In a week with the NBA Finals beginning, and an African-American baseball player named Mookie Betts tearing the cover off the ball (in a sport that the media loves to single out for lack of black representation), you’d think ESPN’s flagship website, the one that deals with sports and race, would be far too busy talking about Lebron, Steph Curry, and Mookie to slander President Obama’s political opponents as racists.
Well, you’d be wrong.
ESPN’s The Undefeated, ran part of a series this week by Michael A. Fletcher, titled, “A Question of Racism: What’s Behind the Vitriol in the Opposition to Obama.”
Spoiler Alert: according to Fletcher the “question” of racism when it comes to Obama’s detractors has already been asked, and answered: it’s definitely racism.
In his opening paragraph, Fletcher offers proof of the racism by citing something recent and relevant to today’s discourse...the 2009 incident where Joe Wilson shouted “You lie,” during President Obama’s State of the Union:
“The words cut through the air as President Obama, not eight months into his first term, laid out his signature health care proposal in a prime-time speech to a joint session of Congress.
The outburst by South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson, challenging the president’s factual assertion that the health care law would not extend coverage to illegal immigrants, drew audible gasps in the room and withering stares from Obama as well as Vice President Joe Biden and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who were sitting behind the president on the rostrum.
It’s unprecedented for a president addressing Congress to be heckled like a referee at a summer league basketball game. Not surprisingly, the incident still rankles Obama supporters, including some of his closest confidants.”
Of course, many of those confidants rankled, since they were in on the lie as well. Between 2001 and 2013, 42% of the growth in Medicaid enrollments came from both legal and illegal immigrants. Obama lying about his signature piece of legislation doesn’t appear to really bother Fletcher here, only that someone actually called him out on it.
Fletcher continued down the racial path by citing a quote from former Attorney General Eric Holder:
“There is a unique feeling of fear — hatred is too strong a word — but a feeling of anger, dissatisfaction with this president,” Holder said.
All of which raises a disturbing question: Is racism to blame?
Isn’t it a smidge too hasty, to rule out the idea that Obama is just an awful President? Can’t having over 94,000,000 Americans out of the workforce, the military forced to borrow spare parts from museum aircraft in order to fly, and the rise of ISIS be enough for anger or dissatisfaction?
“The continuous challenges to the president’s legitimacy and authority offer a troubling counterpoint to the shimmering achievement his election and re-election represent for a nation founded on both the dream of equality and the reality of white supremacy. They evoke a shameful history, when whites routinely addressed blacks by their first names and adult men were called “boy” and otherwise diminished without a second thought, no matter their age or standing.
Any one or two or three of the slights to Obama could be dismissed as insignificant one-offs, the last gasps of a dying order that relegated people of color to a lesser place.”
Will these last gasps come from the same political party founded as an abolitionist movement, its leadership directly responsible for the freedom of black people from bondage? After all, I wouldn’t want it confused with the party that supported slavery and segregation. Then people might get the wrong idea.
As an example of wretched racism that Obama had to confront, Fletcher cites Obama’s inauguration and the drama the surrounding it:
“Obama’s 2009 inauguration drew nearly 2 million people, possibly the largest crowd ever to assemble in Washington. The festive throng stretched along the National Mall, a place once dotted with slave pens, to witness the first black president being sworn into office. It was a special moment in the nation’s history, but Obama would not have long to bask in it.
As the nation celebrated and the first couple made the rounds of inaugural balls, a group of powerful Republicans were looking for ways to limit the new president’s impact. Over dinner that same night at the Caucus Room restaurant about a mile from the White House, more than a dozen people — including powerful congressmen Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Kevin McCarthy of California, as well as then-senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina, John Ensign of Nevada and Jon Kyl of Arizona — started planning how to undercut the new president.
They said they could not attack the president personally — they thought he was too popular — but promised that they would obstruct his initiatives. The strategy crystalized in the public mind nearly two years later — well before the next presidential campaign would even begin — when Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate’s top Republican, said he planned to see to it that Obama was a one-term president. McConnell did add that if Obama did a Clintonian backflip, “it’s not inappropriate for us to do business with him … I don’t want the president to fail, I want him to change.”’
I’m old enough to remember when obstructing your opponents’ agenda, and trying to get him voted out of office, was the actual job of an opposition party. Now apparently it makes you Bull Connor.
But of course Bull Connor was a Klansman, and a member of the DNC. Which is inconvenient for Mr. Fletcher’s recollection of “history.” As pretty much everything is.