End of Decade: Political Partisanship Marks Legacy of 2000s

Obama Defines Political Identity Around Bush

Obama built his political identity around President Bush. He condemned "dumb war" when other Democrats were lining up with Bush to invade Iraq. His promise to overcome the red-blue divide at his national debut, at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, was meant to draw a contrast with Karl Rove's base-driven strategy.

Obama's message of "hope" and "change" was appealing to a nation that had grown sick of the political paralysis of the past 15 years. And when the economy cratered in the last months of Bush's tenure, Obama was there to pick up the pieces.

Through it all, the nation was left basically where it was at the decade's start -- closely divided, and unsure of what's next.

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