Obama urges U. of Michigan grads to pursue diversity of thought in a "poisonous political climate"
The Washington Post
May 1, 2010
Reflecting on 15 months as the leader of a polarized nation, President Obama delivered a spirited defense of government on Saturday in a direct rebuttal to Republicans and "tea party" followers who question his politics and his priorities.
Obama called for tolerance and the pursuit of diversity of thought in a "poisonous political climate" and criticized people at both ends of the political spectrum for "throwing around" words such as "socialist," "fascist" and "Soviet-style takeover."
"This kind of vilification and over-the-top rhetoric closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines democratic deliberation," Obama told a crowd of 92,000 at the University of Michigan's commencement. "It prevents learning -- since after all, why should we listen to a fascist' or 'socialist' or 'right-wing nut' or a 'left-wing nut'?"
"What troubles me is when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad," Obama said in a 30-minute address. "For when our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us."