Above the fray he provokes

Andrew Sullivan, in the Sunday Times of London, tries to convey the polarized state of American politics to his British audience. Most of what Sullivan says on the subject is “old hat” to Americans. But I found his conclusion, that the polarization may well work to President Bush’s advantage, insightful. Here’s Sullivan’s reasoning:
“[Bush] is a deeply polarizing figure in some quarters but he is the president. And as the president, his rhetoric has been studiedly non-inflammatory. He has rewarded his far right flank not with fiery language but with constant contact, judicial appointments and kinder, gentler Christian boilerplate. This low-key style ensures that although he will never win over that third of the electorate that despises him, he seems more appealing to the middle than the angry left that is now galvanizing the Democratic primary season. He is not a uniter of all; but he is a uniter of what is almost certainly a plurality. Through the fog of a polarized, divided country, he has somehow managed to cobble together a majority. It hovers around 55 percent. And the more the Democrats assail him personally, the shriller and less electable they seem. Perhaps even Bush will come acropper in this difficult terrain. . . .But so far, he is still the relatively calm voice in the middle of the increasingly raucous and uncompromising crowd. The warring words fly over his head. And if Bill Clinton survived the hatred, why on earth should this president not?”


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