There should come a point in a politician’s career when they learn to abandon knee jerk reactions in order to make more credible statements that might actually advance their causes.
Unfortunately, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) has yet to reach such a political epiphany. The Houstonian took to the House floor on Friday and openly opined on what she thinks is the main culprit behind largely Republican obstruction in the debt ceiling debate.
The congresswoman said, “I am particularly sensitive to the fact that only this president — only this one, only this one — has received the kind of attacks and disagreement and inability to work, only this one.” She asked that her colleagues “read between the lines.”
Not that they needed to, given she did so for them.
“Why is he different?” She asked before adding, “and in my community, that is the question that we raise. In the minority community that is question that is being raised. Why is this president being treated so disrespectfully?”
She also highlighted Sen. McConnell’s (R-KY) comments that his job is to bring President Obama down in the next election.
Jackson Lee’s declaration that race is to blame for President Obama experiencing unmatched levels of political opposition is a notion many cling to. Strength in numbers may help spread such a belief, though that doesn’t necessarily lend credence to it. Jackson Lee and others with this opinion seem to have formed it via revisionist history, paranoia, and a dash of dramatics.
I do not completely discount the role race has played in President Obama’s career.
It’s evident in how a band of intellectually deficient conspiracy theorists successfully distracted news cycles from more pressing matters with their ridiculous claims that Barack Obama isn’t a U.S. citizen. If one ever needs to poke holes at the fairytale that is “post-racial America,” they needn’t look any further than that non-story.
But, is President Obama “the only one” to net ridiculous attacks? Moreover, would President Obama be as big a target if he were white? If there were any person to ask, it’s the last Democratic president.
In 2009, former President Clinton warned that President Obama would be the subject of intense levels of descent from Republicans during an appearance on Meet The Press. Host David Gregory harkened back to the days of Clinton’s presidency in which he was accused of supervising a drug-smuggling and money-laundering ring while he served as governor of Arkansas.
Clinton was also branded a mass murderer in the film The Clinton Chronicles, not to mention faced claims that he fathered an illegitimate child of color, and was a drug abuser.
When Clinton’s attorney general Janet Reno appointed an independent counsel to investigate select accusations what happened exactly? Oh, that’s right, Kenneth Starr started investigating all of these unrelated queries, which ultimately led to his impeachment over a lie about inappropriate relations with a White House intern.
Does the phrase “vast right wing conspiracy” ring a bell?
And as painful as it is to admit this, the president who followed Clinton wasn’t exactly treated with the greatest amount of respect either. President Bush’s intelligence was routinely questioned (count me in on this), and though Michael Moore may have had far more truths to work with than Patrick Matrisciana, both filmmakers released projects designed to take their targeted President of choice down.
The climate President Obama faces now is certainly contentious, but not nearly as venomous as what the last presidents endured. Yet anyway.
Yes, a Time magazine political analyst referring to President Obama as “a bit of a d**k” on national television is disrespectful. The same can be said of a congressman yelling, “You lie!” during the State of the Union. As can some of the other not so thinly veiled bigoted lines aimed at the first couple’s heads.
However, to say Obama has faced harsher attacks than any president in history is dishonest. To argue that Republicans have never fought accomplishment this hard is giving them way too much credit. Considering Jackson Lee’s first year in Congress was met with the government shutdown of 1995, she ought to know this.
I get it, Rep. Jackson Lee: Republicans are being jackasses. They’d be jackasses to any Democrat, though. Such is the standard now. To unnecessarily bring race into the debate now will only dissuade people from acknowledging far more legitimate claims of prejudice in the future.
So knock it off, Jackson Lee, and deal with your own charges of discrimination for the time being.