It's a timeless political aphorism, dating back generations to the inception of our republic: Thou shalt not mock Barack Obama, racist. A Missouri rodeo clown -- whose routine touched off one of the dumbest national firestorms in recent memory and who was dismissed by his employer for violating this sacred American compact -- and has at last broken his silence. More than anything else, Tuffy Gessling seems befuddled (via Ed Morrissey, click through for video):
Gessling's antics drew angry rebukes from politicians, a lifetime ban from the Missouri State Fair and more personal hits than he ever faced in the ring. "I've had one lady spit in my face - called me a dirty name, spit in my face and walked off," Gessling said. And he says there have been five death threats. "I've had somebody threaten to run me over. One of them wanted to burn the house down," he said. Gessling says that hate is actually what finally brought him out to speak. "I didn't do this to do any hating on anyone. I did this to be funny. I did it to be a joke," Gessling said.
That's right, this performer has been threatened with death by several Lords of Tolerance for committing the capital offense of treating President Obama...the way he's treated all of Obama's predecessors. What unimaginable gall. Isn't he aware that The One is special? Gessling concludes that Americans have forgotten how to laugh:
Another clown wore an Obama mask while Gessling made questionable comments, including saying, "We're gonna stomp Obama" and other comments that some took to mean suggesting physical threats. But the clown says it was all in good fun as has been done with other presidents...Gessling said the clown act has been around for generations."I didn't think anything more of it than what we've done 15 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, when we've done it with Bush, Clinton and Ronald Reagan," Gessling said..."I actually think that a lot of people have lost their ability to laugh," Gessling said. "Look at the country as a whole, there is a lot more to be mad at than a rodeo clown at a rodeo trying to make somebody laugh."
So Obama was treated no differently than the white presidents who served before him, as might be the case in, say, a predominantly post-racial, 'colorblind' society. Sure, it's reasonable to ask whether a white performer donning a mask depicting a black person was an exercise in poor judgment. And perhaps the clowns -- I repeat, clowns -- should have been more sensitive to the imagery involved. But the fury unleashed by this story was and is preposterous. In response to follow-up queries about the racial and political implications of his clown act, Gessling's reply was perfect:
"I never did anything because of anybody's race. I don't care what color somebody is. If they're blue, white, green, polka dotted, striped ... it doesn't bother me one bit," Gessling said. He adds it was not about politics either. When asked if he was a Democrat or a Republican, Gessling simply replied, "I am a rodeo clown."
Sometimes it just isn't about race, a reality that some on the Left are unwilling to accept. This utterly humorous contingent sees racism around every corner, implicit in every policy disagreement, and lurking in every criticism. As liberal politicians and commentators fixate on the racially-motivated loathing that supposedly drives a significant segment of opposition to President Obama, I'll leave you with a few reminders of how Democrats and leftists perceived and treated President Bush. Were those indignities fueled by some form of racial bigotry (including, in many cases, self-loathing), or is it possible -- just maybe -- that liberals tend to rhetorically beat up on conservative presidents, and vice versa?