On Monday evening, former President Barack Obama took the stage at the Baker Institute at Rice University with professional Republican James A Baker and historian Jon Meacham in an event geared to celebrate bipartisanship.
Obama brought his characteristic wit, intellect, insight, charm, and great good humor (edited video here). In his final response, he displayed the last when he stated "not only did I not get indicted, nobody in my Administration got indicted." Turning toward Baker, he added "which, by the way, was the only Administration in modern history that that can be said about." (The passive-aggressive manner made the crack about past GOP presidencies only more poignant.)
Stating "whether it was Cronkite or Brinkley or what have you" (the "what have you" could have included the great Dan Rather, but... Obama), the former president remarked (at 26:39 of the video below)
there was a common set of facts, a baseline around which both parties had to, uh, adapt and respond to and by the time I take office what you increasingly had is a media environment in which if you are a Fox News viewer, you had an entire different reality then if you are a New York Times reader.
Oh, yes. Barack Obama suggested that the credibility of Fox News is roughly that of the New York Times. We should let that sink in.
He later (at 39:21) argued
When it comes to gerrymandering, it is absolutely true that Democrats do the same thing that Republicans do. If they're in control, then they will try to maximize the number of seats they have and vice-versa.
Up to a point, sir. Before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in January 2018 found the congressional districts gerrymandered by a GOP legislature unconstitutional and effected a redrawn map
in 2012, Democratic candidates won slightly more votes in US House elections and Barack Obama won the state. But the state’s 18 House seats didn’t split 9-9 between the parties — instead, Republicans won 13 seats there, and Democrats just won five. No seats changed partisan hands in the 2014 or 2016 elections, either.
Vox noted earlier this year that in an ongoing saga in which congressional districts were radically gerrymandered
North Carolina is evenly or nearly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, Republicans currently hold 10 of the state’s 13 House seats. In their quest for a House majority, even one or two newly competitive seats in North Carolina would be a major boost to Democrats’ chances of taking over at least one chamber of Congress....
But if you look at its congressional maps, Republicans have an incredibly lopsided advantage. That’s intentional; Republican state Rep. Dave Lewis admitted as much in 2016, during the redistricting process.
“I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats, because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats,” Lewis said at a state House hearing.
The map was not redrawn before the elections, and thus the GOP held on to at least nine of those seats (one still undetermined). That's how they win elections.
It shouldn't be too difficult for a former Democratic president, consistently opposed and continuously attacked by Republicans- and especially by GOP TV- for being a Democrat to acknowledge that there are big and consequential differences between the two parties. But Barack Obama won't do that, uttering "Republican Party" or "Republicans" only to add to bothsiderism.
Unfortunately, that is none too surprising. Neither is it surprising that when evaluating his accomplishments at the end of the event, former President Obama noted how much he had helped the energy sector and big business generally.
He did not mention the Affordable Care Act or whatever other progressive initiatives he may have implemented. That may be because of the audience to which he was speaking. It may instead have been that he was particularly proud of policies which should have satisfied Republicans, or because there was little else he was responsible for. Whatever it is, one day, liberals or progressives will have to take an objective look at the years 2009-2016. Or not.
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