There are a lot of things Republicans don't like about Barack Obama. So why is it that they can't let go of the "community organizer" thing? I raise this because Louisiana Sen. David Vitter proclaimed the other day at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, "I'll take a TV personality over a community organizer any day." Presumably, he meant that he likes Sarah Palin more than Obama. But as Steve Benen points out, he won't be taking a TV personality over a community organizer, he'll be taking a TV personality over a sitting president, who happened to work as a community organizer when he was in his 20s.
Conservative Republicans like Vitter seem to believe that having once been a community organizer is a sin that Obama should never be able to escape (kind of like Vitter's patronage of the prostitution industry, say). But community organizing is something Obama did after college. As a point of comparison, after she finished college, Sarah Palin was a sports reporter at a small-market local television station. Think about how odd it would be if a Democrat got up and said, "The world is not a small-market local television station, and it doesn't just need a sports reporter!" Yet in her convention speech in 2008, Palin said, "This world of threats and dangers is not just a community, and it doesn't just need an organizer!"
I know conservatives will call me unfair for saying this, but the racial subtext is pretty clear. When they say "community organizer," they mean "guy who works to help black people get more power and influence, probably at the expense of white people." Otherwise, it just doesn't sound like something sinister and worthy of ridicule.
-- Paul Waldman
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