Jimmy Carter is Right.

datePosted on 23:42, September 17th, 2009 by Pablo

A furore has erupted in the US because former president Jimmy Carter has publicly stated the obvious: many of the people in opposition to health care reform, as well as the so-called astroturf “tea party” and “birther” movements (the latter claiming that Barak Obama is not a natural born US citizen and thus constitutionally ineligible to be president), are less in opposition to Obama’s policies than they are to the color of his skin. Even though he is half-white, they are fixated on his blackness, and in posters, cartoons, internet videos and photomontages he is depicted as an ape, and Arab, a terrorist, a commie or a socialist, and–as Sarah Palin so eloquently expressed it–”not one of us.” The “us” in question is presumably white and conservative, but what they really are is racist.  As Carter said, some people cannot abide by the thought that a Negro is running the show.

Normally one could ignore the crackers and their banjo-strumming Deliverance views. They are, after all, evidence of the death throes of white majority America, which in 25 years will see a non-white (mostly Hispanic) majority and more people of color in positions of national authority. But in this instance these retrograde views are instigated and supported by a disloyal elite who share their perspective, and who have significant clout in politics and the US media. Forget the mental midget that is Joe Wilson, Republican representative from South Carolina and apologist for the Confederacy, who last week shouted “you lie!” in the middle of the president’s speech on health reform to a joint session of Congress. The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd was correct in noting that the only thing missing from his outburst was the qualifier “boy” at the end.  No president before Obama was interrupted in such a fashion during a major address, to include George W. Bush when he bald-faced lied to Congress and the US public that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was imminently disposed to use them (thereby setting into motion a chain of events that cost thousands of lives and trillions of squandered dollars in pursuit of what ultimately will wind up looking a lot like the Baath Party regime with a Shiia twist–if Iraq is so lucky). I will not even mention W’s defense of coercive interrogations during his last State of the Union address, but the point is that people who knew better still sat on their hands and shut their mouths. It may have been cowardly, but it was also a measure of Congressional protocol dating back 200 years.

So why the breach in this instance, over a remark that even if debatable was relatively innocuous? What is the single difference between Obama and all his predecessors that would embolden a small-town politician to openly question his integrity before Congress and the country at large (BTW–one of the things that is expressly prohibited under the rules of order in Congressional debates is calling people “liars.”) Why have so many right wing media types jumped to Rep. Wilson’s defense and why are people now sending him campaign contributions from all over the US?

Rep. Wilson is of no consequence and there is little danger in his simple breach of Congressional protocol (a Kanye moment of the political sort, if you will). The real danger is in the subtext of racial animus propagated by the likes of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the Christian nutters such as the Phoenix-based Baptist minister who exhorts his congregation to pray for Obama’s assassination, and the other corporate and religious bigots who run the astroturf campaigns against the President’s agenda (“astroturf” refers to the fact that these supposedly grassroots movements are artificially created by  well-funded special interest lobbies using targeted advertising rather than originating from genuine popular discontent). It is these heavily bankrolled conspirators–and they are exactly that–who are the danger. That danger could well turn out to be mortal.

I have written before that the US Right is implicitly setting up a scenario for an attempt on the president’s life. They provide the ideological and rhetorical fuel via their media proxies, and with that stimulus some whacko pulls the trigger or detonates the bomb. It will not be a Muslim fanatic, but a white loser or group of losers holding a racial grudge. The US already has seen evidence of this in the Oklahoma City bombing and repeated white supremacist plots  and attacks (including an assassination plot against Obama during last year’s presidential campaign).  That is why Jimmy Carter needs to be listened to: not all opposition to the President is racist, but a significant portion of the minority that opposes his agenda are playing the man for his color, not the content of his policy. The trouble is that racism is also  the elephant in the room that no one wants to openly confront in this “post racial” era. Until that happens, the descent towards violence is almost inevitable, with implications that are unimaginably bad.

In fact, it can be argued that it will not be a foreign foe that will ultimately defeat the US and reduce it to a fallen empire: it could well be devoured from within, with racism the food for that self-consuming hunger.

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43 Responses to “Jimmy Carter is Right.”

  1. Ag on September 18th, 2009 at 05:33

    Excellent article.

    I have written before that the US Right is implicitly setting up a scenario for an attempt on the president’s life.

    What’s worse is that this isn’t simple anger, but part of a calculated strategy. They think, and I wish I was sure that they were wrong, that if an attempt is made on Obama’s life, or he is killed, that liberal America will do nothing in response other than finding and convicting the perpetrators. It will just make liberal America look even weaker, as they roll over in the face of right wing aggression yet again.

    The Glenn Becks of this world think that they can incite violence with a nod and a wink and never be held accountable. I can’t see how the government can hold them accountable in any case.

    I’m glad I don’t live in that insane country.

  2. jcuknz on September 18th, 2009 at 07:57

    I’m glad I don’t live in that insane country.

    Me too when I see how the health debate is dragging on, and sadly there are people cheering on in New Zealand too.

  3. Lew on September 18th, 2009 at 08:28

    Jimmy Carter is right, and Obama is also right for refusing to be made a victim. The reality is there for who have eyes to see, but rising above it all is the best way to tackle the issue.

    L

  4. Ruth on September 18th, 2009 at 08:51

    Excellent post.

    It’s getting bad out there – I just read about a black woman army reservist who was beaten by a white man while he hurled racist slurs at her. The worst part is that people apparently stood by and watched. And the leader of the idiotic Tea Bag movement, Andrew Brietbart, called the president an “Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug” on *national television*.

    These bellicose wingnuts on the fringes are being emboldened by hateful, militantly ignorant blogs, too. I thought they were all going to ‘go Galt’…unfortunately they’re still here.

  5. Eddie Clark on September 18th, 2009 at 09:56

    Stealing this link from Danielle’s comment on PA:

    http://www.mrdestructo.com/2009/09/white-americas-inconvenience-tantrum.html

    What is the cause of this except a genuine inability to engage with reality… and, with a significant portion, out and out racial hatred?

    This is not sane.

  6. Tom Semmens on September 18th, 2009 at 09:58

    I’ve never been to the USA so I find it difficult to fathom what is going on in their heads, but I’ve read a lot of US history and my take what we are seeing is an attempt to re-litigate the outcome of the civil war. Jimmy Carter is a Southern Democrat and he can sense the ghost of Jefferson Davis. After all, isn’t a negro president the fufillment of every prophecy Nathan Bedford Forrest ever made?

    The historical movement of much of the military-industrial complex to the South (at least partially to put it out of the range of early Soviet ICBM’s) in the 1950′s and 60′s has reinvigorated the Confederacy and its attendant agenda of white supremacy, states rights, God and guns.

    To that extent, the fall of the United States might be all come down to the invention of air conditioning.

  7. Quoth the Raven on September 18th, 2009 at 10:57

    I have no doubt that there is an awful lot of racism around this hullabaloo in America, but you certainly don’t help your case with lines like: Normally one could ignore the crackers and their banjo-strumming Deliverance views.

    One should also note as I pointed out at Red Alert the increasing number of people on the left dissillusioned with this president and for good reason.

    Two things I note with Obama of late. First brilliant decision not to build those missile bases. Second, the one I was waiting a test to see if I had been too hard on Obama and it was a fail from him, the decision to extend the trade embargo against Cuba. Despicable.

    Here’s something about fixing healthcare that doesn’t involve capturing markets for big insurance companies like Obama’s. It’s something I expect Obama as beholden to corproate America as he is would never consider.

  8. ak on September 18th, 2009 at 11:06

    …but rising above it all is the best way to tackle the issue.

    Dunno about that Lew. As one of the generation raised on war comics and utterly befuddled as to how a proud and cultured nation could embrace Adolf, an equal bufuddlement accompanied the observation that so many Jews decided to “rise above it all” all the way to the gas chamber doors.

    We can shake our heads from afar, but prior to the election there were comments on our most popular political blog calling for our PM’s death – one at least even seriously suggesting “justifiable” assassination.

    Ignoring such filth merely enables its creators and allows a dangerous “halo effect” into the mainstream discourse: which in turn emboldens editorialists and tin-pot hatemongers of every which hue – from Berlin to Orewa, Waco to Whanganui.

    Appeasement worked as well for Hels as it did for Neville: yielding on the foreshore brought Key in our time. Rise above evil by all means – by crushing its ugly shoots underfoot before they take root. Obama supporters should now be mounting the mother of all defamation suits. As should have Labour in 2007.

  9. Leopold on September 18th, 2009 at 11:43

    “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with Blood.”
    John Brown, before his execution, 1859

  10. Quoth the Raven on September 18th, 2009 at 11:53

    I think Lew is right rising above it is the best thing. Obama’s reaction to Jimmy Carter’s comments has been good. It’s good to see the reaction from many Democrats and African Americans in the US is similar in agreeing that Carter’s comments were unhelpful.

  11. Lew on September 18th, 2009 at 13:37

    I should perhaps clarify my statement: I think Carter is both right, and right to say so. This sort of comment is part of an important role played by former presidents and other such senior political figures. They can act on their own autonomy and make a society (or the world) sit up and take notice without necessarily casting undue reflection on current politicians who for a range of reasons could not say such things.

    In effect, my point is that Carter is right to say what half the world is thinking, and Obama is right to have everyone hear it but to publicly disclaim it so that he can get on with being statesmanlike and chipping away at the prejudice which people can no longer ignore.

    L

  12. Pablo on September 18th, 2009 at 14:03

    I tend to the view that the president must be perceived to be above the fray, but that he needs effective foils to address that which must not be mentioned in this day and age. Carter is one such person, but the counter-attack should be broader and more pointed against those who are orchestrating the hate campaign. Having the ACORN scandal erupt is terrible timing for the president, especially since most of the ACORN people involved in the scandal are of colour, but it is a right wing conflation rather than a sign of any presidential disposition (the connection being Obama’s ties to ACORN while community organizing). But it is exactly this tactic that works best–get people thinking of his ties to criminals and commies, his purportedly dubious roots, his rumored move to outlaw all guns, etc., then mix it all together to claim that he is a black socialist hellbent on destroying the American way of life. As I said in the post, that is a prescription for lethal action.

    Clausewitz noted that war is the continuation of politics by other means. In the US, politics has become war by other means. Yet the Liberal/Left response is more about “the moral high ground” rather than winning. The Democrats and other fair-minded people need to wake up and face the fact that the other side plays dirty and, as any irregular warfare expert will point out, you can only gain symmetry on and defeat irregulars by taking the fight to them on their own terms. Absent the friction of war, in the US that means ideological struggle focused on the heart of darkness that is the Republican battle plan.

  13. WAKE UP on September 18th, 2009 at 16:01

    Carter was wrong then, and he’s wrong now.

  14. Xenobiologista on September 18th, 2009 at 17:20

    I de-friended one of my American fiance’s ultraconservative housemates because on the night of the 2008 US election he wrote as his Facebook status “…wonders who the best assassin in the world is and how to hire him.” I knew the guy was referring to Obama because he had made similar comments in the past. I wish I’d thought of calling him him a wannabe terrorist to his face, that would have pissed him off no end but it’s true because terrorism is the use of unlawful violence for political ends.

  15. Pablo on September 18th, 2009 at 19:32

    WU: That was pithy, but nonsensical.

  16. Ag on September 18th, 2009 at 21:23

    I think Lew is right rising above it is the best thing. Obama’s reaction to Jimmy Carter’s comments has been good. It’s good to see the reaction from many Democrats and African Americans in the US is similar in agreeing that Carter’s comments were unhelpful.

    Rising above it is playing into their hands. The Republican strategy over the past decade has been to recast politics as a form of civil war. The enemy are to be given no ground, and any attempt at bipartisanship from the democrats is to be rejected if it is not complete capitulation. Add to that the orchestrated hue and cry whenever a democrat says something the Republicans don’t like and you have it head on.

    Reason doesn’t work on these people because they cannot be reasoned with. They don’t want to compromise or agree, but to force capitulation by any means possible (by force, fraud or whatever). Democrats for the most part see Republicans as political competitors, whereas the consensus among US conservatives is that Liberals are satanists.

    Ignoring it is a sign of weakness, and the Republicans, above all else, want to portray the Democratic party as weak and ineffectual.

  17. SPC on September 18th, 2009 at 22:36

    There is a connection between a re-assertion of an old order (Christian nation identity tradition of which the “southern white establishment” is only a sub-set) and religious faith in coming into an inheritance on earth. The Republican Party, as it currently operates, enables this connection to occur within domestic politics.

    Obama’s challenge to this occurs at a number of levels, as a well educated liberal from the north, as someone of mixed race marriage parentage, as someone of a diverse family (including multi-cultural/religious) upbringing.

    This President offers in his person a challenge to the identity politics of many of those who vote for the political right and a wealthy and established right-wing elite play identity politics to maintain popular support.

    But to baldly claim opposition to Obama is simply a matter of racism is a little simplistic and certainly not helpful to him. It is not the President’s job to become a party to identity war political struggle – but to be a President for all Americans. It is probably not even a Democrat Party cause, but the cause of bi-partisans to confront the cancer eating away at the body politic and nation itself.

  18. Pablo on September 18th, 2009 at 22:51

    SPC: In an otherwise good analysis you make the mistake to claim that I “baldly” made the assertion that the issue is “simply a matter of racism.” That is not what I said. Geez, re-read the post.

    You and QtR suffer from the same syndrome, which is to not confront what I have said is the obvious elephant in the room: racism is alive and well in the US, and it is now squarely focused on this president. It is being fueled by media and political opponents, and it could be lethal. It does not matter if it is not the majority of the opposition to his policy reform project who are racists, it is the increasingly strident minority who are the issue. The evidence is there and clearly evident to anyone who wants to see it for what it is (this said for those who think that Fox is “fair and balanced”). Or do you really believe that the monkey and Arab posters and gun-toting protestors and violent outbursts at town halls are just about health care?

    Contrast the reaction of the American bigots to half-white Obama with the attitude in Brazil, where one drop of white blood allows people to list themselves as white on the census. Although the denigration of African heritage is retrograde, the Brazilians confront the fact that to be white is to be right (or at least upwardly mobile), so they afford as broad a definition of white so as to make that an upward possibility for all. It is not a perfect solution, but it works: even Pele claims that he is “white.”

    You will never hear a Brazilian say that they are a hyphenated-Brazilian (Afro, Nissei or European). Their first answer will simply and always be “Brasileiro.” Can the same can be said within the US? Or is the white/black, Christian/Jew/Muslim, Northern/Southern divide simple evidence that the country is ripping apart at the seams?

  19. Hugh on September 18th, 2009 at 23:02

    Pablo, is the Brazillian situation really so ideal? Is identifying oneself as American first and African, Asian, First Nations or what have you second (if at all) really that desirable? Isn’t ‘I only see an American’ Stephen Colbert’s line?

  20. Pablo on September 18th, 2009 at 23:14

    Hugh:

    It is certainly not ideal, but it is a start. The Brazilians have a state policy to downplay racial differences and promote the “coffee with milk” color policy as the commonality of Brazilians. As I said, it is retrograde in that it denigrates the African heritage in favor of white genes, but it strives to promote a unified national (racial) identity that transcends primordial affiliations.

    Your question also phrases the issue wrongly. In the US, racial or ethnic identification comes before nationality, hence the phrase Afro-American, Asian-American, Irish-American, Arab-American, etc. The more the blood of origin is diluted through inter-marriage and inter-breeding, the more those qualifiers do not matter. But the fact is that at this point in time they still do. I refer to SPC’s comment on some of the reactions that entails.

    This episode also poses a stark reminder of the downside to allowing identity politics to dominate political discourse in a democracy.

  21. SPC on September 18th, 2009 at 23:40

    Pablo, I was making the point that the issue is more than one of race before going on to conclude that I therefore disagree with the comment from Jimmy Carter focusing on the matter of race.

    A more direct response to your own contribution here, is that there is disagreement with his policies too, while I do accept that this disagreement is exacerbated by the identity politics divide – which as I stated is more than a matter of race.

    There is I suppose the issue of whether any religious/political/cultural/sociological divide is exacerbated where racial difference is apparent, but whether that can be simplified down to a matter of racism … . I can accept that for those vulnerable to racism identity politics is inflammatory. So where there is religious/cultural/sociological divide and people play identity politics any racism in that society will be exposed.

  22. Quoth the Raven on September 18th, 2009 at 23:55

    Ag – Your comment and much of social democrat discourse and of course conservative discourse smacks of manichaeism. Your opponents by dint of being your opponents must be evil, stupid, irrational, etc. Which makes your comment quite hypocritical. Of course they can be reasoned with.

  23. Keir on September 19th, 2009 at 00:08

    Ag – Your comment and much of social democrat discourse and of course conservative discourse smacks of manichaeism. Your opponents by dint of being your opponents must be evil, stupid, irrational, etc. Which makes your comment quite hypocritical. Of course they can be reasoned with.

    You can’t reason with Betsy McCaughey; she’s a professional liar out to tell lying lies. You can’t really reason with Megan McArdle because she’s wilfully ignorant. You can’t reason with people who promote the death panels nonsense. There’s no point pretending it is possible; these are not people who respond to reason — or, rather, they are people who are refusing to respond to reason, preferring to live off in a land where Obama really does want to kill granny and there was No Exit to the Clinton plan.

  24. Quoth the Raven on September 19th, 2009 at 00:28

    Keir – Have you met either of them? tried reasoning with them?

    Don’t you people ever find this factionalism labour-national republican-democrat blue-red absurd?

    All I can think to do is quote Douglas Adams.
    “It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see…”

    “You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?”

    “No,” said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, “nothing so simple. Nothing anything like to straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”

    “Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”

    “I did,” said ford. “It is.”

    “So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t the people get rid of the lizards?”

    “It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”

    “You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”

    “Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”

    “But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”

    “Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?”

    “What?”

    “I said,” said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, “have you got any gin?”

    “I’ll look. Tell me about the lizards.”

    Ford shrugged again.

    “Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them,” he said. “They’re completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone’s got to say it.”

  25. Keir on September 19th, 2009 at 02:05

    Keir – Have you met either of them? tried reasoning with them?

    No, but I’ve watched people try. And that’s a crazy high standard of evidence you’re after, so…

    Don’t you people ever find this factionalism labour-national republican-democrat blue-red absurd?

    See, this has no connection to the question: is the Republican leadership essentially a collection of con men and nutters? It’s just a diversion. Betsy McCaughey really did print either lies or incompetence in TNR back in the day; she’s still at it. The death panel stuff really was just lies. Etc, etc.

    And it could be true that factionalism is absurd AND that the Republican Party is led by unreasonable people! There’s no great reason to connect the two.

  26. Ag on September 19th, 2009 at 05:50

    Ag – Your comment and much of social democrat discourse and of course conservative discourse smacks of manichaeism. Your opponents by dint of being your opponents must be evil, stupid, irrational, etc. Which makes your comment quite hypocritical. Of course they can be reasoned with.

    You obviously haven’t tried. They aren’t interested in argument or compromise. This is what American liberals continually fail to grasp. The Republican party has largely abandoned the old form of politics where political differences were just that – political differences. Now they see liberal Americans as traitors and servants of evil.

    It is in no way hypocritical to point this out, because the Democrats aren’t responsible for it. If anything, they have shifted to the right over the years, but the Republican party has become a party of the extreme, authoritarian right.

    We aren’t talking about normal, old-fashioned Eisenhower conservatives here. Those people could be reasoned with, and there are still a few of them hanging on in the Republican party. Olympia Snowe is a good example. John McCain was a bit like this until he had to kowtow to the far right to get nominated.

    The idea that the extreme left in American politics have any influence at all is preposterous. Where they exist they are marginal political figures, whether in the Democratic Party (like Cynthia McKinney) or outside it. But the far right has captured the Republican Party. That’s why McCain had to choose someone like Sarah Palin as a running mate, because the party’s base think he is far too liberal.

    I refuse to acknowledge that this is just six of one and half a dozen of the other. The problem in the US is the capture of the Republican party by the far right. The Democrats are much the same old useless people, so it has nothing to do with them.

  27. Quoth the Raven on September 19th, 2009 at 10:15

    Keir – I agree it’s a crazy high standard of evidence. But nevertheless I have no reason to believe they couldn’t be reasoned with.

    Keir, Ag – My problem probably is that I fail to see any fundamental difference between Republican and Democrat when it comes to policy (because I’m so radical I suppose). Difference yes, but not substantial. As such I find the whole thing absurd. The same with labour and National. I think Prof. Long said it better than I ever could.

    Corporate liberalism functions via a façade of opposition between a purportedly progressive statocracy and a purportedly pro-market plutocracy. The con operates by co-opting potential opponents of the establishment; those who recognise that something’s amiss with the statocratic wing are lured into supporting the plutocratic wing, and vice versa. Whenever the voters grow weary of the plutocracy, they’re offered the alleged alternative of an FDR or JFK; whenever they grow weary of the statocracy, they’re offered the alleged alternative of a Reagan or Thatcher. Perhaps the balance of power shifts slightly toward one side or the other; but the system remains essentially unchanged. (Which explains, for example, why the recent much-trumpeted power shift in Congress has resulted in precious little policy change.)

  28. Hugh on September 19th, 2009 at 10:28

    Pablo, do you really think that most Americans would honestly say “I’m white” before they would say “I’m American”? Given that it’s the American identity, not the white one (or any other one) that determines their formal legal rights, this seems rather out of whack. Obviously I’m aware of the ‘African-American’ phrasing but I don’t think that alone tells us anything – it’s just a relatively trivial language quirk.

    As for Brazil, your point is taken that it could be considered a good thing. However, I’m not sure if that’s the situation because of government policy/promotion of a particular racial ideal. I’m not a huge expert in Brazillian history (to put it mildly) and I realise this is an area you know a fair bit about, but is it not possible that other factors go into the way Brazillians perceive their identity, and that this is not responsive, or at least not highly responsive, to government action?

  29. Pablo on September 19th, 2009 at 13:19

    Hugh:

    No I do not believe that they would, although many of European extraction will say “Irish,” Italian,” “Greek,” “Polish” etc before the American identifier (as well as identify themselves by state, such as what Texans prefer to do). Outside of the US I assume most US citizens refer to themselves as Americans first.

    The point I am making is that while diversity is celebrated in the US, its downside is the perpetuation of racial/ethnic divisions that even if diluted with generational change, remain a prominent feature of the social and political landscape (go to any city and you will find out where the various ethnic neighbourhoods are, many of which go back several generations and are residential rather than commercial in nature; i.e. not like the ubiquitous Chinatowns found in every corner of the earth). Others have noted it better, but the idea is that the US population is not so much a melting pot as it is a buffet–and the servings are getting darker and more “ethnic” by the year. That is what is freaking out the racists.

    Needless to say the Brazilian approach is not perfect, but it strikes me, having lived there at various points starting in my childhood and having studied and written about some aspects of its political life, that the conscious efforts to promote a unified “we” national identity is significantly better than the “us versus them” attitudes displayed by many Americans under the banner of diversity. I see a bit of the latter at play in Australia, BTW.

  30. Keir on September 19th, 2009 at 15:08

    Keir – I agree it’s a crazy high standard of evidence. But nevertheless I have no reason to believe they couldn’t be reasoned with.

    Except for the fact that Besty McCaughey wrote something which basically lied about the Clinton health care reform proposal and is still at it? You know, the whole `no exit’ thing? `Death panels’? Abortion funding?

    I mean, I don’t really care your opinion on the Democrats; they aren’t at issue. The point is about the Republicans.

  31. Phil Sage (sagenz) on September 20th, 2009 at 08:44

    Pablo – It is such a simplistic accusation that the opposition to the healthcare plan is racist. I have thought for a very long time that Colin Powell would have been a fine president. But I remain of the opinion that Barack Obama remains unfit due to his socialist instincts and fundamental lack of experience of executive management. Nevertheless he is a democratically elected president. You trivialise the argument when you conflate those who are opposed to his plans as simply being racists.

    He, more than any other president since Carter is strategically weakening the US. Adding debt upon debt is not sustainable or sensible

  32. jcuknz on September 20th, 2009 at 10:30

    I don’t think that Obama opponants are racists but rather at lot of the opponants are racists with an abject fear and horror of socialism. It is all very sad.

    They are, after all, evidence of the death throes of white majority America, which in 25 years will see a non-white …majority .

    I have thought for some time that this is likely to happen here in NZ and I wonder what the time frame for that is?

  33. Pablo on September 20th, 2009 at 12:51

    Hi Phil.

    I was wondering when you would show up on this thread. I suggest to you, as I did to SPC, that you re-read the post. I did not “conflate those who are opposed to his plans as simply being racists.” I said, echoing Carter’s comments, that there are still some people in the US who cannot abide by the thought of the black president, and that the right-wing media beat up of the president as a socialist, etc., combined with astroturf fear-mongering aimed at the white middle classes, set against this backdrop of ingrained visceral hatred by a clearly evident minority, is a recipe for violence.

    This has nothing to do with Obama’s lack of management experience or his supposed strategic weakening of the US (a claim I flatly reject BTW). Where were these people when Bush 43 turned a 30 billion dollar surplus into a 10+ trillion dollar deficit with his tax cuts for the rich and his reckless war-spending? Where were they when he gutted federal anti-poverty and environmental programs and deregulated the financial markets so that they became the playground of con men and hucksters? Where were they when his lies and the corruption of his cronies was exposed?

    Are they merely stupid in blaming Obama for attempting to fix the problems he inherited from Dubya–fixes that are now starting to show positive results in the form of an economic rebound (even if a corporate sell-out to the same financiers who created the mess)? Are they simply greedy in not wanting to see their disadvantaged fellow citizens enjoy access to decent healthcare (as happens in most of the advanced democratic world)? What sort of Alice in Wonderland world do these people live in, where a criminal Republican administration that has squandered American treasure, lives and reputation is given a pass and a decent guy with an idealistic project is excoriated for things he is and is not (mostly the latter when it comes to his political views, mostly the former when it comes to his color)?

    Or is there something else lurking darkly in the hearts of some of this opposition, something that is apparently unspeakable, verboten, whose continuing reality can never be acknowledged in this supposedly “post-racial” society. A sentiment that has its incarnation in the voices of Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity?

    That Phil, is the question of the day, and it is just honest rather than simplistic to pose it.

  34. reid on September 20th, 2009 at 17:24

    Pablo, everything you say about Dubya was obvious at the time. As his Administration went by, there was a clear consistent pattern and yet somehow, this appalling and obvious slow-mo geopolitical and economic train-wreck that was the 43rd President was never called, at the time it was happening when something could have done, by the MSM.

    I mean, where were they?

  35. Lew on September 20th, 2009 at 17:43

    reid,

    There was plenty of criticism of W. during his term (especially his second). What ‘something’ are you suggesting could or should have been done?

    L

  36. reid on September 20th, 2009 at 18:53

    Given the significant consequences which were predictable at the time, more than what was done, Lew.

    The guy was IMO the worst President ever, and this wasn’t a secret.

    If ever there were a case for someone, if not the MSM then who; to step in and make a call: as-in, spell out the consequences to the public.

    If I could predict what was going to happen then others far better resourced and astute than I could as well. Some of those people are high-up in the MSM. That is my point.

  37. Pablo on September 20th, 2009 at 20:17

    reid:

    My impression is that 9/11 shocked both the media and Congress into stunned silence, and then, as they realised how they were bring duped, they were too cowardly and afraid of retribution (political or otherwise) to speak up until very late in the game. At the same time the right wing mouth foamers were demanding blood wherever they could find it and accusing anyone who questioned that bloodlust or W.’s policies as being unpatriotic and treasonous (they are now saying that of the president himself). So the stage was set for the slow-mo train wreck you describe.

    RB: you will not be allowed to post here until you have something rational and civil to say. Sending propaganda videos along with the invective does not meet that criteria.

  38. reid on September 20th, 2009 at 21:17

    So the stage was set for the slow-mo train wreck you describe.

    Yeh but how can that happen in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?

  39. Pablo on September 20th, 2009 at 21:21

    Perhaps because it no longer is either.

  40. Phil Sage (sagenz) on September 20th, 2009 at 21:54

    Pablo. Lets not turn this into a discussion about the way Bush opponents and Obama opponents characterise their target. Happy to have that discussion some time but that is not my point here and I dont have the time to do so.

    The one redeeming feature of Obama being elected was the potential for him to rise above the divisiveness of Clinton/Bush 43. And playing the race card is precisely the opposite way of going about it. It was Carter that played it and Obama has rightly disputed that.

    The point is that the arguments must be won on their merits alone. They cannot be won on the basis of playing the man and not the ball.

    To use a rugby analogy we always knew we had the upper hand when the other side started punching and playing dirty. It meant they were focused on playing dirty not on playing rugby.

    It is certainly true that there are a large number of racists who are opposed to Obama and the health plan. It is not true that they are racists because they oppose the plan.

    I read and re-read both your and Carter comments. Neither of you explicitly say the latter but it certainly what a number of people immediately thought when the media misreported the comments.

    If there is a conscious decision to try to win the healthcare argument by accusing opponents of being racist that is both flawed and dishonest. I certainly do not accuse you or Carter of that, but it is not beyond those many democrats who view any means as being acceptable.

    I do not know enough about the actual health plans to know either way whether I oppose them.

    Have the argument at some time about whether many people who oppose Obama are racist. Simply don’t choose the time of his major domestic policy change to do so.

    That is conflating two separate issues.

  41. Phil Sage (sagenz) on September 20th, 2009 at 21:58

    If I could predict what was going to happen then others far better resourced and astute than I could as well. Some of those people are high-up in the MSM. That is my point.

    Lew, Reid. Two words that also relate to my Pablo response.

    Dan Rather.

  42. Ag on September 21st, 2009 at 03:26

    Keir, Ag – My problem probably is that I fail to see any fundamental difference between Republican and Democrat when it comes to policy (because I’m so radical I suppose). Difference yes, but not substantial.

    You miss my point. The difference is not primarily a political difference, but a psychological difference.

    Neither the Democrats or Republicans have worthwhile policies, and both are in the pay of interest groups, which tend to warp their policies. The difference between them is that the Democrats act as if the interests of the political institutions as a whole matter as much as their own. That’s one reason that the Democrats attempt to be bipartisan, because they think that bills with cross party support are stronger bills and more likely to play well in the long term.

    There’s also a large degree of dissent among House Democrats, many of whom are quite far to the right of the Obama administration and other leading Democrats (these are the so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats).

    The modern Republican Party is not like this (with a few minor exceptions). It is now an extremely authoritarian institution, where dissent from the party leaders is ruthlessly put down (this used to be Tom DeLay’s job. I don’t know who does it now). Moreover, the Republican Party exhibited a contempt for the norms of congressional behaviour when it was in charge, basically shutting out the Democrats and forcing through whatever radical measures they wanted by whatever means necessary.

    Underlying this is a psychological difference. The Republican Party is now dominated by authoritarian personalities who do not see the Democrats as people with whom they have political differences, but as an evil enemy that is to be crushed by any means necessary. Obama ticks several boxes, since he is liberal, black, educated, cultured, cosmopolitan, and multilateralist. A large number of conservatives genuinely think that he is a Marxist (which is hilarious) and a significant percentage think he is the antichrist.

    The Democrats are bent, but not insane. The Republicans are thoroughly corrupt and manifestly loony to boot. Such people cannot be reasoned with. It’s not a choice between more government intervention in the economy or less, but between a party that is more or less secular and rational, and a party comprised of the deranged and fascistic.

  43. jcuknz on September 21st, 2009 at 08:23

    For those who do not follow the NYT daily headlines you could read these comments on the subject.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/19/opinion/19herbert.html?th&emc=th

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/19/opinion/19blow.html?th&emc=th

    Published today.

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