If you had to come up with a word to describe Barack Obama, "angry" probably wouldn't be the first one to mind. In fact, Obama is preternaturally cool, never too hot, never too cold. People inside his 2008 campaign called him "no drama Obama" for his ability to stay the course amid the chaos.
But there is a group of people who believes Obama is an angry guy. And what's motivating this anger? His hatred of white people. This is a story you've heard before (the most ridiculous of all the anti-Obama books is called The Roots Of Obama's Rage). I bring this up as a reminder that this is something that conservatives get told nearly every day: Obama's fury at the white man is what motivates nearly everything he does. It's good to remember, when you're wondering about the odd persistence of things like the myth that he was born in Kenya. It isn't just occasional weirdness like Mike Huckabee saying that Obama's "perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours." It's a constant drumbeat. Here's Rush Limbaugh from last week:
When Obama makes a case for the importance of the social safety net by noting that his mother needed food stamps at times, Limbaugh explains that Obama is actually expressing his resentment at hardworking white people. "Why harbor resentment?" Limbaugh asks. "Why not thank the people whose taxes made possible the Social Security and the Medicare and food stamps and whatever else [Obama's family] accessed?" What an ungrateful punk -- he had the temerity to take food stamps and now argue that they helped him, rather than insist that black people ought to eschew any further government assistance and pull themselves up by their ample bootstraps. Here's the important part:
What is obvious to me is that this guy harbors a deep resentment about all this rather than an appreciation, and this chip on his shoulder, which got a lot more on it than just this story, there's a racial component as you know, and other elements. Now he sees a need to get even with this country, or this country needs to be gotten even with itself.
When Limbaugh says Obama's resentment is about race "as you know," his audience certainly does know, because they've heard it hundreds of times. I think most liberals are unaware that this message gets pounded home to white conservatives day after day and has been since 2008. This is how something like health-care reform can be fit so seamlessly into the culture war: It's big government, and that can only mean taking money from hardworking white people and giving it to undeserving, shiftless black people. That's why Limbaugh so often refers to health-care reform as "reparations" -- Obama, angry black man that he is, enacted it to stick it to white people in vengeance for slavery and discrimination.
Liberals look at Obama and see someone who is overly conciliatory, forever reaching out to opponents who despise him and giving up more than he should. But we shouldn't forget that a substantial portion of the population is constantly steeped in this racial poison. Nothing the president or anyone else says or does will change that.
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