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updated: 5/7/2012 12:40 PM

Divider in chief

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Poor Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. Once again he's been pilloried for fumbling a historic Supreme Court case. First shredded for his "train wreck" defense of Obamacare's individual mandate, he is now blamed for the defenestration in oral argument of Obama's challenge to the Arizona immigration law.

The law allows police to check the immigration status of someone stopped for other reasons. Verrilli claimed that constitutes an intrusion on the federal monopoly on immigration enforcement. But he never had a chance. This was never a serious legal challenge in the first place. It was confected (and timed) purely for political effect, to highlight immigration as a campaign issue with which to portray Republicans as anti-Hispanic.

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Hispanics are just the beginning, however. The entire Obama campaign is a slice and dice operation, pandering to one group after another, particularly those that elected Obama in 2008 -- blacks, Hispanics, women, young people -- and for whom the thrill is now gone.

What to do? Try fear. Create division, stir resentment, by whatever means necessary -- bogus court challenges, dead-end Senate bills and a forest of straw men.

Why else would the Justice Department challenge the photo ID law in Texas? To charge Republicans with seeking to disenfranchise Hispanics and blacks, of course.

Next is the "war on women." It sprang to public notice when a 30-year-old student at an elite law school (starting salary upon graduation: $160,000) was denied the inalienable right to have the rest of the citizenry (as coinsured and/or taxpayers -- median household income: $52,000) pay for her contraception.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will resume the battle with a Paycheck Fairness Act that practically encourages frivolous lawsuits and has zero chance of passage.

No matter. Its sole purpose is to keep the war-on-women theme going, while the equally just-for-show Buffett Rule, nicely pitting the 99 percent versus the 1 percent, is a clever bit of class warfare designed to let Democrats play tribune of the middle class.

Ethnicity, race, gender, class. One more box to check: the young. Just four years ago, they swooned in the aisles for Obama. No longer. Not when 54 percent of college graduates under 25 are unemployed or underemployed.

How to shake them from their lethargy? Fear again. Tell them, as Obama repeatedly does, that Paul Ryan's budget would cut Pell Grants by $1,000 each, if his domestic cuts were evenly distributed. (They are not evenly distributed, making the charge a fabrication. But a great applause line.)

What else to run on with 1.7 percent GDP growth (2011), record long-term joblessness and record 8 percent-plus unemployment (38 consecutive months, as of this writing). Slice and dice, group against group.

There is a problem, however. It makes a mockery of Obama's pose as the great transcender, uniter, healer of divisions. This is the man who sprang from nowhere with that thrilling 2004 convention speech declaring that there is "not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America."

That was then. Today, we are just sects with quarrels -- to be exploited for political advantage. And Obama is just the man to fulfill Al Gore's famous mistranslation of our national motto: Out of one, many.


2012, The Washington Post Writers Group

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