What's All This Then?

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I think I have to apologize to Charles Krauthammer for my frequent criticisms of his views. Sometimes the things he writes can be revealing - as for instance a recent column on why it’s tough to be a foreign ally of "Obama’s America." Yep. He used that particular phrase. A little like Rush Limbaugh talking about a fracas on a school bus, explaining that "In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, 'Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on." But that’s not the particular revelation that drew my attention - the implication that "Obama’s America" is somehow unlike the good old USA. Krauthammer lists a few countries where his actions have made it difficult for them to be our friends. Poland and the Czech Republic because he canceled the anti missile complex that Bush wanted to put in their countries. Indians must be miffed because he visited China but not India. But Krauthammer devotes most of his column to lament the way Obama is treating the poor Brits - from whence a revelation springs that perhaps explains something about the so called "Tea Baggers."

Krauthammer says that Obama has slighted Prime Minster Gordon Brown and his fellow Brits in several ways and that the "special relationship" that has existed between the two nations for decades is on the wane. Those same sentiments have surfaced in England in recent times and Krauthammer quotes the words of David Manning, a former UK Ambassador to the United States, saying of Obama, "He is an American who grew up in Hawaii, whose foreign experience was of Indonesia and who had a Kenyan father. The sentimental reflexes, if you like, are not there." In other words - one of the reasons the "special relationship" isn’t the same as it was with Bush or Clinton or any of the other presidents of the 20th century is - "he’s not like us" - white and preferably of European descent. Which I think is a sentiment shared by many of the Tea Baggers and contributing in so small way to their alleged "anger."

I put anger in quotes and call it alleged, because for the life of me, I can’t understand what they are so angry about other than their extreme dislike for the person occupying the White House. The allegations of "socialist" and "communist" are of course nonsense. I doubt that the people carrying such signs and screaming such epithets understand the meaning of the words. There is nothing that has changed for the worse for Americans that can be attributed to any action of Obama. Most of the worrisome things that existed under Bush have been continued under Obama but they haven’t been made worse by anything that he’s done. Most middle class Americans have received a tax break. The existing health insurance of Americans hasn’t changed because of the health reform bill - but a great deal of what was bad about health insurance will be phased out over time. There is absolutely nothing that makes any sense that would cause or justify the hate filled crowds that we have seen at so called Tea Party "rallies." Unless… Unless..

Unless, as Glenn Beck tells us, "healthcare reform is reparations for slavery." Unless, as Sara Palin tells us, "healthcare reform includes death panels." Watch out for the Grandma killers. Unless you believe whatever Rush Limbaugh says - the list of his misinformation and lies being so long that there’s no room to list them here but you can check just one of the several web sites that track his nonsense.

The government isn’t "taking over" anything. Loans were made to automobile companies. They are not being run by Washington. The government didn’t "take over" the student loan "business." It always did guarantee the loans that banks made to students. Making direct loans saves taxpayer money. The banks will do O.K. without this extra government largesse. The census isn’t some kind of plot to keep tabs on everyone. It’s necessary if you want your fair share of representatives and of federal programs No one I know likes to pay taxes, but they are necessary - Republican campaign promises to the contrary. And it was Republican icon Ronald Reagan who proposed the largest peacetime tax increase in history. Taxes aren’t a reason to gather in the streets with the kind of disgusting signs that we have seen displayed at rally after rally. So what is really going on?

First and most obvious is that the Republicans made a calculated decision to oppose any and all Obama programs and proposals. This alone gave aid and comfort to what have become known as the Tea Baggers Secondly, a majority of the protesters get their news and form their opinions after watching the Fox Network and listening to the dozens of right wing radio talkers around the country, headed by Limbaugh, Hannity et al. And finally there’s the man in the White House who is "not like us." Limbaugh has launched a preemptive defense of race based criticism of the president by alleging that "you can’t criticize Obama because you’ll be called a racist." But it is clear that among the Tea Party crowd , there is an undercurrent of pure hatred of the man - the sort of hatred that has been displayed against people of color throughout the history of this country.

People were angry throughout the eight years of the G.W. Bush presidency but I don’t recall crowds on the streets with signs depicting him as Hitler or flooding the halls of Congress cursing out loud at all those damned gray haired Anglo-Saxon males trying to get to their offices. Nor do I recall crowds of this nature attacking Clinton - whose political philosophy and proposals were not unlike those of Obama. No, there’s something different going on here. Something to do with who Obama is rather than anything he has done. The Tea Baggers will deny it vehemently, but I think Ambassador Manning had it just right.