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Jimmy Carter's Insult As Excuse-Making
'I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity
toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a
black man'. Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter, America's political equivalent of Liz Taylor, who
emerges every so often to stammer out the most insane gibberish
known to freethinking man, used the NBC Nightly News this week to
offer his derision of Southern whites and summarily branded the
opposing voices to this president, an African-American, and his
policies as racist.
The former president's
descent into dementia was evident a few years ago while promoting a
book on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, unfortunately entitled Palestine:
Peace Not Apartheid, when an otherwise brilliant thinker haphazardly
framed an almost amazingly infantile argument that would please many
half-wits comparing the current Healthcare debate to Nazi Germany. And
so it was then that Carter clearly established a preternatural need
to turn vague comparisons into unflinching accusation, as if it were
as simple as comparing a headache to decapitation.
Thus, his latest half-baked comments to a visibly flabbergasted Brian
Williams, who was caught somewhere between the glee of a man with a
scoop on his hands and an empathetic character wishing somehow the old
fool would trail off into the sunset, has a familiar ring to it: Disrespect
for the office of president, his policies and his authority, is nothing
less than veiled racial discrimination.
Bad move. Not constructive. Distracting.
The thing is, although it was as cheap and weak as the defenders of
the last president calling everyone unpatriotic, I get Carter's point.
He is a proud Southerner, born and bred in a time when Jim Crow laws
ruled and a random lynching was part of the Sunday morning church activities.
He's nauseated by and sensitive to these issues, like say, Bill Cosby,
who also felt the need to weigh in on the subject; a proud black man,
who was wrongly denied his rights in a time of segregation and systemic
violence against his people. I get it. We all get it.
However, nobody needs Jimmy Carter and Bill Cosby comparing those with
opposing views to a sickeningly large number of card-carrying racist
dummies in the South and by proxy their representatives like Joe Wilson
from South Carolina, who has spent his entire time down there defending
the flying of the Confederate Flag above the state capitol as some kind
of noble Southern legacy, instead of what it actually represents; the
total and utter defeat of America's greatest crime against humanity.
This is all common knowledge, but how it reflects on the current debate
about Healthcare or any other discussion of our current president's
policies, or how he is "treated" in the face of them, is patently
unfair and frankly further muddies an already sludge-filled river of
nonsense emanating from all sides.
Not to mention that broaching racism now flies in the face of the most
momentous and game-changing elections in our great country's tarnished
history. A mere nine months after a substantial majority of Americans
of all race, creed and color were dancing in the streets, shouting soliloquies
from rooftops and filling the columns of major international newspapers
with well-deserved celebration, and after a remarkable number of whites,
suburban, urban or otherwise (48%, in fact) voted for the first African-American
to lead a major ticket for president of the United States, its suddenly
all about race now?
Ill-timed. Ill-conceived. Insulting.
Especially in defense of the very man who while running for the nation's
highest office never initiated the playing of the race card to curry
favor or defend his right to lead. Only after ridiculous charges of
terrorist sympathies and cloudy origins and a strange middle name was
he forced to identify the elephant in the room; and even then he balked
at the chance to challenge why his opponent, John McCain spent years
trying to deny and eventually voted against making Martin Luther King
Day a national holiday.
This president knew the score better than any of us when he decided
to take on this challenge two years ago, something his Democratic opponent,
a woman, didn't get until it was too late. Not being the white, Anglo-Saxon
cookie-cutter would be an easy target, but at the same time cannot be
touched for fear of being labeled, and to be labeled in this country
is the nastiest of things. It keeps us from offering opinions that we
really mean and then retract post-backlash.
What is most disturbing about posing even the most extremist dissent
as racism is it lends itself to the promotion of Victimhood, another
American staple. Oh, poor Mr. Obama. He has no chance against the rowdy,
gun toting, Bible freaks! What? He's the fucking president. He was chosen
as such during the most widely reported and highly attended election
on record. He has the Constitution at his back and the army at his disposal.
Secondly, and most importantly, this entire mess completely ignores
the main tactic used against presidents by their opponents; a scheme
as old as the powdered wigs capping the skulls of the founders of this
grand experiment. It is Politics 101, and it has been used against every
chief executive since I've been sucking air -- Kennedy was a Roman Catholic
beholden to the Pope, Reagan was a doddering old fart capable of incinerating
us all, Bush senior was a wimp and his baby boy a dim bulb, Clinton
was a slick hippy and our beloved Jimmy Carter a dumb hick.
The stereotype the opposition has laid on Barack Obama is less about
his color than he being this media-created myth, a neophyte who is incapable
of leadership and thus a tool of the Democratic machine. Who knows anything
about this guy? The unknown newbie, ushered into an office he barely
deserves to steal bald eagles and piss on the Constitution.
Blah, blah, blah.
No one in recent memory had flown into the White House on the wings
of such reverent falderal as Barack Obama, and because of this the opposition
must mock, deride, and take the guy down a peg or two. It is the very
core of what we do here in this space; peck away at the two-dimensional
façade and see what remains. Whining about it only emboldens
the charade. This is why the president immediately derided Carter's
comments as not constructive and hardly representative of his stance.
It will always play a big part of what's going down; but to reduce it
to a political tactic equal to the boorish attacks it faintly hopes
to defuse is amateurish at best and at its worst plain ugly. This president,
this time, and this place are all the beginnings of a healing period
on this subject that has rarely been as pivitol in the national politic.
Women and minorities received their day in the public arena like no
other this past November. It was rousing success. One I thought impossible.
To return now to the standard hue and cry is tired 20th century thinking.
It's the equivalent of painting those of us who think Sarah Palin a
voodoo simpleton as misogynistic hate mongers.
© James Campion Sept 18th 2009
This past Wednesday, Barack Obama proved his political pedigree, unleashing
his thus far unforeseen feral side in an historic address to congress
upon its autumnal reconvening.
READERS RESPONSES September 28th 2009
Your column is a breath of fresh air. ("UN-AMERICAN" IS UN-AMERICAN
-- Issue 8/19/09) How dare that prune faced bitch and her dog Hoyer
call any protestor or anyone questioning them "unAmerican".
Every incumbent congressman/woman needs to be voted out of office and
You are SO brilliant and funny.....! God bless the truth, no matter
how much it may hurt ( CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?? AAHAHAHAAAA!!!!)
Paula DeMarta Mastroianni
I think you slipped into the insipidly moronic ... actually, the dangerously
moronic. You're not even close with this one. The Declaration of Independence--the
height of colonial eloquence--was based on drowning out opposing views?
What the hell are you talking about? Rhetorical brilliance is not "drowning
out" opposition nor is it "shouting down" opposition.
Nor was the Declaration merely eloquent; it was an elegant display of
logic. I never saw you miss the point so completely.
It's as if Clinton lunged at the line and passed the poison snake-baton
to Obama... And he is off! Health care is a mess. We all know this to
be true. Doctors and patients remain slaves in its grasp. Our current
system boils and festers in our hands, but it is a rash that we all
recognize, so we embrace. We lie fetal in its wake.
It kind of reminds me of the outrage that accompanied the introduction
of Medicare. It was the end of the world back then too.
Once again you are on the mark. (LAST TEMPTATION OF OBAMA -- Issue:
8/26/09) This is the progressives' last stand. Gettysburg indeed. Obama
must stand up for what he was elected to do; crush the special interests,
dissect these bloated, evil insurance conglomerates, and represent the
people for a change.
Knowing the idiots who have to make the laws ultimately, I have my doubts.
Have there been any successful presidents, on the topic of reform, taxation,
spending... don't they all look bad when viewed from some given angle
Love it or hate it, you are absolutely right that the health reform
legislation is the pivotal moment of the modern progressive, or liberal,
movement. But in your analogy, is President Obama cast as General Meade...or
You are right to point out that the Reagan myth survived and grew despite
his first two years or so of economic floundering and tax cut flip-flopping
(not to mention Ollie North and Iran-Contra later). It was the full
eight years of his tenure that resounded for all time, good or bad.
So, to compare this current healthcare debate in Obama's first year
of office to Gettysburg is off the mark. A defeat would be more akin
to the First Battle of Bull Run (or Manassas, as our Southern Friends
prefer), where all the confidence and supposed superiority of the Yanks
was squashed quickly and unexpectedly, leading to years of doubt and
deadlock. By the time Gettysburg happened, the tide had turned, and
the South was reduced to trying a Hail Mary Northern incursion that
ultimately doomed them to total defeat. Obama's Gettysburg can only
occur IF he loses the debate now and gets another shot later.
With so much time left on the game clock, even an Obama legislative
win on healthcare is no guarantee of success, since it has been stated
many times that the final plan will be subject to tweaks and adjustments
that could offer many changes. As it stands, the program might not even
be offered up until Term #2 of the Obama Presidency, so pundits like
ourselves will have to wait a while to pass final judgment.
Hoo boy, you have
to learn some history. Gettysburg was the "high water mark"
of the Confederacy. The Union was hardly considered an unstoppable force.
The Union was changing Generals faster than Steinbrenner changed managers.
Add on to that, Union defeat after defeat at the hands of the more skilled
Learn history before making analogies based on it. Waterloo was truly
more applicable. Stimulus, Cap and Trade, Sotomayor....how many more
victories did Obama need?
The One screwed up, listened to the left about his "mandate"
and now you have Democrats saying this blunder will cost them at least
20 seats in the House in 2010.
Oh and give credit where credit is due. This was not a Republican victory
over healthcare...this was pure conservatism provided by pure conservative
Ah, yes. Finally,
in a landscape of pundit nuisances with nary a scintilla of debating
acumen, we have a commentator with a grasp of history and perspective.
This is why I read this column; this is why after so many times of being
pissed off and wanting to turn away, I come back again and again; because
you get it. And so many times (with the rare exception of this time)
I disagree. But you never disappoint with your rare and insightful knowledge
of how things have progressed over the decades. When everyone is wailing
like hyenas you are cutting through the din and offering up the most
astute deconstruction of our system and its history.
Absolutely the idea that after eight months this health debate will
be President Obama's Waterloo is laughable. This comes from people who
are entitled perhaps to their opinions, however inane and goofy they
sound, but not their facts. It is without question true that Gettysburg
turned the tide in the favor of the Union. Until then the screw-ups
of the generals (perhaps the screw-ups of Nancy Pelosi -- your favorite
whipping gal -- and the congress?) and the shrewd duck and cover of
Lee's Army (could they be the wounded and out-manned Republicans trying
to stay politically relevant in a tide of sweeping change?) dragged
the war on until it seemed that people would loose their stomach for
more bloodshed (could it be the American people -- specifically the
Independents who are leaving Obama by the droves as this gets uglier
and seems less sensible and even less likely to occur?).
Because of these incredibly astute metaphors and their powerful punch,
this is one of your most striking columns, a hard pill to swallow for
the Left and an even sillier picture of the Right to turn away from.
It is why I keep reading James Campion.
F. Donald Braxton
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