Watching Rep. King from Iowa and some other jerk congressman smirking as they taunt Obama about the debt issue and call him a flat-out liar. This is so outside of politics. It’s just race-baiting and setting up the black guy while calling him ignorant and inept.
Obama has more than a few flaws, but those are primarily issues between him and the disappointed left, myself included at times, but our differences, however strong, don’t bring about a failure of common decency.
This constant attempt at humiliation simply would never happen with a white President no matter how strongly partisan the opposition. The frustration of watching it brings me close to tears. Well… “Get up, stand up.”
A large part of the right wing’s hated toward the President is based on their deep-seated contempt for African Americans (and other ethic and racial minorities: look at how Alabama Republicans this week are talking about “immigrants,” by which they don’t mean Canadians), but we make a serious mistake if we think that is all there is to it. There is a very deep and growing streak of proto-fascism that is taking over party that used to belong to Lincoln and some other patriots. This was noticeable during the Palin rallies where she would lead the chorus of “Socialist!” (Of course her convention speech before that gave tribute to American fascist Westbrook Pegler.) They don’t even make any pretense that they are about democracy any more. They sneer at intellectuals (be it climate scientists, evolutionists, Juan Cole, etc.). They can’t participate in rational discourse; they stick to their belief system regardless of evidence. They have completely sold out to the plutocracy and cow-tow to the oligarchs who run things (in whatever industry, they hate democratic regulation of capital). (Note how the reactionaries on the Supreme Court equate corporate money with “speech.”) Ironically they claim as their beacon “Austrian economics,” a school which believes that capital should decide everything and people nothing. They put bona fascists on radio and TV, including the buffoonish Glenn Beck. They are playing with fire (as we’ve seen in one instance) by encouraging gun-owners at rallies and by legislation. (I for one never knew there was a crying need for people to carry concealed weapons on university campuses and at donut shops.)
We have never been closer to America’s fascist moment. I say this having lived a while and having seen and studied McCarthy and his goons, Nixon and his merry band of thugs and lesser American reactionaries. They are filled with hatred against blacks but their will savage anyone who stands in their way. Look at the vitriolic lies they spewed about Kerry, Gore, Bill Clinton. They hate homosexuals and non-Christians (though they pretend to tolerate Jews so they can support Israel’s never-ending war and arms buildups). Women have to pretend to be subservient to their husbands (see Bachmann’s speech to her “Christian” supporters) and then they rail against the threat of “Islamic sharia.” They openly despise unions and the working class. (Orrin Hatch this past week made the remarkable speech that the poor and middle class has to do its part to solve the debt “crisis.”)
We are currently in great danger of acting out the death throws of the Weimar Republic because we are making the following mistakes: 1) We treat this threat to democracy individually (they are “only” rascists, or anti-Union or climate change deniers) and refuse to treat this threat in a united way; 2) We think that by “compromise” we will mollify them (this has been the President’s odd fixation, but look at how they treated Bill Clinton after he veered to the right); 3) Instead of responding to the threat by the tradition means that the left has always used (rallies, organizing, ceaseless writings and alarm sounding), we are left flat-footed because our “leaders” are afraid to look like they are engaging in class warfare or like we are against gun rights, but probably most importantly, because they are afraid they will lose access to rich campaign donors. We are witnessing the answer to the question that often plagues people looking back: Why didn’t the social democrats in Europe do anything in the 1930s.
It will be interesting to see in the next couple of weeks whether this band of right wing bomb throwers are willing to throw over the advice of their corporatist masters on the debt ceiling. That will signal that they have crossed a threshold from which there is no turning back.