The Most Misleading Headline. Ever.

So, what’s happening today at the Washington Post?

Obama: The most polarizing president. Ever.

Wow. Ever. Like. Wow.

Now, before you trot out your favorite Blazing Saddles references, let’s have a look at the rumors behind the news:

For 2011, Obama’s third year in office, an average of 80 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing in Gallup tracking polls, as compared to 12 percent of Republicans who felt the same way. That’s a 68-point partisan gap, the highest for any president’s third year in office — ever.

Well, you can’t dispute the numb—

Wait. The highest for any president’s third year in office. Or, if you’d like that in bold, “The highest for any president’s third year in office.”

Can we break that down? Has Obama also set the polarization record for any president’s 857th day in office? Ever? Because that would be, y’know, historic.

While it’s easy to look at the numbers cited above and conclude that Obama has failed at his mission of bringing the country together…

Easy if you’re a fucking DC hack, but let’s set that aside. Because, look! Here’s some polling data that undermines the very headline:

G.W. Bush, 2004: 76-point gap.

G.W. Bush, 2005: 72-point gap.

G.W. Bush, 2006: 70-point gap.

Obama, 2010: 68-point gap.

So Obama doesn’t even take the Bronze for Polarizing Presidents. It’s only news — sorry, “news” — if you limit the range to Year 3, which happens to be Mission Accomplished for Shrub. George W. Bush doesn’t start taking five of the top ten slots until after Our Exceptional Nation realizes the shithole he dug for us.

And where did we find those stats? In the same fucking article. Which would have been a much better article had it skipped the Drudge-baiting headline and lede, and stuck to the broader — and much more relevant — context.

Obama: The most polarizing president. Ever. [WaPo]

Not to mention the fact that “Obama is the most polarizing president ever” is a meaningless statement absent a little context. Specifically: why is he the most polarizing president ever? Is it because of his policies, or because of a massive right-wing echo chamber crying out that he’s a socialist who hates America and isn’t even legitimate because he was born in Kenya, yadda, yadda, yadda? Honestly, that Obama is the most polarizing president in whatever says more about the Right in this country than it does about Obama.

Goddammit! Is Blazing Saddles streaming on Netflix?

@Serolf Divad: It’s actually meaningless in any context, but I was playing along.

The real story — which Cillizza eventually gets to — is that the top seven “polarizing” years are the last seven years. Obama is continuing a trend, not starting one.

And that trend starts in 2004, the year the Quagmire began to reveal itself. Just one more way Bush fucked over the country.

At that point you can mention Fox and Friends, if you’d like. Or dip into the — wait for it — Clinton/Gingrich Era for even more context. It’s not like Our Exceptional Divided Nation is news.

From the Twitterverse: Newt introducer Kelly Clem Rickon warns that Obama re-elect would be “first step into 1000 years of darkness.”

@Dodgerblue: Is it just me, or does any mention of “1000 years of XYZ” have a distinct undertone of Third Reich about it?

@IanJ: i thought the same. the thousand year reich. once again the children on the right who only read the first couple of chapters about ww2, compare obama to hitler. and once again i must say that the comparison is profound considering how hard a mixed race man with an arabic name must work to rise to the position of leader of the nazi party. considering what the nazis stand for and all, he sure had a lot to overcome getting there.

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