Thursday, March 3, 2011

Obama, Race, And The Price Of Tea

The right is howling over excerpts from author Ken Walsh's book on African-Americans and the White House, particularly a passage involving President Obama and the Tea Party:

But Obama, in his most candid moments, acknowledged that race was still a problem. In May 2010, he told guests at a private White House dinner that race was probably a key component in the rising opposition to his presidency from conservatives, especially right-wing activists in the anti-incumbent "Tea Party" movement that was then surging across the country. Many middle-class and working-class whites felt aggrieved and resentful that the federal government was helping other groups, including bankers, automakers, irresponsible people who had defaulted on their mortgages, and the poor, but wasn't helping them nearly enough, he said.

A guest suggested that when Tea Party activists said they wanted to "take back" their country, their real motivation was to stir up anger and anxiety at having a black president, and Obama didn't dispute the idea. He agreed that there was a "subterranean agenda" in the anti-Obama movement—a racially biased one—that was unfortunate. But he sadly conceded that there was little he could do about it.

His goal, he said, was to be as effective and empathetic a president as possible for all Americans. If he could accomplish that, it would advance racial progress for blacks more than anything else he could do.

Even suggesting what seems obvious to any Americans paying attention to the last three years in politics is causing HOW DARE HE fainting spells and heart attack kabuki across the right this morning.  Granted, Obama would be made out to have been a monster if he was black, brown, white, green, or purple, but the President's race is absolutely a factor, especially among the Birther crowd.

And the Republican party is embracing that wholeheartedly as evidenced by Mike Huckabee this week, serving up heaping piles of red meat to Republicans (and heaping piles of bullpucky to everyone else) saying the President "growing up in Kenya" gave him an "anti-colonial" and "anti-American" viewpoint.  It's not hard hearing the dog whistle of racial politics when they are being delivered with a megaphone.

And how quickly we've forgotten the overt racism while looking to justify the more subtle examples.  And of course, if you point that out, you're the racist.  Just as it was in 2009 and 2010, expect "the only racist here is Obama" to continue to be the centerpiece of the winger "argument" against him.

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