FDR the Divider
Occasional friend of the Ashbrook Center (our token liberal, as he likes to put it) and FDR biographer Jean Edward Smith writes in today's New York Times
that FDR won by dividing, rather than seeking bipartisan consensus. Smith is doing this in part to goad Obama and congressional Democrats to man up and roll over minority Republicans and business opposition to their ideas. He's right--as I argue in my Reagan book, Reagan was a deliberately divisive (at times) and ideological president. However, Smith misses one thing: divisiveness only works if what you split off for yourself represents majority opinion, and isolates less popular opinion. The reason so many Democrats are fearful is that they perceive that forcing a division now like FDR or Reagan will likely leave them a rump at the next election, unlike the case with FDR in the 1930s or Reagan in the 1980s.
10:49 AM / September 3, 2009