Sunday, January 31, 2010

They only say it because he's black.

I was wandering around the Interwebs yesterday looking for a good picture for the tabloid story about drunken White House parties, and I found this lolz on several right wing websites.

I've been listening to the way conservatives have been trying to frame their distaste for Obama for well over a year, and they are all over the place. Of course, there are the Birthers who believe he isn't a citizen so the election is illegal. There are some who think he has to be a criminal because he's from Chicago. And there are those who insinuate that he's stupid. Their evidence is that he has made misstatements, the most famous being that once he claimed to have visited all 57 states, that he says "um" and "er" when speaking off the cuff, and that he's no good without a teleprompter.

This week, Barack Obama went in front of a group of House Republicans and had a dialogue with them for 82 minutes. Left wing websites will tell you Obama made them look bad, right wing websites will tell you they made Obama look bad. Here are two more telling responses. House Republican aides are now saying they should never have let it be televised, and Fox News broke off coverage about 20 minutes before it was over to give more time to a panel of Obama bashers.

It was a 100 against 1 battle, and the 100 were badly outclassed. Regardless of your political persuasion, you have to admit Obama did something no American politician has had the guts to do in over 50 years. It goes without saying that George W. Bush would have been eaten alive if the tables were turned, but nobody, not Clinton, not Reagan, not Nixon, LBJ or JFK ever even tried this. British politicians have to do it every week on Question Time. The vast majority of American politicians would fold like cheap lawn chairs if they had to do this, or they would just mouth the party line. Obama can think on his feet, and that isn't easy.

Conservatives have not come together in a single cohesive group to decide exactly what are the acceptable reasons to hate Barack Obama. You have the crazies who think he's a foreigner, you have the populists who think he's an elitist, you have a lot of people who don't know what socialism is who think he's a socialist and you have the racists who think he must be stupid because he is part black.

I've heard this kind of "speaking in code" before. Years ago, I used to play golf at the crack of dawn and the foursome would often have breakfast together afterwards. One of the guys had a deep hatred of Willie Brown and expressed it over eggs and hash browns one day. While Brown is a Democratic politician and allegedly liberal, I was not up to defending him against charges of being a crook, because he was and is a crook. But at the end of the rant, my golfing buddy called Brown "stupid". That I challenged. Whatever else Willie Brown is, he is shrewd and a gifted politician, not unlike other people I have a hard time defending like Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. The way my golfing partner sputtered when pressed on this point, I got the distinct impression that he only called Brown stupid because Brown is black.

I think part of the "Obama is stupid" crowd want to get back at the leftists who mocked George W. Bush and still mock Sarah Palin for being dull-witted. While the desire for tit-for-tat revenge is understandable, the problem is that Bush and Palin did show themselves to be stupid on many occasions. It's not just how well they did in school or the considerable number of gaffes they have made in public speaking. It's the times they were asked questions and had no cohesive answers, but still managed to babble for twenty seconds in some completely meaningless run-on sentence that they thought would fool the listener. When people are as intellectually challenged as Bush and Palin, being stupid is so deeply ingrained in them that they don't even realize they are stupid.

Barack Obama has his faults, as all of us do. But being stupid isn't one of them, and the right wing would do well to keep those who want to call him stupid as far away from microphones as possible.


Fran said...

I just home from the supermarket, where I stood in line and surveyed that drunken WH headline and thought of you. And here you are.

This may be the best post you have written in a long time, maybe ever. And you have some very great posts Matty.

The defensiveness over Bush and Palin combined with the shoot first mentality of so much of the right these days, creates this "being stupid as a result of being black" mentality.

susan s. said...

I came to read this because that Fran linked to you. Thanks for this. I can hardly believe that anyone could call Brown or Obama stupid and expect to get away with it. You've hit the nail on the head, Matty.

whiteycat said...

Fran sent me. Great post and so very true.

Fran said...

I linked to you from my FB page Matty. And@Susan and @whiteycat, you may recognize Matty from being a long time real life friend of our beloved Padre from Panama, Mickey.

Matty Boy said...

Thanks to all who left comments. Some people call this kind of stuff "dog whistle" politics, messages meant for the faithful that will allegedly go right past those who are not steeped in the language of the opposing camp.

Years ago, I was talking to my conservative father about Pat Buchanan.

"It's like he's talking in code." I complained.

"Yes, but it's not a secret code." my father replied.

For those new to my blog, let it be known that I love my father.

Cheryl said...

Fran forwarded this to me and I thank her for that. I have met and engaged in conversation with Brown, Obama AND Bush. The one thing I can say that applies to all three is that they are all charismatic (yes Bush is charismatic I said it!). It may have masked his stupidity and therein lies the difference:the other two needed no mask to hide behind.

Matty Boy said...

Hi, Cheryl, thanks for commenting. As much as I dislike Bush, a lot of people do like him. One of the big problems the Republican Party has is they don't have a candidate who can put a friendly face on policies that aren't very friendly to a lot of the population. They have some hope that Sarah Palin or Scott Brown might be that next charismatic character. We will see how that story plays out in the years ahead.

Mauigirl said...

Matty, very well said - agree completely with your post.

Fran said...

I am so glad that Cheryl not only read this but commented. Cheryl is a former colleague of mine and a very fine human being. She is in a unique position to comment on these matters, as you can see.

Karen Zipdrive said...

Wow, nice post MB.
I noticed Chris Matthews said after Obama's SotU speech that he 'forgot Obama was black for an entire hour.'
I thought to myself, what the hell did he mean by that, was it meant as a compliment or an insult or what?
What if Matthews had said he forgot Hillary was a woman?
In the old days, white people complimented accomplished blacks by saying they were "a credit to their race."
I guess people fail to see their own innate racism.
One thing about right wingers, you know racism is part of their shtick without them bothering to shellac it.
Calling Obama stupid is an obvious substitute for the N word. They know it, Obama knows it and we know it.