Who’s Being Divisive?

I was riding in my car yesterday listening to some political station on my satellite radio when Paul Ryan came on to be interviewed. I don’t even remember most of the conversation, but I noticed when he was asked if he thought there were areas that he could find to work with the president. He gave some lip service to the idea, but he quickly pivoted to saying that President Obama is one of the most divisive leaders we’ve ever had and that he had been mostly successful in taking the country in the direction he wanted. Ryan saw his job as being as uncooperative as possible and to roll back virtually all of the Obama’s accomplishments.

It was kind of striking in its hostility, not so much because he was saying it, but because he was so unapologetic about it. So, it doesn’t surprise me to see him saying much the same things in a new Time piece. He wants to use the next year to draw the sharpest possible contrasts with the president so that the people will have a clear choice about which direction they want the country to go.

I can see the value in having a clear choice, and I’m fairly optimistic that the people won’t choose Ryan’s side, but this doesn’t augur well for the next session of Congress getting anything done.

Ryan intends to pass a series of bills in 2016 that, though most have no chance of advancing, lay out the conservative agenda for America. “I want to make us the party of ideas, to offer the nation an alternative plan, an agenda,” Ryan told TIME. “I really believe that we have an obligation given that we don’t like the direction the country is headed.”

One problem is that the Republicans disagree about a lot of things among themselves, so laying out an agenda that they can agree on isn’t really possible. What is possible, and what they can agree on, is that the president is a divisive guy who should be blocked and vilified at every opportunity.

But, then, who’s being divisive?

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.