Thursday, July 22, 2010

Obama’s Demagogues: We are watching you

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 7/22/10

Say what you like about America’s new Prince Andrei, “Mad Men”’s Don Draper, but he knows right from wrong. He chooses wrong because it if fun, because it burns through the mediocrity, because he is still a young man, but he knows. What a difference in America since the caps went on backwards. James Taranto’s description in the Wall Street Journal (“’Call them racists’”) of the journalists who conspired to peg the Obama opposition as racist shows a broody lot which makes no distinction. Like Pirandello’s six actors in search of an author, this group, more than six, appears to be in search of a police state. Obama is not their man. But it reveals something fairly ugly about race in America that these mainly white “journolists” – demagogues - would think that he would be. And Don Draper can write a clear and simple declarative sentence.

Obama has always been a better man than the people around him. But he does share the blame. This presidency, which understands neither decorum nor public relations, tripped up this time when Obama stood shoulder to shoulder with a Mexican president in opposition to a sitting American governor. It gathered speed when Michelle Obama (I am my husband’s sharp tongue!) was dispatched to egg on the NAACP and its message to those Tea Partiers, understood in heartland America to mean white people: We are watching you.

This has been the theme from the very beginning. When Hillary Clinton went up just a tick briefly against Obama in the primary, messages came immediately to my in box: See, America is too racist to elect a black president.

America is racist. America is racist. America is racist. That is the message of the demagogue bloggers and publicists Taranto describes. Stay on point.

Apparently not, but I was sure then that this would be the fall back position. The demagogues would be sent out as they have been and gather together for the unified message: White Americans are racists. But demagoguery as a defense is always a last resort.

Taranto writes: “Most damning is a long quote from a Spencer Ackerman, who worked for something called the Washington Independent: ‘I do not endorse a Popular Front, nor do I think you need to. It's not necessary to jump to Wright-qua-Wright's defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger's [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.’”

Taranto’s account of this conspiracy of liberal journalists constitutes a RICO-like pattern of racketeering. But race is today a card that no longer works, because America doesn’t care what they think.

Obama trips annually; now with Shirley Sherrod, last year with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Both times, wrong on the facts. Because America, black and white when you get out of New York and Chicago and Washington, D.C., knows itself better than Obama knows America. Don Drapper seems to as well. And Drapper’s world today and in the 1950s is much like Prince Andrei’s when Tolstoi created him: Accountability would come. The end was already in sight.

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