Streetwise Professor

January 19, 2014

The Last Refuge of the Demagogic Scoundrel

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 4:55 pm

Obama’s approval rating has plummeted, to Bush 2006 levels.  So, of course, the reason must be . . . what, exactly?  The utter Obamacare fail? Nope. A foreign policy that only the Keystone Kops could love? Nope. A stagnant economy? Nope.

Come on, dummy.  There is only one possible answer. ONE!: RACISM!!!!

Note that Obama’s approval rating has fallen more than 20 percent since his re-election  So is he suggesting that in the past year 20 percent of Americans have all of a sudden decided that they just can’t abide the idea of a black guy as president? Because to be logically consistent, and consistent with the data, that would have to be the claim.  This is about the delta, not the level.

A claim that would require that attitudes towards race be highly fluid, whereas in fact they are, for better or worse, pretty much fixed in any individual, and if they change, they change slowly (alas).

The far more reasonable explanation is that piss poor performance (but I understate) is finally overcoming the goodwill–much of it based on a fervent desire for a black president to succeed–that Obama has benefited from for years.

I know that these racial theories of opposition to Obama are in the blood of those that inhabit the fever swamps of the left, like some sort of ideological malaria: they are convinced that only a racist could disapprove of Obama.  But a president has to transcend the insanity of his most rabid supporters.  Indeed, it is quite a testament to Obama’s character, and his political desperation, that he feels compelled to dog whistle to the rabid, and has no problems in doing so.

Race is such a divisive and polarizing issue that a president should do everything possible to downplay, rather than emphasize, racial divisions.  He should certainly not attempt to exploit race for petty political purposes, or to excuse his political and policy failures.  Racial appeals are more befitting a Jim Crow-era Southern politician than a Lincoln, to whom Obama has compared himself.

Racial appeals are the last refuge of the demagogic scoundrel.  They are the last thing we need now.  A man of honor who put the country’s interests above his own would eschew such appeals.  Indeed, he would chastise his supporters for making such arguments.

But we are talking about Obama, aren’t we?

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  1. “Racism to blame for drop in my approval ratings, says guy with 98% approval ratings from African-Americans” — @iowahawkblog

    Comment by Busta Move — January 19, 2014 @ 8:04 pm

  2. So are you suggesting that race has no part to play at all? Are you suggesting that congress has been gridlocked on passing bills and confirming appointments (at a level which is unprecedented) strictly because they are bad bills or appointments? That would effect the President’s performance would it not? (which would in turn effect his approval ratings)
    If you don’t talk about racism, it doesn’t disappear.
    I’m not saying people don’t like Obama solely because he is black. But it does have a part to play, and acknowledging that fact (that it plays a part) is simply being honest.

    Comment by OTW — January 20, 2014 @ 7:11 am

  3. This is a variant of the old modified George Washington: “I cannot tell a lie, he did it!” This works psychologically on so many levels: a fabulist creates fantasies to justify himself, an ego maniac finds enemies, a politician deflects criticism through ad hominem attacks, and the narcissist plays with a racist Gotterdammerung.

    Barry never fails to disappoint.

    Comment by Sotos — January 20, 2014 @ 8:49 am

  4. @ OTW

    So you’re saying that people who didn’t mind Obama being black before now do?

    Comment by Green as Grass — January 21, 2014 @ 8:06 am

  5. @Green-exactly. That’s what I meant about the delta.

    @OTW-no, I don’t believe that Obama’s race is driving Republican Congressional opposition to Obama’s legislative agenda. House Republicans opposed Clinton vehemently. Congressional Democrats opposed Bush vehemently. This is what partisanship is about. It’s driven by ideology and the will for power.

    Not talking about racism doesn’t make it going away. But talking about it in a partisan way, using it as a dog whistle, can make it worse. That was my point, clearly.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 21, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

  6. Of course the opposition has always been there, that is why they are Republican. But the LEVEL of opposition, the reasoning for opposing bills and appointments, and the disfunction of Congress and the Senate are at levels unseen before Obama’s presidency. How many bills were passed last year? They hadnt agreed a budget for years! A spending budget for the government of largest economy in the world!
    That is simply due to his policies?
    I could find numerous articles of congressmen and senators using racist rhetoric against Obama. I’m sure you could too, if it mattered to you. Apparently the President is only allowed to talk about race under circumstances you deem fit.
    The Tea Party isn’t racist? The Tea Party doesn’t dominate the Republican agenda?
    We didn’t have the ‘birther’ movement? That never happened?
    All I’m saying is that it plays a part in the Presidents effectiveness in leadership. And would effect, in whatever way, his approval rating (which is based on his perceived performance).

    Comment by OTW — January 22, 2014 @ 7:42 am

  7. OTW

    And it’s suddenly changed?

    Comment by Green as Grass — January 22, 2014 @ 10:39 am

  8. I happen to agree that racism is partly responsible for his decline in popularity. It is Obama’s racism that has lead to the decline. How can someone so often refer to race and not be a racist by definition.

    Comment by pahoben — January 22, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

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