Republicans’ fear of a black president reaches new heights

OPINION - The deceitful lies and illogical rants that drive the GOP right now are simply mind-boggling...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

There was a time when I thought that Barack Obama and Tiger Woods were “Teflon Negroes”: men with the ability to transcend race in a way that makes the rest of us look silly and small-minded. Obama’s success in the 2008 presidential election almost made me wonder if I was the only one who couldn’t see the vision of a truly “post-racial” America. Unfortunately, 2009 brought a new set of realities, and one can only wonder if ignoring blatant racial humiliation (as Tiger and Barack have done) is ever a productive long-term strategy, whether on the golf course or in the White House.

The Republicans have amazed me with how well they’ve risen to the occasion of finding creative and unethical ways to undermine a black man in power. Not that their viewpoints don’t have elements of legitimacy, it’s just that there are times when I wonder if there are far too many members of the right wing who’ve simply let go of any desire to remain connected to that little thing called “reality.” The deceitful lies and illogical rants that drive the emotions of the party right now are simply mind-boggling.

A recent poll by Daily Kos Research 2000 out some disturbing data about the Republican paranoia surrounding President Obama. I won’t try to give you an overview of the key results, I’ll just let you read them for yourself:

39 percent of Republicans believe Obama should be impeached, 29 percent are not sure, 32 percent said he should not be voted out of office.

36 percent of Republicans believe Obama was not born in the United States, 22 percent are not sure, 42 percent think he is a natural citizen.

31 percent of Republicans believe Obama is a “racist who hates white people” — the description once adopted by Fox News’s Glenn Beck. 33 percent were not sure, and 36 percent said he was not a racist.

63 percent of Republicans think Obama is a socialist, 16 percent are not sure, 21 percent say he is not.

24 percent of Republicans believe Obama wants “the terrorists to win,” 33 percent aren’t sure, 43 percent said he did not want the terrorist to win.

21 percent of Republicans believe ACORN stole the 2008 election, 55 percent are not sure, 24 percent said the community organizing group did not steal the election.

23 percent of Republicans believe that their state should secede from the United States, 19 percent aren’t sure, 58 percent said no.

53 percent of Republicans said they believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Obama.

Ok, let’s start from the beginning. I confess that I’ve never heard of Daily Kos/Research 2000, and you probably haven’t heard of them either. It appears that, based on their website, they go out of their way to present legitimate statistical results. Personally, I could not help but to be skeptical about the fact that Daily Kos is known for being a left-leaning website to begin with, but that doesn’t mean that their results are not as accurate as any other poll. Truth be told, I’d love to see the results replicated by pollsters who appear to be a bit more neutral.

With that said, the Daily Kos 2000 poll results are not completely inconsistent with what the rest of us have been witnessing over the past several months. The Republicans are more determined than ever to obstruct the progress of the United States government. By using half truths and leveraging racial distrust to slow our nation’s ability to pass critical legislation, the Republicans have become the Axis of Ignorance, engaging in some of the most unpatriotic and uncivilized behavior we’ve witnessed in modern-day American politics.

But while we must hold the Republicans accountable for their collective temper tantrum, it might make sense to go to the root of it all. The partisan divide in Washington, while expected, didn’t necessarily have to happen. One can wonder if Democratic post-election euphoria didn’t transform into left-wing arrogance and irrational expectations, reflected by the self-serving antics of Democrats who were able to take advantage of Republican defiance.

Senator Ben Nelson is the first name that comes to mind, given his move to get the rest of the nation to pay for Medicaid costs for the state of Nebraska as a condition for his signing onto the Democrats’ health care plan. There is also the fact that some might wonder if President Obama’s rhetoric about reaching across the aisle should have been replaced by a greater commitment to actually mobilizing and unifying Democrats in the same manner as Republicans. The liberals who loved him a year ago are hardly inspired by him now, and Democrats don’t seem as synchronized in standing by the president as Republicans are in jointly defying him.

Some may not have noticed, but Obama’s massive backlash gained a great deal of momentum when his push for health care was briefly upstaged by a little spat between a police officer and a professor last summer. Many don’t connect the Henry Louis Gates incident with the tea parties and the borderline racism Obama faces today, but we must recall that after “Gates-gate”, Obama immediately lost 7 percent of his white support. Additionally, Obama’s Gallup poll disapproval rating rose by 5 percent during the week and half that the scandal took place. The idea that a third of the Republicans in the Daily Kos 2000 poll consider Obama to be a racist is a reminder that even the subtlest alignment with African-Americans is going to result in severe attacks from a right wing being driven by intellectual rodents. What’s even more disheartening for Obama is that while the Republicans are calling him a racist, many African-Americans are calling him a sell-out. Sometimes, when you straddle the fence, you just get cut by the barb wire in uncomfortable places.

I am not sure how President Obama is going to get out of this one. The natural improvement in the business cycle is going to work in Obama’s favor in 2010, as he will find himself well-positioned to take credit for the new jobs that will be created as a result. If he can get a jobs bill passed (which the Republicans are likely going to do all they can to stop), this might serve the president well. The greatest problem for President Obama right now is that it has become stylish for Republicans to defy him, and any moderate Republican who jumps ship to support the president’s initiatives will find himself/herself at serious risk of losing their political seat. The moves by Republicans are no longer being driven by policy—they are being driven by emotion and ideology. They are more like an uneducated cult than a political party, which is a dangerous thing.