And now for your regular slug of GOP WTF: how they hell do they sleep at night?

Apparently, POTUS telling kids to work hard in school is part of Obama’s ‘socialist agenda’ – I shit you not.

The Republican fringe is discrediting the entire party with this sort of panic-mongering, but that’s not all. They’re normalising extremist political antagonism, and that’s a very dangerous crop to start sowing. This hysterical racist fringe really have convinced themselves that one of the most don’t-rock-the-boat moderate centrists to be elected as POTUS in recent memory is a destructive socialist revolutionary, and I fear for the innocents that are sure to be caught up in the storms to follow.

It’s very hard to see it as about anything other than race. My wish for the last US election at the time of the primaries was to have Hillary in the White House with Obama as VP, and there’s no doubt that if Hillary Clinton were POTUS now, the fringe haters would be going for her jugular too, but I can’t imagine them being so successful in stirring such a broad panic. That’s even though a Clinton administration would probably be pushing for more extensive social reforms in many areas than the Obama administration is ever likely to do (while probably being more hawkish regarding military intervention, but since the Obama admin is only making dove noises while still letting the hawks in Congress run the show, no practical difference there). At least if Hillary was POTUS she’d ignore the fringe frothing and gibbering (seen it all before, boring) while she got on with pushing the Dems in Congress to grow a spine against GOP rhetoric and corporate lobbyists. The Congressional Dems would fight her on it all, but wouldn’t it be refreshing to see them actually fighting anybody? But why should they fight right now when they watch their POTUS roll over for the wingnuts over and over again?

I’m starting to feel an awful sense of dread as we watch the wingnut fringe go berserk at the slightest excuse, watch the Obama administration bend over backwards to reassure them and accommodate their demands, only to see the next cycle of berserk hyperbole escalate even further. It seems only a matter of time before some really ugly violence goes down, from which the talkback radio and tabloid-TV hatemongers will scramble to distance themselves, denying any responsibility whatsoever.

I appreciate that nobody really expected the wingnut firestorm against Obama to be quite this extreme, but I really expected Obama to be more of a leader and less of an appeaser. He should be making more of a stand against the rhetoric of hate instead of pretending it isn’t happening on the one hand and giving the fringe’s demands respectability by caving on them on the other hand – they are ridiculous demands and should be just given an eyeroll to show how ridiculous they are, not treated as valid requests in any way.

Sure, the administration is caught in a hard position. Many of the people making the loudest panicked noises and passing on the hysteria are the very people that health reform in particular is meant to help, and it must be galling indeed to not be able to reach them and convince them that this is the truth of it all. I understand that the Obama administration really wants to honestly convince these people that they really are being screwed by the Republican-Libertarian health insurance lobby, and have them just not hate him so hard, but that’s never going to happen. There are polemicists out there who really seem to want to incite people to kill the President, and responding gently time and time again is only going to encourage them to keep on ramping up the rhetoric until someone acts on it.



Categories: culture wars, language, media, Politics

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3 replies

  1. I voted for Obama, but I had voted for Kucinich in the Democratic Party primary (one day before he dropped out, via absentee ballot for homebound disabled).
    Obama is too Centrist, and now I’d add, “corporate” President. From a Left perspective, (sources that I read regularly, even if
    I don’t agree with all. Howard Zinn, my favorite US historian says it’s OK to write
    history with a point of view, so long as you have facts backing up the view. My favorite book is his memoir, autobio “You Can’t Be Neutral on A Moving Train”,
    Boston:Beacon Press, the 2003 edition has a wonderful introduction that is good.)
    Zinn is about 86 years old and has been involved in the social movements of
    the US, along with his wife, Roslyn Zinn, who died May, 2008. Google “Howard Zinn). Zinn and Roslyn Z. were born in Brooklyn, NYC as was I, but almost 2 decades later.
    There are sources for a good Left criticism of Obama. (I am still, barely a
    Democrat, mostly based on lifelong family “habit”.) Paul Street, a historian
    based in the midWest of the US, not far from Obama’s “home turf”, Chicago ,
    write a good political summary of Obama in Znet, an online “page”, that is very
    intellectual (for me), http://www.zcommunications.org/znet (If my low tech skills
    have messed up, just google Zcommunications and Znet or Paul Street.) The article is on the Znet page on August 15, 2009 – just scroll down. It’s title is
    “…Obama, the Corporations and the ‘punking’ of America”. Very easy read, factual and helpful.
    The other Obama source I recommend is BlackAgendaReport, which is run by
    Glen Ford and Bruce A. Dixon, from a black left perspective. Their articles on
    Obama are critical, with good information that the corporate media in the US usually ignores, omits or “buries”.
    I am disappointed in Obama: war(s), secrecy (also see Glenn Greenwald on
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald who covers the media and Obama and Obama
    doing a lot like “W” Bush), health care, the pro-privatization of education, etc.
    I fear for his safety. My country has a poor record on safety for politicians’ lives.
    I know 1 Republican (because we have the same illness: CFS/ME and all the years pre-internet, she kept me “connected” to the world), who is forbidden to
    discuss politics with me. For years I argued, but there’s no point and it just
    wears me out physically and mentally.
    I would urge people to avoid any form of the “nut” (as in “wingnut”) or
    “crazy” words, which has a long history in the US. (I even found it an a history book about Lincoln: “We Are Lincoln Men”, David Herbert Donald, 2003; it was
    used in his election against opponents.) It’s very pervasive in political writing.
    It gives much pain to people with mental disabilities, mental illness, who already
    suffer from much stereotyping in the US media.

  2. I forgot to give the url for Black Agenda Report http://www.blackagendareport.com

  3. Thanks for the links Sanda.
    I apologise for using a term some find painful – I must admit that I thought that wingnut had an entirely different etymology to do with an analogy to the hardware item, but if people are now using it as an equivalent to “nutjob” etc then it has obviously become a marginalising term for those with mental illness, and thus I would not choose to cause that pain.
    The problem, I have discovered, with using terms which are not etymologically related to well known marginalising terms is that yahoos and troglodytes start using them as sly digs with built-in plausible deniability. I didn’t fully appreciate how this works until recently reading an article about how bigots started using the term “niggardly” in conversations with/in front of POC just so they could do the faux-innocent act of “but it’s got nothing to do with the N-word” if called on it. That’s the sort of malice I definitely do not want to be part of perpetuating.

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