Monday, February 22, 2016

Duh! Of course it's about race!

As TPM points out, this latest snub is the ultimate attempt by Republicans to delegitimize our first black president:
"I'm amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the Constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there," Obama said.

But in the blatant declaration that Obama should not even put forward a new Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia's death, Republicans are continuing to delegitimize a president that they have long sought to undercut. Many observers view the Supreme Court emerging drama in the Senate as the pinnacle of the drawn out, deep-seated and racially tinged effort to block America's first black president from leaving a lasting legacy on the country that elected him twice.

Obama's presidency has been marked repeatedly by moments where opponents have sought to define him as "other." As recently as September 2015, 43 percent of Republican voters still believed Obama was Muslim despite Obama's strong and consistent public affirmations of his Christian faith. Twenty percent of Americans still thought Obama had been born outside of the United States despite the fact that the president has publicly turned over his birth certificate identifying that he was born in Hawaii. [Funny, but Ted Cruz was not born in America, and neither was John McCain. Neither of those facts tended to bother the 'birthers,' though.]

"Clearly, you have an element in the Republican Party who is very uncomfortable with diversity in this country," says Cornell Belcher, the president of Brilliant Corners Research & Strategies and a former pollster for both the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign.

Some congressional actions against Obama have been blatantly demeaning and disrespectful, from the time Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) screamed "you lie" in a visceral outburst at Obama as he delivered a health care address before Congress in 2009 or the time Rep. Steve King said in 2008 before Obama was even elected that that if Barack "Hussein" Obama won the White House, terrorists "would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11."

Earlier this month, the Senate and House budget committees broke with decades-old tradition and decided not to invite the president's budget director to testify before their respective committees about the president's budget, a move that one senior staffer to a Congressional Black Caucus member concluded came "from a dark place."

The Supreme Court fight has resurfaced uncomfortable and troubling questions about the nature of the opposition to Obama and the willingness of his opponents to defy norms and conventions that previous presidents were accorded.

"Reagan appointed someone to the court in his last year, LBJ did the same thing," says Michael Eric Dyson," a scholar and author of The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race. "Why was it legitimate for those men in an earlier epoch, but not Barack Obama? How can we conclude anything but race?"

Of course it's about race. It always was. This has been unprecedented in American history, from the very start of Barack Obama's first term, because a black president was also unprecedented in our nation's history. Many racists will simply not accept a black man in the White House, no matter what. (That includes racists who would indignantly deny being racist, too.)

Indeed, this began even before Barack Obama took office for his first term. Before Obama had proposed anything at all, Republican leaders met and agreed to oppose whatever he wanted, no matter what it would be. And they held to that, even when the Democrats adopted the Republican plan for health care reform.

Can you imagine that, for any other president, for any white president? How about when America was at war? How about when America was fighting two wars, and while our economy was also collapsing in the worst economic crash since the Great Depression? How about at a time of national crisis?

It's absolutely unbelievable that any political party would have done that to a white president, and it's even more unbelievable that they would have gotten away with it, if they'd tried. At any time, let alone at a time of national crisis! Can you imagine the uproar - from the media and the public alike - if Obama had been white?

Can you imagine the reaction if the Democrats had done that to George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan? It wouldn't have happened. Period. Of course this has been about race. The very lies that Republicans spread about Barack Obama are only tolerated, let alone believed, because the president is black.

Oh, sure, they'd lie about any Democrat. Certainly, they'd oppose any Democrat. But the extent to which the Republican Party has sought to delegitimize this president is unprecedented in American history. They don't just oppose him. They're encouraging their supporters to think of Obama as not really a legitimate President of the United States at all.

Don't you know that he's not really the president, because ACORN stole both elections for him? Don't you know that he's really Kenyan, and not really an American at all? Don't you know that he's actually working with his fellow Muslim terrorists, and not really for America? All of this, and more, is said about our first black president in an attempt to delegitimize him. He's not really the president, you see, not really an American at all.

That wouldn't even be attempted if Obama were white. Certainly, it wouldn't work. Even Republicans aren't dumb enough, most of them, to believe the lies they spread about Barack Obama - and Michelle Obama, too, I'm sorry to say - if they'd been white.

And from the very beginning, the disrespect they've shown to the President of the United States would not have been tolerated - not even within the GOP itself - if the president had been a white man, certainly not without the president actually doing something to merit it.

This has to end. America has to decide, once and for all, to move forward, rather than back. To be honest, I don't really care who wins the Democratic nomination for president. But we have got to elect another Democrat - especially given the situation in our Supreme Court - if we want America to survive and thrive in the 21st Century.

The Republican Party's notorious 'Southern strategy' of deliberately wooing white racists was hugely successful, politically, and they've used that power to do a great deal of damage to our country in recent decades. But it has to stop. We have to become better than that.

The Republican Party has done this to itself. It can't win, not with these kinds of tactics. America, as we know it, will not survive if we keep heading further down that terrible path.

No comments: