Most people stick to the news channels that reinforce their own political views. I do the exact opposite. While a typical Democrat might watch MSNBC for validation and fine-tuned talking points, I turn to Fox News for pure, unfiltered entertainment. Anchors often say something so controversial on social issues in particular that their segments go viral—on any given day in December, I can consistently expect to see a trending video of Gretchen Carlson, Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity denying racism and the “War on Women” one minute while resolutely confirming the “War on Christmas” the next.

When Fox anchors aren’t ironically proving the pervasiveness of sexism, racism and homophobia in our culture, they are showing their partisanship by suggesting that every political or economic roadblock the United States faces is exclusively the result of President Obama’s leadership. Every week Jeanine Pirro fills her segment with anti-Obama hysteria—three of her most recent segments on her show’s website are titled “More empty rhetoric from Obama,” “Arab nations know Obama is not a true ally” and “Obama puts Americans on wrong side of history.” With such sensationalist headlines as these, it is no wonder that our President has such a poor international reputation—Americans on the right and the left criticize him as if he is a dictator making decisions intentionally opposed to the interests of the majority of citizens who elected him twice in a row.

These criticisms have become just as commonplace at Duke as they have elsewhere among Republicans and even Democrats who think that their party needs to distance itself from the President in order to retain the White House in 2016. President Obama himself has become a more potent conversational frame than his policies. This marks the point at which I believe criticism is more harmful than constructive. A day doesn’t go by lately without a columnist or a news anchor criticizing Obama’s golf meetings, his use of the executive order while working with a crippled Congress or his vacation time. Such public condemnation is unwarranted and entirely political, especially when right-leaning criticisms of executive orders and vacation time were virtually nonexistent during the presidencies of Reagan (who issued more executive orders in his first term than Obama has so far in both) and W. Bush (who took nearly three times the number of vacation days as Obama has).

Whenever the criticisms become more substantial, I respond with skepticism. Nothing humors me like a Duke student in class explaining how the Affordable Care Act will hurt the economy with his limited Economics 101 jargon, like overhearing a conversation at Marketplace about how Mitt Romney would have handled the Syrian Civil War better by a group of students who likely couldn’t identify Syria on a map or like a friend complaining about the Central American immigration crisis without realizing that part of U.S. law is a clause holding that any international refugee has the right to apply for asylum.

I do not mean to say that we are responsible for knowing every minor detail of a topic to have an opinion on it—obviously someone doesn’t need to know precisely where in the world Syria is in order to have an opinion about U.S. foreign policy. That said, there is a fine line between having an opinion to exercise civic duty and having an opinion to be a self-proclaimed partisan pundit.

On campus I respond to blanket statements about how President Obama is the worst President in U.S. history by asking questions. Usually I just ask critics to put themselves in the President’s shoes. If you were in charge of one of the few developed nations in the world lacking universal health care, how would you go about instigating such monumental policy change? If you were President during the peak of the Syrian Civil War, what would you have done besides drawing a red line around chemical warfare—how would you have responded once this line was crossed? If you were responsible for being the leader of a public highly averse to returning to war, how would you react to a group of radical Islamists sweeping across Syria and Iraq?

Odds are you don’t have perfectly crystallized answers to these questions. And if you do, on either side of each issue, they are likely based on oversimplified assumptions about the various actors involved in each of these events, fed to you by frames provided by the media. That’s normal. Duke students are opinionated, and most don’t have time to keep up with the nuances of politics and international relations every day. But while philosophical debates can be fun and enlightening, ignorant partisanship can only be crippling.

President George W. Bush’s public approval skyrocketed in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Debate continued about the merits of going to war in response, but people everywhere stood in support of our leadership and of each other. We shouldn’t need tragedy to be united. By the same token, we should perpetuate an environment in which we can debate the merits of policy while simultaneously respecting our leaders of all parties. With that, I’d like to say thanks, Obama, for the toughest job in the world so far well done.

Brendan McCartney is a Trinity junior. His column runs every other Tuesday.