissen? Less than Obama has in 1.5 yrs by any sane persons count. To say that Obama is the cause of the bitter partisanship in Washington is as crazy as saying: Mission Accomplished, You're doing a heck of a job Brownie, the insurgency is in it's last throes, we'll be greeted as liberators, oil revenues will pay for the cost of reconstruction in Iraq...etc, etc..... I could go on, but I'll leave the "crazy talk" for Mr Theissen and his next piece of rubbish. YOU PEOPLE ARE CRAZY!!!!

Posted by: GCHeels | May 13, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

".....a maximist liberal agenda."

LPS

Limbaugh Parrot Syndrome

in epidemic at Hiatt's assisted living center for washed up speechwriters for George the Dumber.

Posted by: areyousaying | May 13, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Thiesen is part of the problem. What a hack.

Posted by: DavidH3 | May 13, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Just shut up, Thiessen. It's beyond belief that you would open your fat yap on this subject. If anyone is responsible for the poisonous partisanship the makes up politics today, it's mostly creeps like you who cheered for the rape of the Constitution and called anyone who disagreed with you a traitor.

You are an utterly disgusting slug of a human, Thiessen. Rot in hell.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | May 13, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Like Thiessen, I miss the good old days of peace, love, and Karl Rove.

Posted by: turkerm | May 13, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

If Polarization starts at the top, does that make Marc Thiessen a bottom?

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | May 13, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Wow. So the extreme polarization we've witnessed all these years is really all Obama's fault...because he passed a health care bill?

This piece is beyond insane. Somehow, Mr. Thiessen makes even Charles Krauthammer look mainstream.

Somebody, please, lock this man up and throw away the key.

Posted by: Gladiator2008 | May 13, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Theissen responds to a call to end partisanship with a partisan screed. 'Nuff said.

Posted by: dpc2003 | May 13, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Nice, Theissen.

After 10 years of being spat upon, shat upon, called a terrorist sympathizer and traitor by you people I want absolutely nothing to do with any of you. If you have (R) after your name you can go to hell and take your GD flag lapel wearing brown shirts with you. Standing on the bodies of the 9/11 victims as a vehicle for your 'permanent majority' was a disgraceful act of political opportunism which I will NEVER forget. I never thought any American would stoop that low. Until I heard about Cheney's dark side, aka torture.

Your party embraces torture. You are unAmerican zealots who would gladly destroy this country and every decent thing we stand for if it meant you could return to power. I will never join your bloodthirsty mob of degenerate torture lovers.

Posted by: aartmann112004 | May 13, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

"Conservatives are energized to elect candidates who will stand up to Obama and fight his efforts to expand the size and scope of government."

The GOP, under George Bush, expanded both the scope and power of the federal government beyond anything ever seen in this country including unlimited, unaccountable domestic surveillance complete with an eye in the sky.

The sheer hypocrisy shown by clowns like Theissen is staggering to say the least. Make no mistake, GOP scum like him LOOOOVE Big Brother, as long as THEY run it.

You are one sick puppy Theissen, but a perfect example of how low Republicans will go. Their is no limit to your disgusting behavior.

Posted by: aartmann112004 | May 13, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

"Obama has eschewed the bipartisanship pursued by his predecessors, President Bush (No Child Left Behind) and President Clinton (NAFTA, welfare reform), in their first years in office."

Do you even remember Karl Rove and Bush's divisive behavior? How about Tom DeLay and HIS call for all out war on Democrats? God, you people act like we weren't paying attention. You make me want to puke, you lying pig-eyed sack of crap.

Posted by: aartmann112004 | May 13, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Seeking to bring the President and his administration to its "Waterloo" is Thiessen's idea of cooperative bipartisanship? And Obama, who is often so centrist that progressives are angry, is the reason that bipartisanship has been abandoned after being so ardently pursued by that great healer Bush 43?

Wow . . . . !

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | May 13, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

You lost me when you said the Post supported the "liberation" of Iraq. Do you mean when Bush and Cheney lied and scared us into invading another sovereign nation? We didn't liberate anyone; we overthrew their government and acted like some kind of imperialistic thug.

Posted by: MNUSA | May 13, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Oboobma is the most powerful man in the world. For him to blame anyone but himself is preposterous on its face (but of course that doesn't stop him).

During the campaign the MSM, at Oboobma's direction, packaged and presented Oboobma as some kind of post-ideological saint. His wild-eyed extremism since seizing power shows what a cynical Big Lie that was. Oboobma and the MSM played the gullible for chumps.

Posted by: thebump
*****************************************
Wild-eyed extremism? Name just one example, %$#@-for-brains. I bet you and Thiessen would make a great Laurel and Hardy in brownshirts.

You idiots really believe the principle that if you tell the same lie over and over it becomes the truth.

Obama is far closer to Richard Nixon that he is Karl Marx. Try checking the record instead of watching the idiot box for your education.

Posted by: st50taw | May 13, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

To say that Obama "has pursued a maximalist liberal agenda and refused any real compromise" is really just plain silly.

Whether you are a liberal or a conservative, you should be able to cite a couple of dozen examples of where this assertion is just plain ridiculous, either from your own recollection or from about 5 minutes worth of research.

Posted by: peterTF | May 13, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Starts at the top is right. This is what come down from the top. Racism, corruption, trickery, closed door meetings, special deals, rides in Air Force One, tone deafness, attacks on our business structures, attacks on profits, claims everything is broken, attacks on the Tea Partiers, health care forced down our throats, fundamental change, transformation, socialism, government takeover, social justice, chaos and confusion, and dividing this country for political agenda. With this said how can President Obama say he goes to bed thinking of ways to protect this country and create jobs. Everything he says is a contradiction in what he does.

Posted by: houstonian | May 13, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Please, you partisans, don't think for one minute that the US is divided amongst two world views... liberal and conservative. You partisans are. Most of us are all over the map on lots of issues. Only politicians are black or white on the issues.... and they really aren't, they just act like they are.

Partisans think everyone is partisan because they think everyone is as damaged as they are.

We aren't.

Posted by: steveboyington | May 13, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Thiessen: "When the occupant of the White House changes his approach, or is thrown out of office, the polarization will subside."

Oh, just as it subsided when Obama delayed health care to find a bipartisan solution? Just as it subsided as Bush was thrown from office?

Strange, somehow I believe your thesis bases less on observation than on your desire to get a republican president again... And hey, the republicans being one of the two parts required for bipartisan politics have just the tools needed to make your wishful thesis appear true. Brilliant.

Posted by: Salomo | May 13, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Partisanship starts at the top, eh, Thiessen.

Reminds me of how --it flows downhill: from your keyboard, downhill through washingtonpost.com, all over us.

I would pay good money to watch you get waterboarded.

Posted by: angelos_peter | May 13, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Message to Marc Thiessen:

http://www.godlikeproductions.com/sm/custom/aodaigoa.jpeg

Posted by: angelos_peter | May 13, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

As a moderate, in a family whose political roots in the Republican Party date back to its formation, I'm offended by Theissen's assertion.

Thiessen is a far-right radical who is unfamiliar with the middle ground and does not know moderation.

Obama is a moderate, who must stand strong against a radical right faction that has grabbed hold of the Republican party and is strangling the life out of its founding principles.

Thiessen is living in the frigid sub-zero temperatures of a very extreme pole.

Posted by: colonelpanic | May 13, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

The buck stops with Oboobma. He's the leader. He's the most powerful man in the world. His extremist ideology (after promising to be post-ideological), and his bailouts, takeovers, and trillions upon trillions in debt have deeply divided the country.

Posted by: thebump | May 13, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Torture supporter Thiessen posts another irrelevant column. The Washington Post is pathetic.

Posted by: caphilldcne | May 14, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

"When the occupant of the White House changes his approach, or is thrown out of office, the polarization will subside."
No it won't. Do you think we'll stand by while you racist, sexist, fascist robber barons attempt to crush the masses. Power to the people, death to the pigs! (See, two can play at this game.)

Now really, Obama passes a health care program little from the one that Romney the Republican passed in Massachusetts, and that's a "maximalist liberal agenda?" Single payer is the maximalist liberal agenda. Public option is the minimalist liberal agenda. There are only two things that Obama can do to satisfy the Republic Party, resign or die. He has no intention of doing either. Grover Norquist said that “Bipartisanship is another name for date rape.” (Mother Jones, 2/2004) I think Obama has finally figured that out.

Posted by: sjpatejak | May 14, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

President Obama, very much a centrist, is regarded as radical by the likes of Thiessen because the former Bush speech writer is so far to the right that he thinks Democrats were spring from the loins of Lenin or Stalin. Why does this guy write for the Post? Couldn't he get a job at the Washington Times. He's be more at home there.

Posted by: EddDoerr | May 14, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

"The polarization The Post editorial board decries is a reaction to the radical agenda Obama is pursuing in our nation’s capital."

You want to prate about "radical agendas", Torture-Boy? What about that miscegenation called the New American Century, midwifed by your ex-boss? Thank God that one was stillborn.

You hear Barack's latest speech? After you goons ran our country into the ditch, you really think we're gonna hand you the keys back?

You personally, Thiessen, were and are a poster boy for polarization. If you think we care what you have to say on the subject, you're merely adding cluelessness to your already-demonstrated moral bankruptcy.

Posted by: laboo | May 14, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Sasquatch and several others have apparently told the lie that Bush said "you are either with us or against us" to Democrats so often that they no longer know the truth if try ever did. It was a statement addressed to foreign countries in his post-911 address.

We can judge the merits of all the lefty ranting and whining by their dishonesty on this point--the apocryphal accusation they always make when trying to portray Bush as a divisive partisan. Liberals can't ever give any true examples of Bush's supposed partisanship . They just hate.

Face the facts. No president since at least Johnson has behaved with Obama's scornful and bitter partisanship. He is the very opposite of what he claimed to be. A true Chicago Alinskyite to the core. Bring a gun, not a knife. That's the Obama creed.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 14, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post has become a national disgrace for allowing partisan propaganda like Thiessen's to substitute for the serious political analysis and commentary we used to expect from national publications like the Post. If we wanted to sample the latest right wing talking points we'd turn in to FOX. But that's not why we come to the Post.

And I can almost hear Marc Thiessen giggling like the spoiled, unserious prep-schooler that he is when he wrote this absurdity: "The polarization The Post editorial board decries is a reaction to the radical agenda Obama is pursuing in our nation’s capital. Obama has eschewed the bipartisanship pursued by his predecessors," including Thiessen's old boss, George Bush.

Thiessen knows it isn't true but I'm sure he thought he was very clever for writing it. Thiessen knows perfectly well that the real source of polarization is the fact that the right wing has given up on democracy and declared the new national Democratic governing majority to be outside the mainstream, and that the only thing "radical" about Obama is the label given to him by a right wing propaganda machine that wants to de-legitimize the President and cover up for Republican failings by discrediting the extraordinary deficit federal spending that those inherited problems have created.

Thiessen, just like Gingrich, knows perfectly well that there is nothing radical about the Obama agenda -- not when measured by the magnitude of the crisis he must meet, or when compared to the profligate Republican record over the last 30 years since Reagan that has seen record federal deficits despite its conservative talk of small government.

Posted by: TedFrier | May 17, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

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