January 30, 2005

"Nation split on Bush as uniter or divider"

That was the puckish headline over the cnn.com report of a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released recently, which showed that 49 percent of the respondents believe Bush is a "uniter" while another 49 percent said he was a "divider," and 2 percent had no opinion.

Well, okay, I can see Bush supporters quarreling with the "divider" part (as in, it's not his fault -- what can you with a bunch of leftist soreheads?). But the agentive -er suffix in uniter entails accomplishment , not merely effort -- otherwise I could describe the San Francisco 49ers as winners. And for whatever reason, a "uniter" Bush clearly ain't (I mean, unless people mean by that, "well, hey, he's united me").

You'd figure Bush's supporters could live with that, particularly since the point really isn't subject to partisan disagreement. Why not just bite the bullet and say, as controversial presidents always do, that chosing the right policies takes precedence over choosing the popular ones?

But that's what polarization comes down to these days. Never mind agreeing to disagree; we can't even agree thatwe disagree.

Posted by Geoff Nunberg at January 30, 2005 01:48 AM