This line of argument was slightly off-putting when The One first deployed it in 2008 -- but at least back then, the question of whether Americans were prepared to elect the first African-American president with an admittedly "funny name" was very much open. We did. By a healthy margin. But now that he's floundering in the polls, our president appeared to revisit that racial well on The View:
Props to Barbara Walters for chiming in and asking a pertinent question in response to this supposed joke, wondering, "why do you say that now after four years?" Obama misunderstands the query (willfully or otherwise) and crafts his reply as if she'd asked why the race would be close, even after four years of his munificent rule. I think what she was really asking is why he would imply that his ethnicity and unusual name are still significant barriers to his political success. After all, he's already been elected to the highest office in the land. Let's also bear in mind that the last two losing Democratic nominees were both lily white, yet their elections were also "tight." Significantly tighter, in fact, than Obama's 2008 victory. How would our president explain those outcomes? It seems to me that he isn't interested in realistically diagnosing the causes behind his re-election struggles; namely, his failed policies, disappointing outcomes and broken promises. He is interested in making excuses and blaming others, which has become his modus operandi. You may be thinking that I'm over-hyping an off-the-cuff, lighthearted answer and devoting far too much time and thought to it. I suppose that's possible. But we recently learned that he also blamed the Democrats' 2010 drubbing on supposed identity-based smears, a truly delusional claim:
Corn writes that after the midterm elections, Obama told labor leaders in December 2010 that he held Fox partly responsible for him “losing white males…Fed by Fox News, they hear Obama is a Muslim 24/7, and it begins to seep in…The Republicans have been at this for 40 years. They have new resources, but the strategy is old,” Corn recounted Obama as saying.
These two illustrations lead me to several questions for the gallery: (1) Does Obama genuinely believe his skin color and name are significant factors in the 2012 presidential election, or is he just tossing red meat to his base (which vehemently believes racism and bigotry explain much of the opposition to Obama, even though Obama's core opponents were also Kerry opponents, Gore opponents, etc)? (2) Are comments like this the product of an unfortunate intellectual laziness on his part, or is Obama deliberately attempting to delegitimize and stigmatize his opposition by feeding an insidious racial subtext? Jonah Goldberg ruminates on the topic here.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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