Is Democratic Opposition to Obama Also Racial?
Republican disagreement with the president on policies is often labeled racist. What do you call it when Democrats oppose the first significant bipartisan compromise so vigorously that one of them even tosses the f-word at the president?
And although many would state that the divide is merely about policy differences -- the same reasons that keep the hard right and President Obama frosty in their interactions -- more congressional Democrats are showing questionable methodology in criticizing and addressing Obama. From a societal standpoint, it increasingly resembles the sentiment that most Democrats express toward black Republicans: that the power players within the party will use a charismatic and influential African-American politician for selfish gain, but will toss him away once the last ounce of usefulness is gone.
Considering that noted Democrats such as Nevada's Sen. Harry Reid (famed for his "Negro dialect" comment) and former President Bill Clinton (you'll recall his comment to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy about Obama serving coffee) have made rather disrespectful comments about the president in recent times, we should not wonder much about why the level of angst and condescending tone is now rising after key Democrat losses in November and the president's much-needed compromise, particularly since Democrats do not have the votes to pass legislation without Republican cooperation.
Although the 2008 presidential primary is a distant memory, it was not that long ago that key Democratic partisans were unpleasantly surprised by a young, educated black newcomer who came onto the scene to steal a nomination from consensus choice Hillary Clinton and went on to win the White House. Is it that much of a stretch to suggest that those lingering feelings from 2008 -- some racial, some not -- are playing a part in the rhetoric we are hearing from the left today?
And why are we so willing to chalk up Democratic frustration to differences of opinion, even when we have evidence that suggests other factors? If Democrats are capable of having philosophical differences with Obama, then why is it so hard to believe that Republicans can do the same without race being a factor?
Or, perhaps, is race an issue -- at some level -- with both parties? After all, there has never been a black U.S. president before, and since racism knows no boundaries, maybe the underlying frustrations permeate -- and eventually rear their ugly heads on -- both sides of the aisle, even if others are unwilling to admit it.
If this is true, then the racism of "the New Jim Crow" is stronger than some would like to believe in the 21st century, and furthermore, it can supersede even partisan politics. If so, it is a lesson that President Obama is learning the hard way in Washington.
Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator and the host of the morning radio show Launching Chicago With Lenny McAllister on WVON, The Talk of Chicago 1690 AM. He is the author of an upcoming edition of the book The Obama Era, Part I (2008-2010): Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative). Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.