Who you calling a boy?
If we didn’t hear him right the first time, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan said it again. He repeatedly referred to President Barack Obama as a “boy” on national television.
Without so much as a whiff of hesitation, and even after being admonished by none other than Reverend Al Sharpton, Buchanan refused to apologize or even acknowledge his mistake. Instead, he answered Sharpton’s instant rebuke with a laugh. In fact, he chuckled. And then he said it again.
Not only is President Obama hours away from his 50th birthday, he is today, and will be tomorrow, president of these United States — still the most economically and politically powerful democracy in the world. While we do not always agree with his policy positions and even take issue with his politics, he is the president — our president. Duly elected by voters from sea to shining sea in 2008, he now calls 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home.
But it would not matter if he lived in a tony, gated suburb, in a card box under a bridge or off of MLK Drive. He still is a man. A grown man.
WATCH PAT BUCHANAN INTERVIEWED BY REV. AL SHARPTON HERE:
As even Buchanan will attest, there was something incredible about the 2008 presidential campaign. There was a great “coming together” this country had never witnessed before. Then Senator Obama told us we were “not as divided as our politics suggest.” He turned a deaf ear to those who shouted that he was a “socialist” and a “closet Muslim”, as if to say “we’re better than that.” And, if for only one day, we were.
No sooner than the moving truck backed away from the White House, the mood changed in maddening ways. Suddenly, it was okay to call the president a liar from the House floor during the State of the Union address.
Many presidents have suffered verbal assaults. Since the age of Richard Nixon, Americans (and some would say the men who lived there) have held the office in diminishing regard. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Bob Woodward wrote about the impact of the Nixon legacy in his 1999 book Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate. Although even Woodward, I suspect, could not have fathomed the times we live in today. In the age of citizen journalism, fueled by the advent of social media, almost anyone with a keyboard and an Internet connection can say almost anything about the president with little, if any, penalty.
Bill Clinton was called a rapist on fringe websites and on radio talk shows. George Bush was widely heralded an idiot in casual conversation. However, never before (at least before we had an African-American in the White House) have we witnessed this level of poor judgment and, in some cases, blatant racism in the so-called mainstream media.In recent weeks, TIME magazine editor-at-large Mark Halperin was placed on unpaid leave after calling the president a “d**k” on Morning Joe. It is no small irony that Buchanan would unleash his backwoods, Jim Crow-era insults on the very day Halperin was reinstated.
Just as with Halperin, we’ve been down this road with Buchanan before. Some wonder aloud why he is allowed to continue to peddle his oft-times hateful positions on the open airwaves. After all, it was Buchanan who has defended Norway terrorist Anders Breivik, saying that while his actions were heinous, his cultural analysis “may be right.” Buchanan, a close advisor to three U.S. presidents, even said Adolf Hitler was “an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier… [and] a political organizer of the first rank.”
Who let him into the White House?
Buchanan doesn’t need a history lesson to know the vile and disturbing legacy of referring to African American men as “boys”. He doesn’t need me to tell him that it was customary to keep Black men in their “place” so as not to incite any crazy ideas about equality. My own grandfather was run out of Tunica, Mississippi 1932 with the threat of hanging when he didn’t show the proper deference to a white customer at the Massengale Pharmacy where he worked. My grandfather, who’s given name was Joseph, was routinely called “son” by his boss and the other white men in town. Back then he accepted that—because he had to.
Times have indeed change. Back in Grandpa Joe’s day, he had a better chance of taking a ride on a space ship than seeing a black man elected president. Barack Obama was born 18 years after my grandfather died.
Somewhere along the way, as a nation, we seem to have lost of our sense of collective grace. My mama would call it “home training” and it seems we don’t have any.
Buchanan has long been written off as “old timer”, sort of like the guy next door who paces his backyard at night howling at the moon. His antics would be entertaining if they weren’t so destructive to the public discourse. And his latest rant? Well, it’s downright racist. He knows it. And so do we.
It’s Mr. President to you.