Last month, President Barack Obama, while on a campaign swing, told an audience of Hispanics in an interview with Eddie “Piolin” Sotelothat they had to go to the polls and vote in order to “punish their enemies.”
But as election day arrives, President Obama kind of wishes he hadn’t said that. According to AP, “Piolin questioned how Obama could ask Latinos for their vote when many don’t believe he’s worked hard to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
“Obama responded: ‘If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder.'”
But by singling out a group of Americans who favor enforcing laws against illegal immigration as “enemies,” Barack Obama ignited a fire storm of criticism. John Boehner, the current House Minority Leader and likely future Speaker of the House, said, “Sadly, we have a president who uses the word ‘enemy’ for fellow Americans, fellow citizens. He used it for people who disagree with his agenda of bigger government.”
Obama ran for president as a post-partisan/post-racial politician who would unite rather than divide Americans for a common purpose and vision. However, Obama’s presidency has featured the dividing of Americans into warring camps, often by deliberate design by the White House, as it strives to motivate its base into supporting its agenda and voting in the 2010 midterm elections.
The tendency to regard groups of Americans, conservatives, Tea Party activists, whites, small business owners among others as “enemies” is somewhat particularly off-putting considering that President Obama has shown a reluctance to label actual foes of the United States, Al Qaeda and Iran for example, as enemies of the Republic. Obama has shown more of a willingness to be conciliatory to groups of people who want to kill Americans than he is to actual Americans who disagree with his policies.
Belatedly, President Obama seems to have realized how his rhetoric and actions are playing. The day before the 2010 midterm election, Obama told radio host Michael Baisden that perhaps he should have used the less potent term “opponents” instead of “enemies.”
The President of the United States is the President of all Americans, including Tea Party protesters who despise his policies and wish him out of the Oval Office the sooner the better. A great president would realize this and behave accordingly. President Obama has not and, as a result, is receiving the mother of all rebukes at the polls.
Source: Obama: I Should Have Used the Word ‘Opponents’ Instead of ‘Enemies’, Julie Pace, AP, November 2nd, 2010