By Lynn Paris
Why the Right Fears Obama
I didn’t really want to write a column today, but when watching Bill Maher the other night he began riffing on a topic that I’ve not only written and talked about, but agree with so completely that I felt compelled to write a few words.
Maher wanted to know how it was possible that people like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachman, Donald Trump, Sean Hannity . . . in other words, conservative Republicans whether credible or incredible, could possibly label Obama as the most extreme leftist politician this country has ever seen . . . while liberals and independents don’t believe Obama is nearly progressive enough!
He showed some quotes to make his point: According to Newt, “Obama is the most radical leftist president in history.” Michelle Bachmann agrees, saying, “Obama is the most radical president we have ever seen in the history of the country.” Then there’s this bit of wisdom from John Bolton, “Obama just doesn’t care about national security,” and finally, from Marco Rubio, “Obama is the most divisive figure in American history.”
Bill Maher actually skipped right through that last one because he was on a roll, but it really was the statement that best supported his point. The fact is, Obama IS divisive, but not because of his policies. Unfortunately, he’s divisive because his name is Barack Hussein Obama . . . and he’s black. Which means he’s different . . . he’s the dreaded “other.” I know nobody likes hearing that and just about everybody denies it, but what else about this president has made right-wingers so frantically vitriolic? I know what they say; it’s his policies, his ideology or even that they know what he really wants to do (because they’re so tuned into him they can read his mind!) But let’s look at the facts.
We’re still in Afghanistan. We’re drilling more than ever. We don’t have healthcare for everyone; we don’t even have a public option. We still have a bloated defense budget and we still have a ridiculous and counter-productive war on drugs. There’s been no carbon emissions bill and not even a hint of gun control legislation. As far as big business is concerned, Obama hasn’t broken up the big banks, regulation may have passed but it’s not being enforced and corporate profits are higher than ever.
So if anyone should be disappointed with Obama, it’s the left! It’s Bill Maher. It’s me. Yet we’ll still vote for him.
When I was looking for some quotes from the right-wing about how extreme Obama is, I googled the words “Obama, leftist, extremist,” hoping to find the quotes I had seen on Bill Maher’s show. I did, but what I also found was eye-opening. I found pages and pages of the kind of garbage that feeds the right-wing frenzy. I saw dozens of books and articles “proving” that Obama is really a Kenyan socialist, how Obama’s Department of Homeland Security spies on you through social media, how Michelle “fat-cakes” Obama took her children to a Beyonce concert . . . and I thought Fox News was the only culprit. The hatred out there on the fringe, and sadly, on the not-so-fringe, is really palpable. Only it’s not really hatred so much as fear: fear of the “other.” When they say they want their country back, they really mean it. They are scared to death.
But back to why I, as a progressive, will still vote for Obama (and why Maher, with all his disappointment and frustration, donated $1 million to Obama’s campaign) even though he has turned out to be not nearly as progressive as either of us had hoped. In my opinion, the first reason is that we enjoy having an intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate human being in the White House. The second is that we understand that Obama was forced to compromise in order to deal with an intransigent Congress that thwarted any attempt he made to move this country forward rather than backwards . . . a Congress that held up significant, game-changing legislation with the filibuster because defeating Obama was far more important than doing anything to help the country.
And the third reason we will vote for Obama is because the alternative is unthinkable.