Wednesday, September 16, 2009

History's Greatest Monster is Wrong

Ok, I don't actually have a problem with Jimmy Carter, but I definitely think he was wrong to suggest that Joe Wilson's "You Lie" comment was at all rooted in racism. In fact, I don't think the opposition to Obama is race-based. Because I remember the 90's and these people were just as crazy about Clinton. He was a mass murdering Soviet spy, they told us. They investigated every damn thing he did, including his Christmas card list. They f-ing impeached him, for christ's sake!

And let's not forget that they still hate Carter, and Mondale, and Dukakis, and Kerry. Please, show me the prominent Democrat they don't hate. One of the oddest bits of modern politics is how Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are demonized by both the right and left. The right says they're leftwing extremists while the left insists that they're weak-kneed conservative sell-outs; and both sides say this because Pelosi and Reid are obstructing their agenda.

And who amongst us can forget how much they hated Ted Kennedy? It's not even just that they disagreed with Kennedy; the very mention of his name drove conservatives bonkers. Back when Yahoo had messageboards, any story which remotely involved Kennedy would be avalanched with attacks on him as a slobbering drunk and remorseless murderer. It was absolutely impossible to discuss the actual news story because any defense of Kennedy would bring multiple accusations of defending drunken murderers; and I'm not exaggerating in the least.

Hating All Liberals

As the great Michael Bérubé once snarked:
“Everything changed for me on September 11. I used to consider myself a Democrat, but thanks to 9/11, I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick."
It's funny, because it's true. Being conservative isn't really about believing in fiscal restraint or small government; it's about hating liberals, including any Democrat who doesn't worship conservatives. And so I fail to see how this is any different when it comes to Obama. And if there is anything different, it's not his race that outrages them, but that he just keeps on kicking their butts in a cold-assed fashion.

As a reminder, the "small government" meme was originally a codeword for opposing liberal policies that helped minorities. But soon enough, it simply became a slogan to attack liberals and that's what it remains to this day. That's why conservatives found it so easy to pivot towards big intrusive government during the Bush years; because that government was being used to help their team. And all the purist Ron Paul conservatives who denounced that were just naive simpletons who bought into rhetoric that had no basis in reality.

Keyes for President

And on the other hand, I have no doubt that Republicans would elect Alan Keyes as president, if they could. Or Michael Steele. Hell, I bet they'd elect an Islamic lesbian from Kenya as president, if they felt assured the person would rain hellfire on liberals. Remember, they were all outraged by Clinton the Draft Dodger, until they elected a draft dodger of their own. After that, it became a non-issue.

Because when you get down to it, racism is just part of their team warfare. It's about exclusionism and exceptionalism and everything else that assures conservatives that they're number one and everyone else sucks eggs. They've all got giant inferiority complexes because the world isn't begging them to be Number One Commander Extreme. It's not enough for them to win elections, they've got to have complete subservience or they just can't be happy.

And overall, I think the whole "Obama haters are racist" thing is simply a distraction. It's the sort of attack that conservatives relish, as they view it as a typical unfair attack and helps distract from the fact that they're wrong about everything and live in a fact-free bubble. They'd much rather play Who's the Bigot than to discuss any policy issues.

Team-Based Racism

Besides, not only are not all Obama haters racist, but even the racists aren't really racists anymore. They don't hate blacks. They just hate blacks that are on the wrong team. But they hate everyone who's on the wrong team, regardless of race, creed, or color. Seriously, where is the racist who hates Michael Steele more than they hate Nancy Pelosi? I doubt you'll find one.

That's not to suggest that racism isn't real, as I know it is. But it's merely to say that, at it's core, racism isn't really about race. It's about hating someone for being on the wrong team. And even your hardcore blatant racists all know some "clean" negro who they respect, and wish the rest of them could be like that one. And sure, they say racist things when their target is a minority, but they say sexist things when their target is a woman, and again, there isn't a prominent Democratic white male who gets a free pass from offensive attacks. They hate us all! Racism is a by-product of their attacks; not the source of it.

Dave Chappelle had a skit about a blind black white supremacist (Warning: Not work friendly) who didn't realize he was black, and it implied that such a person wouldn't be accepted in racist culture. But I honestly don't think he'd have a problem, as many racists would find such a person to be the best spokesman for racism; for the same reason that some conservatives think it helps to cite black conservatives as their source for anti-Obama attacks. These people will accept anyone, just as long as they're on the team and tell them that they're the best.

And if Obama came out and announced that he had a change of heart, was switching to Republican, and was locking all the liberals up in Gitmo, you can rest assured that all this Obama derangement would end just as soon as the waterboarding of Pelosi began.


Scott P said...

I agree with you to a point -- racism is not the end-all be-all reason for the animosity towards Obama, but I think it's an important part. It's part of what you call "hating everyone who's on the wrong team". The one consistant message coming from the right the past year is "He's not like you, he doesn't think like you, you can't trust him".

They're trying to differentiate him from their audience, and lucky for them, probably the easiest way to differentiate people in this country is by skin color. So I don't think racism is the end goal (although it plays upon very real existing fears), but it is a very good vehicle for the message. If some of the audience automatically dislikes him because he's black, so much the better.

Scott P said...

One other point I'd make about why now is different than when Clinton, Carter, or Mondale was the target of unfocused right wing hate, is the change in the GOP. Recently, the GOP and the "audience" I mentioned in my other comment has become increasingly white, Southern, and rural. I daresay that all three of those groups are more likely to respond to race-baiting, no matter how subtle it is.

Just my thoughts, and kudos on a very interesting place here.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Scott - But this doesn't really seem different than with Clinton. They seem every bit as crazy as I remember them last time. I wrote a blogpost about this and saw how their first investigation of Clinton began in July 1993. By that standard, Obama's doing pretty damn well, as he's already made it all they way to September without any horrible scandals.

As for race baiting, why would it be necessary? They've been hating on Obama since he took the lead in the Dem primary last year. They didn't need to be baited. And they'd be hating Hillary just as much (or more) if she had won.

If you're interested, here's my follow-up post:
They Impeached President Clinton