Boy, Oh, Boy

Maureen Dowd, New York Times, September 13, 2009

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Surrounded by middle-aged white guys–a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club–Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.

But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!

{snip}

{snip} Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber.

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But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president–no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq–convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.

{snip}


Eight months into Barack Obama’s presidency, as criticism of his administration seems to reach new levels of volume and intensity each week, the whispers among some of his allies are growing louder: That those who loathe the nation’s first African-American president, and especially those who would deny his citizenship, are driven at least in part by racism.

It’s a feeling that’s acutely felt among those supporters of Obama who are themselves minorities. {snip}

“As far as African-Americans are concerned, we think most of it is,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), when asked in an interview in between sessions how much of the more extreme anger at Obama is based upon his race. “And we think it’s very unfortunate. We as African-American people of course are very sensitive to it.”

{snip}

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, agreed with his colleague that elements of the opposition can’t accept the reality of a black president.

{snip}

Virginia Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine used a speech Friday to single out those conservative critics whose hostility toward President Obama goes deeper than just opposing his policies–but without mentioning that which many in his party believe drives the anger.

{snip}

He demurred when asked later whether this often-personal criticism is rooted in contempt for a president who happens to be black.

Other Democrats, not as constrained by the office they hold, are more outspoken about what they see as the racism aimed at Obama.

“We think all of it is!” exclaimed Gwen Dawkins, a Democratic activist from Michigan and retired state employee when asked to what degree the fervent opposition to Obama was driven by his skin color.

{snip}

Donna Brazile, a longtime Democratic strategist and a DNC vice-chair declined to, as she put it, “put all the president’s opponents in a box,” with regard to their motivation. But she said more and more average African-Americans are approaching her with grave worries about Obama.

“They’re worried sick about his safety,” Brazile said. “When they see some of these statements, the guns at his rallies, some of the hate talk on TV and radio, there’s a natural tendency because of the wounds that built up for centuries without being addressed to worry. It’s a natural concern for them to worry.”

{snip}

Republicans see an important distinction between Obama critics who are genuinely worried about his tax, spending and national security policies and those whose fears go beyond the president’s liberalism.

But for some Democrats, it’s difficult to make that distinction when conservative marchers take to Washington bearing images of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Obama that read, “He had a dream, we got a nightmare,” and when a Southern congressman shouts at Obama while he addresses Congress in a demonstration of disrespect never seen when a white president spoke in that hallowed hall.

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