“Scheduling clash”

Republican disrespect and African-American voters.

Some guy  in the comments on Andy Sabl’s great 17C post (thou scratchest my back, I shall scratch thine):

Many African-Americans knocked on doors and voted for Obama because of the colour of his skin. Obama … was the first man in American history who had a chance of showing that a black person could occupy the highest office in the Republic with dignity and professionalism. This group of supporters have no reason to be disappointed.

Identification cuts both ways. As Josh Marshall says, apropos of Boehner’s “scheduling clash” over the jobs speech :

African-Americans are especially sensitive to the unprecedented disrespect that white Republicans have afforded to the first black President.

Is this really clever politics for the GOP? They’ve written off black voters, and are playing (consciously or not) to the white racists in their own base. But Obama’s big reelection problem isn’t his policies or his person, which remain popular; it’s the loss of enthusiasm of those who got the vote out for him in 2008. (Just read the comment threads here. The gamut of progressive opinion runs all the way from “he’s better than Romney or Perry, and ACA was a decent result in the circs” to “I’m not voting for this wimp and sellout”.)

Making any part of the splintered base really angry is good news for him and his party. May I suggest Republicans start addressing the President as “boy” or “Sambo”, and referring to his daughters as “charming piccaninnies”?

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web

26 thoughts on ““Scheduling clash””

  1. There is some tendency for liberals of my acquaintance to jump too quickly to racism as an explanation. I’ve argued many times that the GOP’s hatred and lack of respect for Obama can be seen as being on a trajectory we should recall from the Clinton administration. However, their disrespect has become so aggressive and almost casually contemptuous that I just don’t know anymore. I began to wonder after the “you lie” incident…schedulegate makes me even more wondery… Whether it’s racism or not, it’s deplorable…nauseating, in fact.

  2. The unprecedented disrespect of not letting him deliberately schedule a joint address to Congress during their Presidential debate? I realize that you’re fully capable of rationalizing anything short of Republicans conceding the election as an affront to the office motivated by racism, but really? This all you got?

  3. Why do you think it’s okay for you to use remarkably offensive words for the President and his daughters? Because you are hypothesizing them into the mouths of imaginary Republicans? It looks to me that the Reeps are playing tough politics with the guy and that he is not very nimble in his responses. I don’t think you have to put racism into the picture – I think this guy is the second coming of Jimmy Carter and that today’s Reeps would have just as rough a response to Carter as they have to Obama (‘..ain’t beanball’). The Reeps have no reason to write off black voters, Obama support from black voters, last I read, was down from mid-nineties to low eighties. That’s an enormous positive for the Reeps, and could well give them victory in ’12.

  4. Wimp and sellout. You got that right!
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0911/62586.html
    This is an action that will earn Obama precisely no support from those who think pissing in their own well is just fine, as long as they can buy bottled water, but will further weaken his support among those of us who put him where he is. Note that an intransigent and lunatic GOP had nothing significant to do with this particular executive branch decision.

  5. “Obama support from black voters, last I read, was down from mid-nineties to low eighties.”

    To be fair, the Democratic party has gotten so reliant on getting essentially every last black vote, that only getting most of them really is something of an existential emergency. So I suppose hysterical accusations of racism are only to be expected under the circumstances. Though, come to think of it, hysterical accusations of racism are such a constant, you don’t need to explain them by reference to recent events. If a bird farts, you accuse Republicans of racism.

    Problem is, who’s listening anymore?

  6. To be fair, the Democratic party has gotten so reliant on getting essentially every last black vote, that only getting most of them really is something of an existential emergency.

    Yes, to be fair. And Brett Bellmore can say this with greater metaphysical certitude than he can about whether Obama was born in these united states.

  7. You want to complain about racism, go talk to the dude using terms like “Sambo” and “piccaninnies”. Try to stop confusing imagining your foes to be racists, with demonstrating that they are.

  8. Brett, *you* are the guy who went from 100% confident assertion of fact to pseudo-philisophocal musing about inability to be certain.

    In addition:
    “The unprecedented disrespect of not letting him deliberately schedule a joint address to Congress during their Presidential debate?”

    First, yes – refusing the President here is in fact unprecedented and second, it’s during *one of twenty* scheduled debates.

  9. If refusing the President is unprecedented, it’s because Presidents generally don’t so blatantly abuse the privilege for partisan purposes. And you hit the key word: Scheduled. Obama knew in advance when it was going to be, and scheduled to conflict with it anyway.

  10. @brett–try to stop confusing “imagining your foes to be racist” with simply wishing they’d show their private racism starkly in their public utterances.

  11. Here’s a clue: If you have to wish there were evidence for your prejudices, they’re probably not all that firmly based in reality.

  12. Brett Bellmore says:

    “If refusing the President is unprecedented, it’s because Presidents generally don’t so blatantly abuse the privilege for partisan purposes. ”

    For which assertion you offer your standard level of proof.

    “And you hit the key word: Scheduled. Obama knew in advance when it was going to be, and scheduled to conflict with it anyway.”

    Lie – I hit the key phrase, which was ‘one of twenty’.

  13. Obama will never, ever, no matter what he does, under any circumstances, get the Bellmore vote. So the Bellmore opinion of Obama is an amusing diversion and nothing more. Whether it’s motivated by racism, or coherent principle, or partisanship, or wisdom, Brett’s opinion is (I am convinced) totally sincere.

    Contrast Brett with Fat Tony, the elaborately courteous mafioso character in The Simpsons. The basic joke behind the character is that he may break your head, stuff you in a sack, and throw you in the river, but he will say “Pardon me” first and “Thank you” afterward, so he cannot (in his own mind) be accused of rudeness. The form of his behavior, not its substance, is what he judges himself by. The joke works precisely because of Fat Tony’s sincerity.

    I say “contrast Brett” rather than “compare Brett” to Fat Tony, because I really can’t bring myself to imagine the same degree of self-obliviousness in Brett as in a comic cartoon character. I simply want to make the point that neither sincerity nor formal courtesy preclude a real racism or a real rudeness.

    A couple of years ago, some Justice of the Peace (in Louisiana, I think) had to resign because he refused to marry an inter-racial couple explicitly because they were inter-racial. He nevertheless proclaimed “I am not a racist”. No doubt he sincerely believed that — perhaps because he declined to officiate with all politeness and courtesy, never once using the word “pickaninny”. To me, that guy was as laughable as Fat Tony. Maybe to Brett, also.

    –TP

  14. Brett: I wrote “They [the GOP]….are playing (consciously or not) to the white racists in their own base.” This does not state or suggest that all Republicans are racists. Some are; that’s a matter of fact not opinion. Look at some of the teabagger placards here. (Other placards are merely deranged.) If you think Josh Marshall is wrong about African-American perceptions of GOP slights to President Obama, cite some evidence, such as a respected African-American commentator or politician who assures us that it’s nothing more than the rough-and-tumble of electoral politics.

    Some commentators find my language of piccaninnies &c shocking. It was meant to be. Isn’t this vile talk what African-Americans hear behind Boehner’s and Cantor’s nods and winks?

    No worse than the treatment of Clinton? Spare me. Bill Clinton did give objective cause for criticism in his sleazy personal life, though the hatred of the Clintons – especially Hillary – had a hysterical aspect that went beyond a normal contempt or political calculation. (I wouldn’t rule out racism; racial equality is one of the Clintons’ few firm convictions, so they could be seen as race traitors.) The Obamas’ personal life seems impeccable; there’s something more here to the hatred than just the generic crime of “governing while Democrat”.

  15. I don’t think your language is shocking, I think it’s odious. Your remark here is interesting: you say “.. cite some evidence, such as a respected African-American commentator or politician who assures us that it’s nothing more than the rough-and-tumble of electoral politics…” which suggests that only an AA person can weigh in on this with knowledge, but then you say “.. Isn’t this vile talk what African-Americans hear behind Boehner’s and Cantor’s nods and winks?..” which suggest that you have some special ability to divine the views of AA people.

    Both parties have nutballs and freaks, who sometimes spill into public discourse. Are you eager to take responsibility for Cynthia McKinney? Dennis Kucinich? Alan Grayson?

  16. @dave schutz–i don’t know about mr. wimberly but i’d be eager to admit my support for people like kucinich or grayson. without claiming to agree with either of them on all issues i CAN claim to be proud of people who are unabashed liberals and willing to be as tough as the conservative radicals they oppose.

    as has been pointed out here and in other venues, one major difference between the two parties is that while the democrats tend to run away from their left-most fringe, the republicans cater to their right-most fringe. show me where any of the more extreme positions of kucinich or even sanders have been taken up by democratic party leaders the way the republicans have taken up the views of bachmann, perry, et al. i mean that, i need some encouragement about my party and it would help me feel better about it to know that they had done so.

  17. Here’s the puzzle on the table, as I understand it: in my lifetime, however much the parties disagreed with each other, and however little one party respected another party’s president, they always managed to maintain a certain reasonably high minimal level of decorum. Even when an unqualified B-movie actor was elected by the GOP, the Dems maintained said minimum decorum level. It was maintained even as Bush ’41 drove the country into a ditch. But the GOP is now *extremely* contemptuous of a demonstrably intelligent and competent Democratic president who is largely centrist and committed to compromise. This seems to cry out of an explanation. I would bet on the radicalization of the GOP, because this seems to me to be a similar in kind, if not in degree to the insanity that was directed at Clinton. So, one hypothesis: the GOP has just gotten worse in the last 8 years. On the other hand, there is the anomalous hatred Republicans manifested for HRC…so a racism/sexism hypothesis also probably ought to be in play. I have to say, after the puerile Joe Wilson/”you lie” nonsense, I have begun to take the racism hypothesis more seriously. But I can’t think of a good test of the respective hypotheses. Perhaps if the Dems win in ’16 with a white candidate, and Republican hatred of the president calms down, that would be some evidence for the racism hypothesis; it it ratchets up another notch (though God knows what that would be like), it would provide disconfirmation.

    It may be a combination of things. As someone (like many people here, no doubt) with the basic demeanor, values, interests and manner of speaking of Obama, I can tell you that it’s come to seem to me that much of the GOP hates *this type of person*–me and people like me. They like tough-talking types, ostentatiously military or cowboy, and “plain-spoken” Palin types, and the overtly religious. So it could just be Obama’s *type* they hate…though I have to say, it seems more and more to me that more than a few folks across the aisle hate that type more when it’s instantiated in a black person. I hope it’s not true, but I can’t rule it out as unequivocally as I’d like to be able to.

  18. Hm, could it be that, prior to being elected President, the “B-movie actor” was a two-term governor of the state of California? I mean, I’m sure that, at some time, Obama might have worked mowing lawns, or making fries, or something like that, but you wouldn’t, if at all serious, refer to the Democratic party as having elected an “unqualified fry cook”. It’s bad enough you elected a part-term junior Senator with no executive branch experience, and a habit of voting “present”, but one doesn’t have to lie about a President’s qualifications by omission. Being governor of a large state is certainly relevant experience.

    I’d say that inter-party relations have been poisoned by Florida 2000.

  19. Dave Shultz: “Both parties have nutballs and freaks, who sometimes spill into public discourse. Are you eager to take responsibility for Cynthia McKinney? Dennis Kucinich? Alan Grayson?”

    None of whom are party leadership (disregarding whether or not they are nutballs and freaks).

    Anything more honest?

  20. It is funny that, on one hand, Brett will complain about the Republican party as if he were a disenchanted outsider, and then later repeat partisan Republican talking points without question. Sure you may disagree with Obama’s policies. But to complain 2 years into his presidency that he is inexperienced is to repeat a silly taking point from 2008. I mean George H W Bush was not a governor but I dont hear him complaining and senator McCain was never an executive but I don’t see any comparisons between McCain and a fry cook.

    Sometimes I wonder if this Belmore handle is being used by a few conservative pundits who don’t always agree.

  21. But, Benny, I didn’t vote for McCain. Bush the Younger was the first Republican presidential candidate who got my vote, because by that time the LP had become such a joke, and he did a pretty fair job of proving to me that they “evil” in “lesser of two evils” wasn’t a metaphor. McCain, worse by every measure, sure wouldn’t have tempted me.

    It’s still up in the air whether the GOP will manage to barf up a candidate I can stomach voting for, or whether I’ll cast another purely symbolic protest vote for the LP again.

    “But to complain 2 years into his presidency that he is inexperienced ”

    You’re right. At this point the proper complaint is that he’s incompetent, not, inexperienced. Just pointing out that, when he ran for President, Reagan had about 10,000 times more relevant experience than Obama, and hadn’t been a “B movie actor” for many years.

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