CNN Panel Ties 'Racism' to 'Obama Derangement Syndrome'; Hits Reagan, Bush

On Sunday's Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, host Zakaria seemed to be doing an impression of the type of super-biased political panel one would expect to find at MSNBC in the form of four liberals pitted against one moderate Republican and no conservatives discussing the role of racism in opposition to President Barack Obama.

The accusations of racism against conservatives included The New Yorker editor David Remnick charging that George H.W. Bush used "racist memes" to win the 1988 presidential campaign and repeating a discredited claim of Ronald Reagan using a racist "dog whistle" by talking states' rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi, during his 1980 campaign.

Princeton University Professor Emerita Nell Irvin Painter thought it relevant to invoke the segregationist Dixiecrat Party of 1948, and, as if white liberals accusing conservatives of racism were somehow a new phenomenon, oddly ended up declaring that it is "new" that "smart talking heads" who are "not black" are now "seeing the side of American politics that I have known for many, many, many years," which in her view is "the xenophobia and the racism," as she rejoiced that "I feel more American or I feel more at one with thoughtful Americans who are not black."



Zakaria introduced the segment claiming there have been "attacks on foreigners" in the presidential campaign and identified the nearly all-liberal panel members as "some of my favorite writers and historians":

To talk about the historical precedence or lack thereof what we are seeing -- the anger, the success of the political outsiders, the nationalism, the attacks on foreigners, the divisiveness -- I've asked some of my favorite writers and historians here today to give us a historical lens through which to view this election.

Remnick quickly implicated racism in "Obama Derangement Syndrome" as he responded:

And here we are, almost eight years later, and I think the sources of what you could call "Obama derangement syndrome" are largely about race. ... What has propelled Donald Trump's political career, I mean, he's been around New York's ego scape for decades as a semi-comical figure, but in an economic sense, in a political sense, what propelled him to the fore was his support of the birther meme. That's it. And he's challenging a sitting President's legitimacy by challenging the notion of where he was born, knowing full well it was nonsense.

Zakaria then turned to "moderate Republican" author Geoffrey Kabaservice, who argued that race "probably has something to do with it, but I wouldn't say it's the primary driver," as he went on to tie in economic struggles of blue-collar whites supporting Trump.

The CNN host turned to Painter and flippantly tied in racism as he posed:

Paul Krugman was on this program, and he said, "I find that every time somebody says something incredibly racist on the campaign trail, people say, 'Look, there goes another economically anxious voter.'" [everyone laughs] Which do you think it is?

As if to suggest that the party out of power having the goal of undermining and defeating a President from the beginning of his first term were somehow unusual, the Princeton historian griped:

There is something to the economic argument, but there's a whole lot more. And I am struck by how difficult it's been for moderate Republicans and conservatives to see what's right in front of their eyes. And that is this outburst since Obama became President. I mean, the first words out of their mouths was, "He's only going to be a one-term President." It's like, "This is our game."

She then brought up past opposition to civil rights for blacks from some Democrats as she continued:

And I would like to talk about possible parallels in terms of the campaign. One is 1948 where -- when Truman embraced black civil rights, all hell broke loose, and there was actually a separate party, the states' rights Democrats, we know them as the Dixiecrats. They ran their own campaign. They ran Strom Thurmond. They got a few electoral votes in the Deep South. They did not win. Truman miraculously got another term. But it's very clear that the response was against black civil rights.

After liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne spent his time mostly recalling the economic problems of blue-collar whites since the 1970s, Remnick jumped back in to tie racism to former Republican Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Remnick:

Isn't it just a switch in tone? We have a party that has been using the racial dog whistle since at least the Southern Strategy moment of the Nixon campaign. George H.W. Bush, however admired by Barack Obama in foreign affairs, employed Lee Atwater to use racist means in his political campaigns. Ronald Reagan, who is practically deified by not only the Republican party but across the political spectrum, opens a campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and talks about the greatness of states' rights, which is another kind of dog whistle.

Now, you have a different kind of demagogue. He doesn't use the dog whistle, he uses the bullhorn. And he has talent.

Painter soon rejoiced that intelligent whites are finally "acknowledging" racism from Republicans as she injected:

Can I say a couple of things? And this is personal. That I have noted over the course of this campaign, that something new is happening, and that is that smart talking heads are now -- who are not black -- are now seeing the side of American politics that I have known for many, many, many years, and acknowledging it as part of our politics. And that is the xenophobia and the racism. It's not just Republicans or not just conservatives. So, in this sense, I feel more American or I feel more at one with thoughtful Americans who are not black.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Sunday, April 3, Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN:

FAREED ZAKARIA: To talk about the historical precedence or lack thereof what we are seeing -- the anger, the success of the political outsiders, the nationalism, the attacks on foreigners, the divisiveness -- I've asked some of my favorite writers and historians here today to give us a historical lens through which to view this election.

David Remnick is the editor of The New Yorker. Nell Irwin Painter is a history professor emerita at Princeton University. E.J. Dionne is a columnist for the Washington Post. Geoffrey Kabaservice is a historian and author. ... David Remnick, every President in a sense -- in some sense sows the seeds of the campaign to replace him. So when you look back at history, how do you think people will write about Obama? You wrote a biography of his, but going even further up to 20 years from now, what would they say about Obama that produced this campaign?

DAVID REMNICK, THE NEW YORKER: Well, there are a lot of issues that have transpired over the last eight years that could figure into a more comprehensive answer, but the theme of the book that I wrote was, it wasn't so much a biography, it was a book about race and Obama. And here we are, almost eight years later, and I think the sources of what you could call "Obama derangement syndrome" are largely about race. And -- look at how Donald Trump -- I get, it's like a drinking game, I get the first drink for mentioning Trump first.

What has propelled Donald Trump's political career, I mean, he's been around New York's ego scape for decades as a semi-comical figure, but in an economic sense, in a political sense, what propelled him to the fore was his support of the birther meme. That's it. And he's challenging a sitting President's legitimacy by challenging the notion of where he was born, knowing full well it was nonsense.

ZAKARIA: Geoffrey, you're a Republican -- a moderate Republican -- you've always pined for the moderate Republicans. Do you buy that Obama's race is at the center of the reaction you're seeing in the Republican party?

GEOFFREY KABASERVICE, AUTHOR: I think it probably has something to do with it, but I wouldn't say it's the primary driver. I think that what's driving Trump is really an eruption of populist sentiment, which we've seen at various points in American history. And specifically what's going on right now are the difficulties that a large segment of working class white America is experiencing. If you look at data, the wages for blue-collar workers have been flat in real terms since 1970, whereas they doubled between 1940 and 1960. These are very difficult times, and people are looking for answers, they're angry, and Donald Trump is one expression of this populism.

ZAKARIA: Paul Krugman was on this program, and he said, "I find that every time somebody says something incredibly racist on the campaign trail, people say, 'Look, there goes another economically anxious voter.'" [everyone laughs] Which do you think it is?

PROFESSOR EMERITA NELL IRVIN PAINTER, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY HISTORY DEPARTMENT: Exactly. Or they say, "I'm not a racist!"

ZAKARIA: But, so, do you think, I mean, historically, is this another outbreak of racism or -- there is something about it to this economic argument, though?

PAINTER: There is something to the economic argument, but there's a whole lot more. And I am struck by how difficult it's been for moderate Republicans and conservatives to see what's right in front of their eyes. And that is this outburst since Obama became President. I mean, the first words out of their mouths was, "He's only going to be a one-term President." It's like, "This is our game."

And I would like to talk about possible parallels in terms of the campaign. One is 1948 where -- when Truman embraced black civil rights, all hell broke loose, and there was actually a separate party, the states' rights Democrats, we know them as the Dixiecrats. They ran their own campaign. They ran Strom Thurmond. They got a few electoral votes in the Deep South. They did not win. Truman miraculously got another term. But it's very clear that the response was against black civil rights.

(...)

[E.J. Dionne argues that blue-collar whites who support Republicans have not been benefiting economically for decades, in addition to their being a race factor.]

REMNICK: Isn't it just a switch in tone? We have a party that has been using the racial dog whistle since at least the Southern Strategy moment of the Nixon campaign.

PAINTER: Yeah, yeah.

REMNICK: George H.W. Bush, however admired by Barack Obama in foreign affairs, employed Lee Atwater to use racist memes in his political campaigns. Ronald Reagan, who is practically deified by not only the Republican party but across the political spectrum, opens a campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and talks about the greatness of states' rights, which is another kind of dog whistle. Now, you have a different kind of demagogue. He doesn't use the dog whistle, he uses the bullhorn. And he has talent.

(...)

PAINTER: Can I say a couple of things? And this is personal. That I have noted over the course of this campaign, that something new is happening, and that is that smart talking heads are now -- who are not black -- are now seeing the side of American politics that I have known for many, many, many years, and acknowledging it as part of our politics. And that is the xenophobia and the racism. It's not just Republicans or not just conservatives. So, in this sense, I feel more American or I feel more at one with thoughtful Americans who are not black.

NB Daily 2016 Presidential Immigration Conservatives & Republicans Race Issues Racism Islam CNN Other CNN New Yorker Video Richard Nixon Fareed Zakaria David Remnick Donald Trump Strom Thurmond Ronald Reagan George H. W. Bush


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