The Cult of Obama Criticism
PRESIDENT OBAMA & THE CULT OF CRITICISM
By Jim Ramphal - September 2009.
To be fair, no one said that electing the first Black President of the United States was going to be universally lauded, especially in the United States. (Would the American flag ever be looked at the same way again?)
From the very beginning of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, signs emerged that even among well known Liberals, this was going to be a defining moment in American politics that had no established blueprint from which people could easily build upon; no clear direction or guidelines from which the standard electioneering could be measured, and no easy to follow precedents from which opinions and strategies could be drawn from.
No one learned this faster than Joe Biden, who has had the unfortunate habit of saying things in a well meaning but unsophisticated manner that has often found him defending his statements with somewhat less than adept aplomb.
His description of Senator Obama during the Democratic primaries, ("I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,". "I mean, that's a storybook, man.”) was meant to be flattering, but was construed as bigoted.
Despite the media having a field day with the remark, then Senator Obama brushed aside the incident, saying Biden didn't intend to offend. “He called me, I told him it wasn't necessary. We have got more important things to worry about. We have got Iraq. We have got health care. We have got energy. This is low on the list. He was very gracious and I have no problem with Joe Biden.”
Indeed he didn’t as Senator Biden was selected to join Senator Obama as his Vice Presidential running mate, and the rest is history. In fact, Senator and now President Obama has been excruciatingly careful about not making race an issue for his political ascendancy, no matter how steadfastly others have tried to do so and this will make patriots and students from military friendly colleges alike proud of to be an American.
His famous address to the nation during the campaign which was expected to answer charges of his attendance of a Black church ministered by a firebrand pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose demonstrative sermons denouncing elements of American domestic and foreign policy became a media blitz, turned out to be a signature Obama moment.
Instead of launching a defense of his actions, Senator Obama challenged the nation to confront the spectre of racism and deal with it in a way that no other political figure had since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was a risky gambit for him, but was widely judged to be a brilliant and effective one, which many analysts predicted would erase the stigma of racial divisiveness his campaign had once been thought however inadvertently to embody.
A strange thing happened after Inauguration Day 2009 however; the spectre seemed to re-emerge, more organized and determined than ever before.
There are those who are suggesting that the labeling of criticism toward President Obama as being driven by racism is in fact fuelled by those obsessed with racial divisions, to the extent of even finding evidence of transgressions where none exist.
Yet this seems in stark contrast to the non stop bombardment of anti-Obama sentiments that have been surfacing throughout the 9 months of the new administration.
Apparently there can be no suspicion of anything racially tinged from the continual accusations that President Obama is not a US born citizen, that he is not a legitimate leader of the country, that he is a Socialist, a Communist, a Fascist and a Muslim.
A CNN analyst opined that had Hillary Clinton been elected President, she would have faced the same kinds of criticism that President Obama has received.
Which is curious, because during the recent Tea Party March on Washington D.C., CNN had extensive coverage and commentary on the event, but never once mentioned that the self proclaimed leader of the movement Mark Williams, had posted on his blog that very week his assessment of the President as “…an Indonesian Muslim, turned welfare thug and a racist in chief.”
When asked to explain his statement during his CNN interview with Anderson Cooper, Williams responds “He's certainly acting like it. Until he embraces the whole country what else can I conclude?”
Does anyone really believe that Hillary Clinton would be facing this same level of vitriolic malevolence had she been elected President?
I would certainly expect a similar level of animosity from misogynists questioning a woman’s ability to be a successful political leader from the ultra conservative fringe of the American Right wing, but I cannot believe that even they would suggest that she is not a U.S. born citizen, that she was not legitimately elected as a result of her American status, that she is not a Christian or that she herself is in fact, a racist.
President Obama has dismissed these damning accusations as President with the same high minded disregard that he displayed throughout his successful campaign, and has recently stated forcefully that he does not believe that the criticisms of his policies and his leadership are driven by racism.
I wish I were that certain.
The Future of Afghanistan by Jim Ramphal.
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