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The Politics of Cynicism

4:23 PM, Jul 8, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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President Obama believes he has recognized a sullen spirit of cynicism abroad in the land.  If he has just now tumbled to it, then he has to be the last living soul to have noticed.  As Josh Lederman of the Associated Press reports:

To hear President Barack Obama describe it, there's a creeping case of cynicism setting in across the country, leading Americans to suspect that not only is Washington broken, it's beyond fixing. If that line of thinking continues, it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy with dire long-term ramifications, Obama says. If compromise-minded Americans get so frustrated they just tune out, lawmakers will feel even less pressure to work together for the good of the country.

This is not, of course, the first time the president has noticed this awful blight of cynicism.  He has been wearing this theme out since first he arrived on the national scene.  “Yes we can.”  Not red states and blue states … and so forth.  One suspects that the reason that the President decided to preach from this gospel again is because it worked once and nothing else has lately.  Besides, we are getting close to another election day.

If the president would truly like to diagnose the illness and isolate its causes, he might start with, “If you like your plan … if you like your doctor …”

It is the sort of thing that might leave people thinking they had been cynically manipulated for political advantage.  

But they shouldn’t give up hope.  There is another election coming.

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