“This Is Really About Tearing Obama Down”

Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson

“I think the Republicans have calculated who’s going to vote this November,” Chris Matthews said on Hardball the other night. “….The angry people are going to vote.”

Matthews didn’t say so. But the “angry people” are white folks. Most of them are anyway. Come election day, the Republicans are counting on them big-time.

Matthews has the GOP pegged. But it wasn’t a scoop. To quote the immortal Yogi Berra, “It’s deja vu all over again.”

For close to 50 years, Republicans have been playing the race card. It started with the GOP’s Southern Strategy” of the 1960s. The plan was to exploit white anger over historic civil rights bills passed by a Democratic-majority Congress and championed by a Democratic president (and supported by several moderate and liberal Northern and Western Republicans).

These “white backlash” voters flocked to the GOP; the erstwhile Democratic “Solid South” turned Republican Red. Growing ever conservative, the GOP went on to become the white people’s party and not just in Dixie.

A lot of “white backlash” voters are still around. They hate even the idea of an African American president. The Republicans know it and are campaigning accordingly, with help from the reliably Republican right-wing media. The Shirley Sherrod smear job is their latest fraud.

Meanwhile, President Obama is still tiptoeing around the other side’s race-baiting. Perhaps he thinks it would be too impolitic or too off message to call the hand of these bigots, though they despise him viscerally.

Eugene Robinson did toss down the gauntlet in his Washington Post column. “After the Shirley Sherrod episode, there’s no longer any need to mince words: A cynical right-wing propaganda machine is peddling the poisonous fiction that when African-Americans or other minorities reach positions of power, they seek some kind of revenge against whites,” the Pulitzer Prize winning pundit wrote.

He reloaded and fired again: “A few of the purveyors of this bigoted nonsense might actually believe it. Most of them, however, are merely seeking political gain by inviting white voters to question the motives and good faith of the nation’s first African-American president. This is really about tearing Barack Obama down.

“….These allegations of anti-white racism are being deliberately hyped and exaggerated because they are designed to make whites fearful. It won’t work with most people, of course, but it works with some—enough, perhaps, to help erode Obama’s political standing and damage his party’s prospects at the polls.”

I’ll add a Presbyterian “amen” to that. (It really drives the bigots nuts that so many other white people voted for Obama.)

After his column was published, Robinson appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Lawrence O’Donnell subbed for the host.

O’Donnell agreed with his guest that politics is behind the pandering to racism. It was evident during the presidential campaign of 2008, he added.

“Right-wing radio talk show hosts were talking about …reparations for slavery if you elect [Obama]…,” O’Donnell recalled. “They were ginning up their audiences about all sorts of possibilities of ‘reverse racism’…These very same radio talk show hosts wanted people to vote for the Republican candidate for president, which they presumably will want again in 2012. They presumably want voters to vote for Republicans this fall. Much of this talk is designed to work electorally against Democrats.”

Robinson agreed. “The focal point is Barack Obama, the first African American president. It is designed to weaken him, to weaken his political position and that of his party.”

“In his column and on Countdown, Robinson urged the president to stand up to the bigots and their “reverse racism” scam.

“….The Sherrod case has fully exposed the right-wing campaign to use racial fear to destroy Obama’s presidency, and I hope the effect is to finally stiffen some spines in the administration,” he wrote. “The way to deal with bullies is to confront them, not run away.”

Double “Amen.”

Berry Craig


  1. annieR says

    The wrangling about the Tea Party being racist or not is garbage, and almost everyone involved in the argument knows it. The “take our country back” people want to take it back to a white president and Jim Crow. Those in power on the right manipulate the ignorant and stupid in their party with the dumb signs and hats. Informed, intelligent people in this country should be horrified.

    • Marshall says

      I am well informed, have been for years, and the policies of this government are not that I would vote for again.

  2. concerned in portland says

    I think Ryder hit the nail on the head. I am disappointed that President Obama can look us stright in the eye and lie. He can even defend his lies with more lies when he is challenged. I don’t care about’s the color our President’s skin. (That is unless he is blue.I hate those Smurfs) I don’t like his actions.

    He said that this country could not take 4 more years of Bush’s policies. We both agree on that one. But, why do we still have troops in the middle east? Let then fight their own wars.

    What about Gitmo? Closing Gitmo was one of the first things he signed, but it is still running fine.

    My question to you Mr. Robinson is, Are you a racist? It seems like you want to prejudge white people and pretend they are all the same. There is good and bad in ALL races! Mr. Robinson, you sound like the people DR. Martin Luther King was protesting and marching against, but i guess that is OK now because they were white. Racisim comes in all different colors.

  3. Nikolai says

    I totally agree with Robinson. All the republicans want is for President Obama to fail, regardless of how it affects American citizens. All they care about is getting back in power. In the meantime they are doing their best to hold the county hostage.

    • concerned in portland says

      Dear Nikolai, Republicans can not stop our current Democratic congress from passing anything they can agree on. The only thing about the Health Care Refome Bill that both parties agreed on was to prevent it’s passage. Democritic leaders needed to make promises and deals to get members of their own party to vote for it. President Obama signed a document promissing that abortions would not be covered by government dollars, but 3 states are currently performing abortions under the health care bill. OPPs!

      Maybe it’s time to check the facts.

  4. Ryder says

    This is kind of a sad article. It’s all about spinning reality.

    Of course mad people vote. They always do. And they should. Was any one here mad about Bush? I thought so…

    And angry people SHOULD vote… Isn’t that obvious?

    But should anyone be angry at Congress or Obama?

    Objectivly looking at the facts… The current congress has been controlled by democrats for years… all because they ran on ending the wars. As soon as they got into office, it was like… “what wars? Are there any wars?” and you will notice that it has been status quo…. Still in two wars with a troop surge to boot! (which Obama was against when Bush did it, remember)

    The democrats renewed the patriot act…. And worse, they have empowered the IRS to seize property REGARDLESS of tax law…

    I can’t think of a single pledge that Obama has kept…. From lobbyists, to televised healthcare debate, to transparency, to 5 day public access to all bills before he signs them.

    Can you think of a single important promise he kept?

    He is fighting wars like Bush (except he is losing ground), he failed on the environmental disaster in the gulf like Bush did with Katerina… Taking more vacations than any president in my lifetime. I think he is just a smooth talking lawyer at this point, with nearly no experience or true leadership… He just knows how to SOUND like a leader…. But if you look under the hood, there is nothing much there.

    The point is, everyone is starting to figure this out. He has delt serious blows to our productivity, while at the same time growing government which we can’t possibly pay for.

    Yes, people have lots of reasons to be disillusioned and even angry. Its politics as usual in Washington…. Ignoring the people while advancing political power and breaking promises.

    My advice… Treat Obama as a person, and quit defending him for being black. Being black is not helping America in the slightest, and so it is foolish to defend it. He is a person, with no experience for his job except a few months as a junior senator…. And I’m not sure that’s much of an asset. I think it might just be corrupting.

    This is just hypocritical garbage by someone feeling very defensive.

    • Marshall says

      good post, my mother told me not to say anything about someone that you would not say to their face. I sent my list of faults to the white house. BO was not the first black person to get my vote and there will be others, but he will not get one from me. I find it strange that if I am not pleased with a black CIC then it is because he is black. I have a child with a black partner and I like her, we agree on many things. I can remember being arrested for transporting a black into Texas once long ago. That can not happen now. Well, it did not happen that time in 1960 either bacause both the black male and I were in the Army and when the Texas state police discoverd that, we were no longer arrested. Later my mother’s sister tucked him into bed and fed him breakfast the next day. He was one confussed person as we continued our trip west, some whites wanted to put him jail and others made him a bed and breakfast. We all make too much of this color thing, just treat all like you would want to be treated, that is my motto.

  5. Jay Levenberg,Esq. says

    Why not just look at the unemployment rate which is, after all, the best pediction tool we have about the elections in November. It won’t be about race. It won’t be about the Arizona law and it won’t be about Sherrod. It will simply be a determination of the public, particularly independent voters, as to whether Obama has done enough on job creation and how the public feels about the economy. The rest is just sideline play for the journalists.

  6. Bill Gibbons says

    There will always be racism in both psarties to a greater or lesser extent. Race aside, Obama is possibly the worst president since Carter.

    • Nikolai says

      Why? Because he’s not a white republican? Please list the reasons. Also, please list the reasons that Reagan for instance, is/was superior. I’m waiting…

      • concerned in portland says

        I think Ryder did a pretty good job listing a few of the broken promisses by President Obama.

  7. Ted Radamaker says

    I tend to agree with Robinson’s opinion here, but I would like to see some objective evidence from scientific polling that would tell us the extent of racism in both Parties.

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