Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo
President Barack Obama smiles as he arrives at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Friday Oct. 22, 2010.
Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo
Republicans continue to pounce on President Obama for attempting to fire up his political base last week, specifically Latino voters, by urging them to rally to the aid of their political "friends" to thwart their political "enemies."
Even a well-known Democrat like John Podesta, President Clinton's White House chief of staff, mildly chided the president during a Monday appearance on CNBC, for not using a different word. Some have suggested the president might have wanted to go with something softer like "opponents."
But Podesta also said:
"In the end of the day, President Obama has been a guy who during the course of his career has tried to bridge gaps and tried to find center ground. I think he'll come away from this election trying to do it again."
That's true. As a law student, when Obama became president of the Harvard Law Review, he would up getting support from conservative law students because he accepted the validity of some of their positions.
Similarly, in Springfield, Illinois as a state lawmaker, he was known for reaching across the aisle. It was actually one of those traits of his that didn't necessarily endear him to many in his party. And still doesn't.
One interesting aspect of the Republican counterattack on Obama for labeling them enemies, is to use the kerfuffle as another chance to depict Obama as out of the American mainstream, as "the other," as unAmerican.
The Salem (Ohio) News reported that at a campaign appearance over the weekend, Republican Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the following:
"You know, when President Bush, President Reagan, President Clinton and George W. Bush used the word enemies, they were referring to global terrorism or dictators around the world who hated freedom and hated America. For the president to use that word about people who oppose bigger government, people who are freedom loving and love our Constitution, I tell you I find that very appalling," he said.
"Mr. President, I've got a word for those people who oppose you're policies, those people who love our country and Constitution, who love freedom and the principles America was founded on. You know what I call them? Not enemies. They're patriots," Boehner said.
Boehner is expected to make the same argument in his Monday evening closing speech of the campaign.
Actually, the president seemed to be using "enemies" specifically about people hostile to priorities — like immigration reform — of many Latino voters.
It's unclear how Boehner got from that to the president hating America and patriots. But all's fair in politics.