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Editor's Letter: Red America, Blue America

Can any president effectively govern this nation? It’s an open question, partly because America is not one country, but two.

So maybe he’s not The One after all. Less than three years after greeting Barack Obama’s election with hosannas and tears of joy, his liberal base is deeply disillusioned. He’s spineless, some Democrats are saying. He has no principles. (See Talking points.) This should not come as a surprise: Recent presidencies have followed a similar, humbling arc. Think of George H.W. Bush, booted out of office a year after the Persian Gulf War boosted his approval rating to 88 percent. Or the consummate politician Bill Clinton, barely clinging to his job through the humiliation of a sex scandal and impeachment. Or George W. Bush, fleeing to Texas with the economy in shambles and his approval rating at 22 percent. From the jubilation of a New Beginning, every presidency slides into disenchantment, and then, into scorn.

Can any president effectively govern this nation? It’s an open question, partly because America is not one country, but two. In red America, there is rising enthusiasm for the presidential candidacy of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who boasts of blowing away coyotes with his pistol, questions evolution, and just called on “all Americans’’ to fall on their knees before Jesus. Blue America looks for leadership from a biracial, Harvard-educated law professor who just celebrated his 50th birthday with Hollywood actors, Chicago buddies, and Jay-Z. Every few years, the nation lurches toward one of these poles, with independents choosing the least worst option.Then, after a brief truce, the Civil War commences anew. Good luck to us all, and to whoever wins in 2012. He or she will need it.   

William Falk

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