Approaching the big 50, with 21 years around politics, I’ve never seen such anger and sometimes hate in America’s family as this election cycle.
Why? What’s the fierce opposition to Barack Obama from some…and the affronted, seeming incomprehension from supporters? And the tension and conflict between camps? How can other Americans watch removed, wondering at the intensity? Are some of us blind? Crazy? Others have their heads in the sand?
Books will be written and college courses taught exploring this subject. Here are a few suggested starting points from a sound perspective--mine:
Obama’s unvetted background.
At least since the day candidate Obama deployed a “major address on race” to change the subject from his America-damning pastor of 20 years back to a media swoon about the philosopher-king-heir-to-JFK walking among mortals, it was clear different rules would apply to this One.
Ties that would strangle other American politicians were cordoned off behind yellow media tape: Do Not Cross! Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Tony Rezko, Rod Blagojevich, Jeremiah Wright, the New Party (Socialist revolutionaries) nothing mattered, mostly because it was largely dismissed and embargoed in national media.
To this day, the president’s prior career bears only the title “community organizer” while Mitt Romney’s career as a business turnaround specialist has been racked, drawn, quartered, and tortured beyond recognition.
Americans have heard little about what “organizers” do, and nothing about what the First Organizer actually did. Even the president’s acclaimed autobiography has been revealed as largely invented.
Academic records, professional background and relationships all crouch behind a vague haze, guarded by savage rebuke from media—social as well as big--if critics suggest any of it matters. Except, the record and revelations during four years suggest it all matters; critics’ concerns and predictions were closer to the mark than protectionist deniers’.
People who were wary of his candidacy and now devoutly oppose his policies resent the exceptional treatment. They believe an administration they see as diminishing freedom in the private sector, and promoting government growth and control, validates their questions about his views and experience that never got explored.
They’re angry he was never pressed to explain things like his belief the Warren court wasn’t so radical because it respected the basic limits on federal power the framers set in the Constitution. Or that he wanted to be as historically consequential as Ronald Reagan, but in the opposite direction, of expanding the federal state.
Clashing narratives of the last four years.
Whatever the president’s history, now he has a record. If Americans don’t reject what he’s done for four years, his resume is irrelevant.
But of course, events register in separate realities. “The truth” is a series of competing narratives, and the national media has the largest microphone.
Liberals see a president who stepped into an impossible situation, reversed a slide toward depression, and produced gradual improvement. Critics see something quite different:
Obama accelerated disastrous borrowing and spending ferociously, sucking more capital from the productive economy, blowing up the debt, prolonging hardship, and putting us on a road to Greek tragedy, while smoothly denying it.
He oversaw the weakest, most job-barren recovery since the Great Depression. Unemployment clings to historic levels. A discouraged work-force contracts to levels of decades past. Dependency hits record highs. All this is what conservatives would predict for the policies Obama forced through in the heady, early days, with full control and the super majority his followers never mention now.
Much of it appears to be by design, based on conviction that more redistribution from the productive to the dependent spreads the wealth around and makes society more fair. He wants a larger public sector dispensing more aid to more average Americans.
Too, the near trillion dollar “stimulus” was a treacherous bait and switch. Sold as a lifeline to get business and the economy rolling again, the stimulus was later revealed largely as massive, borrowed infusions to state and local governments, labor unions, and unimaginable wealth transfer to presidential cronies in favored industries, particularly “green” energy.
Whatever the election results or fate of the Republic, there lingers the sickening suspicion some friends of Barack are hundreds of millions richer on our grandchildren’s backs…and only a few of them publicized.
His supporters claim he rescued the auto industry, saving hundreds of thousands of jobs and the upper Midwest. No, actually, he repaid organized labor for its support.
He crushed due process and the rule of law to bail out Labor’s ruinous wages and benefits. He ripped equity from secured creditors, gave it to Labor, and stuck it hard to tax payers for billions. He blocked needed reforms and preserved the status quo at two labor-choked companies, delaying the reckoning that is still coming soon. He mysteriously forced 2,200 community dealerships out of business, something the manufacturers didn’t even ask for.
And he gets glowing press for all of it--that recites “successes” and buries contrary facts.
A protective media that asks few questions about big things.
Presidents don’t get reelected with records and numbers like this. Yet, until the first debate demolished their monopoly on imagery, the media’s general line was it’s crazy to question whether Obama would or should win another term.
The toughest questioning he’s faced in four years were two recent fastballs at Spanish language Univision and the 35 or so minutes Mitt Romney spoke in the first debate.
Conservatives fume that economic conditions—plus any number of scandals—that would have brought permanent electronic bedlam down on any president named Reagan or Bush go barely remarked.
That we aren’t making progress is, in some ways, the least of it. Our nation is being fundamentally changed toward a social democracy. But there’s no fundamental national debate. Big media not only doesn’t ask the fundamental questions, it mocks those who do. Instead, eager scribes focus on the crease in the One’s slacks, the cool of his persona, and the horrid things George Bush allegedly did to us all, and still is doing, apparently.
The dominant matter of race.
Simmering beneath the political debate is a vicious double standard: Critics face the ugliest of charges: “Racist!” It might be deployed any time, in any dispute, on a Facebook thread or by a celebrity on camera.
Meanwhile, supporters plainly feel more strongly partly because of Obama’s exotic persona, his international, cosmopolitan, mixed-race heritage and world-view. They celebrate their ideal leader--almost as perfect as the composite stories and characters in his book. They snarl that opposition is rooted in the ugly vestiges of American original sin, but their approval and defenses are factual, reasoned, and for the national good.
Conservatives who would be thrilled to support leaders like Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, Allen West, Thomas Sowell, or Walter Williams for high office angrily resent activists sneering, and media Bigfeet gravely repeating, that their problem with Barack Obama is his skin color.
They know too, he was never the uniting healer his teleprompter promised. From recently aired demagogic speeches at black conferences, to closing the blatant voter intimidation case against Black Panthers, to jumping on the “stupid” Cambridge police, to inflaming the fast-unraveling Trayvon Martin case, the man’s record, as opposed to tone, smacks more of Jackson/Sharpton agitation than Mandela reconciliation.
But the Bigs never cover him that way. People see and resent the cards don’t come from the top of the deck.
Fundamental transformation behind a cool, stylistic screen.
Ultimately, I believe, the intensity of conservative opposition to Barack Obama is frustration and confusion over how to fight battles that are dishonestly concealed from ordinary Americans, the majority who don’t follow politics closely.
The man and his media supporters absolutely do want to fundamentally transform America. They just don’t want to debate the details openly. Not on CSPAN, anyway, but behind closed doors, pushing it out in 2,000 page installments, with embedded command to grow hundreds of thousands more pages of unaccountable executive law. (When’s the last time you heard a peep about “the unitary executive?”)
They’ve made enormous strides that never could have happened with so little scrutiny under any other president. Better to hide their agenda behind the warm glow of a cultural-historic milestone made flesh, the living symbol of America’s atonement and liberation from its founding flaws.
Who can oppose that? Are you racist?