The right wing monster that wants to destroy Obama’s presidency just because it exists – a report from America
“We’re choosing unity over division and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America…We are not a collection of blue states and red states, we are the United States.”
Dream on, Mr. President. This is Obama as he wants to be; the unifier, the healer, a latter day Washington, transcending partisanship, geography, race and class. But this Obama cannot and will never be – not while there exists in America a significant but powerful minority that is determined to utterly destroy his presidency, just because it exists.
This right-wing media monster haunts modern American politics. It’s a monster with regard for neither right nor reason nor truth, a monster that makes serious political conversation impossible and that feeds on the fears of Americans who scream openly that they ‘want their America back’. It knows not what it believes in, but knows what it opposes, and that is all encapsulated in Obama.
The monster goes way beyond healthcare, quite beyond policy and philosophy and entirely beyond party. Many Americans, of course, quite legitimately oppose the President out of genuine political differences, but maintain their respect for him and the office he holds. The others simply hold him in contempt. They are afraid, afraid of precisely the thing that excites his own liberal base: that this president is the first truly liberal chief executive since FDR, and represents the biggest threat to the cosy conservative hegemony that has for so longed ruled the American roost.
The fact that he is black adds fuel to the fire, and provides an opening that the Fox news demagogues exploit mercilessly. They exploit the fear that the older, whiter, more right wing America has seen its day; that they know, as all must know, that they are behind the curve of history and Obama is the future. And they’re afraid.
Consequently, the right wing media and radio talk show hosts peddle the politics of that fear, playing on their audience’s most base instincts with a relentless, sustained campaign of lies and misinformation. They cannot accept that somehow the Democrats won so conclusively in November, that somehow, just somehow, they might not speak for the average Joe on Main St. anymore. Worse, the man who seems to do so is black. Worse still, he’s a black liberal (or maybe a socialist, or communist, or was that fascist?) and he’s taking your America from you. You, they say, must stop him, whatever the cost.
Working in a Congressional office, as I’ve been lucky enough to do over the last few months, has given me a ringside seat on the young Obama presidency, and his first meaningful stab at bringing about the ‘change’ on which he ran. Over that time, I’ve seen a rabid and feckless right wing media mutilate and distort a healthcare bill that has the potential to help tens of millions of Americans and I’ve learned that meaningful political discourse in America has become nigh-on impossible with a media machine virtually intent on destroying the Obama presidency.
A line constantly trotted out by Fox News is that the President and his allies are blinded by ideology. The irony of such a statement would be literally hilarious if it were not so utterly depressing. The likes of Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck (Fox’s pin-up of the month, famous for gems like the one below) in fact possess an ideology that goes beyond conservatism: it’s nothing more than a crass anti-Obamaism.
So blinded are they by the fear that this President poses to their agenda that they hold little to no regard for the truth, clearly believing that a little (or a lot of) mendacity is a price worth paying if it damages the President.
The truth becomes whatever most suits their message; that Obama wants to destroy your America. That he wants to take away your freedom, your money, even your Grandma.
This opposition to all Obama, great and small, is not discriminate and goes beyond anything any previous President has ever had to endure. It manifests itself in whatever the President does and every move he makes: healthcare, the Stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, Justice Sotomayor, Afghanistan and heaven help Obama if he wants to try and talk to the kids. When Obama had the audacity to try and speak to America’s school children about getting decent grades, Fox News and top Republican law-makers urged families to take their kids out of school lest they be brainwashed by the President’s ‘socialism’. Of course, no-one uttered so much as a peep when George W.Bush addressed schoolchildren in 2001, but of course, he was a Republican. He couldn’t possibly have been trying to brainwash children.
And Bush never had to put up with ‘Birthers’, either. Anyone who denies that the criticism directed at Obama does not possess a racial element need only look at this absurd ‘birther movement’, an idea seriously reported on and even encouraged by various media outlets, including CNN.
So toxic have some attacks on Obama become that so-called ‘patriots’ refuse to even accept their President’s own legitimacy as Commander-in-Chief by questioning his very birthplace. Obama was, of course, born in Hawaii, but it’s interesting to consider whether any such movement would have existed if John McCain had been elected. McCain was born at Coco Solo Naval Station in Panama, but of course, had McCain won, no such issue would ever have come about; I mean, come on, just look at McCain, he’s white! Of course he’s an American, silly.
Worst of all; all of this isn’t even confined to the fringes or the worst elements of the media. Republican lawmakers constantly pander to this contemptuous drivel.
Sarah Palin scared millions with her irresponsible talk of death panels, a Congressman advocated domestic terrorism and Rep. Joe Wilson thought nothing of shouting ‘You Lie’ at his Commander-in-Chief at a Joint-Session of Congress. Even Bush never had to endure anything like this.
‘Death panels’, Birthers, taking guns to presidential rallies, calling for the Confederate flag to be lifted on Southern federal buildings and a blind devotion to the Fox News agenda, these are the hallmarks of much of the Grand Old Party today. When traditional Republicans, like Senator Olympia Snowe, speak out against this agenda of destruction and try and work constructively with the president, she gets called out for being a DINO (Democrat In All But Name). Lincoln must be spinning in his grave.
To call these people ‘conservatives’ does a disservice to the American conservatives of old. These people are the radicals and they are the monster of modern American politics. President Carter was right when he spoke of a racial element to some of Obama’s opposition. It has been fused with a refusal by some on the American right to acknowledge any liberal’s right to be President.
Anyone who honestly spoke of a post-racial America was always living in cloud cuckoo land, but what could perhaps not have been anticipated is the extent to which some have so brazenly questioned the President’s legitimacy. No-one talked of ‘Taking Back America’ in Clinton’s time, nor in Carter’s. It is for this President, this liberal black President, that that particular honour is reserved. It is to those people that propagate all this garbage and despicable misinformation that John Dean (former Nixon White House staffer) referred when he spoke of ‘conservatives without conscience’, and it is for these people that all Americans should hold outright contempt.