It is difficult to write about Barack Obama and stay on topic because of his rhetorical ju-jitsu and inconsistent position shifts. Recall when he said there is no reason the United States can't burn clean coal; or when he said this week that he didn't set a red line on Syria.
When he entered the national stage in Iowa in 2007, he courted na´ve voters by pledging to elevate the tone of modern politics, saying "I don't want to pit red America against blue America."
In his speech about race ("A More Perfect Union"), he intoned, "We can accept a politics that breeds division and conflict.or we can come together and say: 'Not this time.'"
Or as he lectured later, America needs to "resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long." This is all lofty rhetoric, but it sounds like a bad joke after five years, because divisiveness is what defines the man. Identity politics: Race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, etc. Divide the electorate and focus upon their perceived self-interest. Then get their vote. It works.
And the defining moment of his life, according to his wife, was his early years as a community organizer. If one can understand this, one can understand the man. The function of a community organizer, by definition, is to promote conflict - to pit people against each other - and to pit people against institutions and the government; the goal being social change and a new order. The last thing the president wants to do is to bring people together. So it is perfectly understandable when he attacks Congress, rather than leading it. Even his Democratic Senate hardly sees the guy. He is removed and aloof, only listening to his inner circle of power led by leftist-to-the-core Chicagoan Valerie Jarrett, who is his and Michelle Obama's most trusted adviser. What does America know about her? Don't depend on the mainstream media for answers.
A subtle but revealing example of how his mind works - and bearing in mind his "A More Perfect Union" speech - was his Trayvon Martin moment when he said that Trayvon Martin could have been his son. Now this was in the setting of his death at the hands of a media created "white" Hispanic. The issue of race for Obama was critical to keeping the country divided. (Many political experts think presidential critiques of purely local issues are ill-advised given the demanding, complex national issues of the economy and foreign affairs.)
He did not raise the issue of race when Black Chicago honor student Hadiya Pendleton, who performed at his inauguration, was gunned down by drive-by gunslingers one mile from Obama's house. It did not fit Obama's race rubric for him to say that Hadiya could have been his daughter. It would have been helpful for him to have used the bully pulpit to discuss the tragedy of black-on-black gun shootings, and reiterate his position on gun control in a city with some of the nation's strictest gun laws but yet is subject to endless gun violence. He should be more visible in his support of black leaders who convened an emergency summit in Chicago to develop strategies to curb this relentless bloodshed in black neighborhoods.
The shooting death of white 22 year-old Australian college student Christopher Lane could have been a profound teaching moment for the president and highlighted his own racial identity. Lane was shot in the back by black teenager Chancy Luna, who with a couple of other teens was following him in a car and shot him "just for the fun of it."
The president could hardly say that Lane could have been his son; but by opening the door with his Trayvon analogy, he could have said Lane could have been his mother's (Ann Dunham) nephew. That would throw a monkey wrench into the Democrat's predictable, weary racial rhetoric. It would have confounded his liberal supporters and blacks - his most reliable voting bloc.
And carrying this one step further, when Delbert "Shorty" Belton, an 88-year-old World War II veteran, wounded in Okinawa, was beaten to death by two black teenagers outside the Eagles Lodge in Spokane, Wash., the president had another opportunity to remind Americans that we are a hodgepodge of racial and ethnic identities.
After all, if Trayvon could have been his son, then surely, this 88-year-old veteran could have been his grandfather's (Stanley Dunham) brother.
He simply couldn't go there with any of these other horrible tragedies because these killers were not "white" Hispanics. If he had opened the door to the obvious - that most Americans are a "Heinz" variety of nationalities, ethnicities and races - it would have been a healing moment and befuddled his supporters - certainly the mainstream media.
And if you recall their print and TV reporting of all these killings, other than Trayvon Martin's where it was all about race, it was rare to find the killers or even the victims identified by race.
It is incongruous for the president to have said in 2011 that identity politics "is an enormous distraction," yet practices hardball identity politics consistently. This doctrine goes well beyond John Edwards' "two Americas." Obama sees an America divisible into many parts and disunited.
This flies in the face of the Pledge of Allegiance, which clearly describes America as "one nation" and "indivisible."
John Reiniers is a retired attorney and regular columnist who lives in Spring Hill.