Chris Cillizza pens one of those hilariously "impartial" analyses of the state of the U.S. presidency:
Being president is the most powerful job in the world. At which you will almost certainly fail....
The similarities between the Bush presidency and Obama's tenure are striking in that the trends--rank partisanship, the decline of the bully pulpit--that Clinton had only to grapple with toward the end of his time in office have accelerated exponentially over the past 14 years. And the result has been the same in both cases: A president who a majority of the country disapproves of and a country even more split along ideological lines on, well, everything.
No attempt is made by Cillizza to analyze the causational distinctions between George W. Bush and Barack Obama's troubled presidencies. The former bottomed out in job approval and public confidence because time and again he proved himself prodigiously, even breathtakingly incompetent in both foreign and domestic affairs. That's what caused the rise of the "rank partisanship" endemic to Bush II. The opposition's partisanship was not only fair, it was imperative for the good of the nation.
The latter? He entered office with a congressional opposition determined to sabotage his agenda at every turn. The sound virtues or potential demerits of that agenda were wholly immaterial to the opposition's staunch hostility. The congressional GOP would oppose Obama because it could, and because its fevered base demanded it. Reason, pragmatism, necessity--all during a period of extraordinary economic turmoil--none of that was weighed. Republicans would simply torpedo any progress, any recovery, and any policy prudence in any way. Their behavior was tantamount to treason. If foreign foes had inflicted as much harm on the U.S. economy as the GOP either attempted or succeeded in doing, we would have been in a hot war with them.
All of this, Cillizza neglects. Instead, some sort of disembodied "rank partisanship" or invisible hand of attenuated leadership takes firm hold of his analysis. There's no real perpetrator of our wretched state of political affairs. It just sort of ... happened. And no one really knows why.