Shocking isn’t it? Barack Obama is running for no office, has no expressed political ambitions, and likely will never be a candidate again. But, you would not know it from those who have attacked him personally, often unfairly, and in some cases with unrelenting scorn.
The common allegations claim he is a Communist (and turning our country into a Socialist) state…was not born an American citizen and is an illegitimate President (yes those guys are still out there)…is a closet Muslim (but still under the influence of Pastor Wright)… that he is an agent of the Anti-Christ … and there is even a tiny “impeach” contingent that works tirelessly on their fruitless agenda. Nary a day goes by when Fox News does not attack Obama with attempts to attach any and all miscues of government directly to the White House regardless how tenuous. Witness Benghazi, the IRS scandal, whatever. Then there are the incredulous attacks at the CPAC gathering. The latest salvo by opponents is that Obama is running an “imperial” presidency and governing the country by fiat (citing his recent use and threats of use to institute more Executive Orders).
The charge of imperial presidency and use of Executive Orders is truly ironic, because Obama has used this technique far less than all of his most recent predecessors. Reagan issued 381; Clinton 364; and G.W. Bush 297 including 118 in his second term. Obama so far has a total of 168, including a measly 21 thus far in his second term. Of course, the facts do not matter to that crowd.
Interestingly, this vitriol started almost immediately upon his election — recall Mitch McConnell’s comment that the job of him and his conservative associates in Congress was to assure that Obama did not have a second term (silly me, I thought his job as a high elected official was to create legislation to make the country better). Moreover, Obama, and Michelle, have been the target of some nasty and mostly apocryphal allegations as well as stunning disrespect.
Considering the fact that Obama is a lame duck second-term president, the whole phenomena of the vitriol towards him is both odd and worthy of analysis. I have considered this carefully, and indeed have written about this before. Now, after further contemplation, I have no other conclusion except to play the race card. But, not the traditional one, the one that opponents hate Obama because he is black (at least partially black). It is because he is not white. If this seems to be parsing words, it is not. The difference is, overt discrimination is not any longer socially acceptable, but more importantly, Obama is a metaphor for the changing color in America. And it is scary — really scary — to a hard core group of conservative whites who see our WASP and Western European heritage slipping away. They are engaged in a desperate effort to “take our country back.”
This contention also goes to the heart of the current immigration debate. There has always been opposition to the import of certain groups to our country. Asians faced discrimination and quotas for decades. The Eastern Europeans of the early 20th Century faced similar discrimination — although they likely ended up bring more culture to America than any other group. But while the Jews, Italians, Irish, Poles, Russians, etc. in that group were not liked…they were white. Immigration today is focused on mostly non-white groups. And to the horror of those opposed to seeing them join our society, we actually have a black president. A black president! OMG, what’s next?
I will tell you what’s next, an America in which whites are the minority. And that could happen before mid century. And Obama is merely a metaphor for this event — and event that is seen as cataclysmic to Obama haters. In some odd way, they see damaging Obama as some sort of defense against what is now almost surely an inevitable happening.
What is lost in their concerns and actions is the fact that America has changed continually for two centuries, with greater diversity, richer culture, and an infusion of talent. Attacks on Obama’s policies are fair game and an essential part of our democratic process. I have had issues with them myself. However, the scurrilous attacks on Obama (and Michelle) personally are over the top, unwarranted, and damaging to the country these super patriots claim to be protecting. That’s because they damage the office — and office and its traditions of respect do not belong to them, but belongs to America.
Finally, as ugly as some of these attacks are, they are frankly quite useless, because as much as they want to, their actions will not change the future or the history of our country. America has faced similar with an infusion of new and varied ethnic groups, and we have overcome and flourished. Obama will finish his term, and his administration will be judged not by those who vilify him, but by history.