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Sunday, May 2, 2010

President on Name-Calling and Democratic Deliberation

At the University of Michigan, President Obama said that polarizing rhetoric can hurt deliberation:
Now, we’ve seen this kind of politics in the past. It’s been practiced by both fringes of the ideological spectrum, by the left and the right, since our nation’s birth. But it’s starting to creep into the center of our discourse. And the problem with it is not the hurt feelings or the bruised egos of the public officials who are criticized. Remember, they signed up for it. Michelle always reminds me of that. (Laughter.) The problem is that this kind of vilification and over-the-top rhetoric closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines democratic deliberation. It prevents learning –- since, after all, why should we listen to a “fascist,” or a “socialist,” or a “right-wing nut,” or a left-wing nut”? (Laughter.)
On August 6, 2009, the president said:
I don't mind, by the way, being responsible; I expect to be held responsible for these issues because I'm the President. (Applause.) But I don't want the folks who created the mess -- I don't want the folks who created the mess do a lot of talking. I want them just to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. (Applause.) I don't mind cleaning up after them, but don't do a lot of talking.