Halperin, on CNN last night: "If you are president like Bill Clinton and like George Bush, who is polarizing, if the country remains polarized, this kind of stuff looks horrible and will alienate both sides."
But neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush is really all that "polarizing." Throughout Bill Clinton's second term, the American people approved of his job performance, by pretty healthy margins. Not everyone approved, of course, but his approval ratings were high. That the Beltway chattering class could never understand that people basically thought Bill Clinton was a good president doesn't make it any less true.
And George Bush? There has long been broad consensus that his presidency has been an unmitigated disaster. Again, Beltway journalists like Mark Halperin seem to struggle with this, but the American people have been quite clear for nearly four years: they don't like Bush, don't like the job he has done, and would like him to go away. The latest CNN poll found 72 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush. 72 percent! Bush isn't polarizing; indeed, he has made good on his promise to be a uniter: He has united Americans against him.