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Kate Obenshain Criticizes Obama In New Book “Divider In Chief”

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November 2, 2012

Kate Obenshain of Young America’s Foundation headlined the second day of our week of free webinars, and the conversation focused on her new book, Divider-In-Chief: The Fraud of Hope and Change. Obenshain’s book criticizes the Obama administration for relying on divisive strategies and bitterness to win at any cost, after campaigning as a post-partisan bridge builder.

“President Obama needs to avoid the messiness of debate and replace it with divisive identity politics to pass his agenda,” Obenshain said, noting that his legislative strategy has been to attract attention to anything other than his ideas, and then to ram those ideas through.

Obenshain speculated that the President’s strategy represented insecurity, as well an unspoken realization that if the American people knew what his policies entailed, they would never support him. She tied his divide-and-distract strategy to the principles of Saul Alinsky, author of the left-wing handbook Rules For Radicals.

As the White House spins it, any criticism of Obama comes out of prejudice, racism, or some other flawed morality–never out of honest democratic opposition. Obenshain does give the President some credit, however: she says that divisiveness and scaremongering have been ” very, very effective.” Obama has sought to divide among class, race, and gender lines, pitting the “99%” against the “millionaires,” nonwhites against whites, and women against men.

Perhaps Obama’s greatest success in divisiveness has been classism, a theme that has persisted throughout this election. Obenshain wondered aloud why Americans are buying into a European-style class system, when “middle class” became the American goal, and, moreover, who gets to decide what constitutes “middle class.” Classism, she says, leads to a poverty of ambition–when all we hear is that everyone needs to be “middle class,” we lose our ability to dream bigger.

Of course, like all other Obama rhetoric, the middle-class focus has been a ruse. The President has held more fundraisers than the previous 43 combined, many in Hollywood and most with an exclusive crowd of millionaires and billionaires.

The “distract” component of Obama’s divide-and-distract strategy allows him to serve the desires of his staunchest special-interst supporters: unions, trial lawyers, and major campaign donors. For example, Obenshain noted that the President quietly exempted many unions from the most unpopular provisions of a healthcare law that he knew would be unpopular among many segments of his base.

Obenshain also pointed to green energy spending, including the Solyndra scandal, as examples of Obama placating his major donors, and the Lily Ledbetter bill as an ultimate combination of special-interest payoffs and divisive rhetoric. By applying the mask of “equal pay for equal work,” Obama was able to sow the seeds of division between woman and men, and cast all opponents of the bill as sexist. Yet despite its noble name, the act does little to protect average women–rather, it’s been a pet interest of trial lawyers for years, and will greatly increase their business.



Kevin Palmer

Staff writer at Franklin Center. Contact me at kevin@watchdogwire.com

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