Politicians who tell you their rivals are playing politics must think you’re stupid — and perhaps correctly so
Mitt Romney said something yesterday about President Obama “playing politics” with the issue of immigration — which suggests that Romney is either stupid or thinks you are.
Yes, Obama is playing politics with immigration. Like all presidents, he’s a politician. That’s what politicians do. They play politics.
Presidents also are “always campaigning” (which is another complaint Republicans frequently aim at Obama). Most of any American president’s public appearances and public utterances amount to campaigning for his administrations’ policies or his own electoral fortunes or those of his political party.
Chief executives of the United States don’t just hunker down in their offices, formulating policies and holding meetings. There’s a certain amount of that kind of thing, to be sure, but there also are speeches and news conferences and photo ops and trips to the hinterlands to meet and greet regular folks. All of these are efforts to curry public favor for certain political agendas and to ingratiate oneself with the electorate.
Abraham Lincoln, for one, had a keen understanding of the importance of public opinion and was a master at swaying it to his advantage — at playing politics, as it were.
As Lincoln once put it: “He who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.”
When a president “moulds public sentiment,” he is campaigning, he’s playing politics.
Of course, Republican complaints that Obama is always campaigning and playing politics are of a piece with the other ridiculous gripes we hear from the Obamaphobes: He never mentions God. He’s always apologizing for America. He wants to take away our guns. Etc., etc., etc.
All of this stuff is false. But that doesn’t prevent the people who get most of their information from Fox News, talk radio or right-wing emails from pedding such nonsense as if it were the gospel truth.