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There's a Facebook friend in my social network, from Denver, Colorado, a man of the Left, who insists that race isn't a factor with the Left's so-called disillusionment with the President.

I disagree.

Of course, race factors into the Left's perception of the President and his performance, as much - if not more, in a different way - than it does on the Right. It was always going to factor. If Hillary Clinton had won the nomination and the election, the question of gender and her response to certain situations based on the fact that she was a woman, would always be cause for comment and speculation. Certainly, Jack Kennedy's Catholicism and its adherence to the supremacy of Rome, was a mitigating factor for some during his brief Administration.

This is a seminal Presidency, the first time an African-American is Commander-in-Chief.

Having come of age during the Seventies, when the newly-born Progressives were driving the agendae of the Democratic Party with their quest for ensuring equality through Affirmative Action, I watched, often from the sidelines, when the first woman or the first African-American man (or woman) ascended to some post or position heretofore only inhabitable in the realms of the omnipotent white male. Suffice it to say, in each instance, that the performance standard was raised just enough, to ensure that the seminal appointment would either burn out in trying to achieve a success easily achievable by his or her white brethren, or fail. Few failed. Many achieved, but at a cost.

In those days, on the Right, you had administrators who hated the thought of having to compromise their sexism or racism (or both) and who could barely contain their disdain at having whom they considered to be lesser beings in positions of responsibility and authority. Those sorts were easily recogniseable.

Worse, were the supposedly enlightened people of the Left, the ones who went out of their way to refer to any female appointee as "Ms" or who made a great show of lunching with "the black guy" and showing friendly in the office - only to shake his head and tut-tut almost reprovingly each time the slightest error was made, often rolling his eyes as he glanced over his shoulder at the rest of the crew, the action wordlessly admitting, "See, I told you so. Have to show them everything."

And so they would hover. And explain. And assume. And breathe a sigh of relief when the woman or "the black guy" would move to a different department or job. Or he'd seethe silently, if such person deservedly got a promotion he had perceived to be his and his alone.

You can see this now.

We've been able to see it from the Right as far back as the Tea Party's inception in 2009. It was a poor masquerade to hide behind words like "socialist" or "communist" or "Marxist" or even "Nazi," especially when those words accompanied signs which depicted the President as an African tribal chief or a monkey.

But from the Left, it's revealed itself in stages and some subtely and by voices whom the media willingly identifies as "Progressive". Ah, but these voices made it abundantly obvious to the hoi polloi who hung on their every word, that their criticism of the President had everything to do with his "policy" and nothing to do with his race - which, of course, prompted that noted "policy" critic and Progressive, Glenn Greenwald, to begin almost immediately to refer to any of the President's supporters as "Obamalovers" and to use that phrase viciously and in such circumstances, that it wasn't difficult for anyone to realise that "Obamalover" was a euphemism for that timeworn old George Corley Wallace phrase of "n*ggerlover." Even Joan Walsh is using the same phrase with aplomb now, but Joan's racism is quickly becoming an open issue in many areas of the Left.

And as for Greenwald's Progressivism, this is the man who writes for the Koch-founded and funded Cato Institute. This is the man who openly embraces the Citizens United decision, who supports Gary Johnson for President of the United States, a man who wants child labor laws rescinded, who wants the Department of Education dismantled and the EPA finished. Yes, Greenwald, who doesn't vote and who never has, is an identifiable Progressive.

Ever since the beginning of this Administration, one of its most vociferous critics, Rush Limbaugh, hasn't been too good to bring race into the fray. He mocks the President and his family on this score from his radio pulpit on a regular basis, employing stereotypical voices and musical soundbytes. Rightwing personalities have created pictures of the White House lawn turned into a watermelon patch.

All of this is disgusting and openly racist and has been decried as such by people from the Left and by some on the Right who still retain a conscience and a modicum of common sense.

But what happens when this sort of thing emanates from the Left?

Well, then, it becomes comedy.

How is Bill Maher's repeated reference to the President as "President Sanford and Son" any different from Limbaugh's depiction as such, using the Sanford and Son music as a backdrop to his criticism? Fred Sanford, a comic figure, was the quintessential lazy and feckless black man, unable to come to terms with modern life, a bumbler, who witlessly called upon a higher power (his dead wife) whenever his luck ran out.

Rush can ride that pony with impunity. Such tastelessness is what is expected from someone who joked that he'd like to own an NFL franchise because he fancied owning some black men. But Bill Maher regularly identifies himself as a "Progressive." How does he tie in a Sanford depiction of a President whom, at various times when the political fashion dictates, he perceives to be weak? Why "President Sanford and Son" instead of "President Barney Fife," another bumbler and stumbler, who happened to be white?

Then there's the disappointment that the stereotype hasn't been fulfilled. Throughout the Gulf Crisis, Maher and his cronies screamed for the angry black man to emerge. Today's radical chic, many of whom were in middle school watching Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, still think of a black man as a cross between Clarence Williams III playing Linc in The Mod Squad and Stokely Carmichael; everybody else was either Flip Wilson, Bill Cosby or Diahann Carroll playing Julia.

Maybe this is why, during the summer of 2010, Maher whined during a monologue that when he voted for Obama, he thought he was voting for a real black man, a mothafucka gangsta who'd strike fear into the Cabinet by pounding the table with his fist, then opening his jacket to reveal a gun on his hip. Instead of "President Sanford and Son," we now get "President Clarence Carmichael" with a soupcon of Mister Tibbs. So Bill voted for John Shaft and got Cliff Huxtable, which subsequently allowed him - not once, but twice - to declare the President a "pussy" on national television, once on Fareed Zakaria's program in November 2010, and then on his own show some two weeks ago.

Mark Halperin describes the President as a "dick" and gets an indefinite suspension, and rightly so. Bill Maher calls the President a "pussy" and gets laughter.

Go figure.

Ah, but Bill's a comedian. He's a wannabe political pundit who's invited on any and all political opinion shows to talk politics, but when something like this occurs - hey, he's a comedian. It's for laughs, folks.

Like Jon Stewart, who's an acknowledged comedian, but whom people really do consider a newsman or a political pundit. So when Stewart, when satirizing African-American Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain, by using a voice straight from Amos'n Andy, is surprised when Cain considers this racist, I'm surprised that Stewart is surprised.

Herman Cain has a Southern accent - which, I presume, Stewart, who was educated in Virginia, is channelling. But I wonder how coincidental it is that Stewart's Southern accent, employed for his Cain satire, sounds suspiciously like that of Kingfish Stevens, who - like Fred Sanford - came to represent a feckless, less-than-honest and lazy portrayal of a black man?

I am not saying Stewart is racist or even knowingly so. With Maher, I have my doubts. He's too much the Left Coaster and also has too many Rightwing sympathies (death penalty, racial profiling, anti-union) and associations (Arianna Huffington, Darrell Issa, Bill Frist), that a thinly disguised veneer of racism wouldn't surprise me in the least.

And when this is the case amongst those whom we deem "our own" on the Left, we have to acknowledge our shortcomings too; because I've always perceived the Left to have the same problem with the Obama Presidency as Scarlett had with Prissy. Prissy was the recalcitrant slave who just wouldn't do what Miss Scarlett said until Miss Scarlett snapped and slapped her, which is what I get the impression the Professional Left and their sheeple would like to do with this recalcitrant President, who just doesn't do as they say when they say and how they say.

This attitude is summed up brilliantly by the blogger rootless_e, writing in The People's View about Paul Krugman's litany of disillusionment with the Obama Presidency (which Jonathan Alter in his book The Promise puts down to the fact that Krugman has been angling for a Cabinet post since 1992 and hasn't secured one):-

...I have no more patience for "progressives" who want to tell the President and the rest of us us what to say and how to talk - and that's the underlying substance of Professor Krugman's critique, the failure of the President to stick the script that the progressives have written. The President, however, is not Mr. Krugman's graduate assistant and he's not the errand boy.

It's as I've always said: The Right don't like the fact that there's a black man in the White House who isn't serving coffee, and the Left doesn't like the fact that there's a black man in the White House who's smarter than they are and who doesn't do what they order.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Many folks refused to face their truth. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elmar

      Hating policy is not racism. But some people dont know the difference, and some of us do.

      Paul Ryans budget is in fact a suicide note.

      by tdslf1 on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 10:52:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh do elaborate on where the policy is in (0+ / 0-)

        making reference to Sanford & Son.  And then saying one wanted a gangsta president.  Enlighten me, please.  Some times, especially when you are positioning yourself as being able to see that which others cannot, you might have to not go with the auto-pilot response.

        Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.--MLK, Jr.

        by conlakappa on Mon Jul 11, 2011 at 10:49:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What a wonderful post. (7+ / 0-)

    I've often said that racism is in the eye of the beholder.  I think that's self-evident.

    Thank you for this refreshingly well written piece.  I very much appreciate it.

    All I see is these fake fucks with no fangs tryin' to draw blood from my ice-cold veins. - Jay-Z

    by fou on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 08:50:28 AM PDT

  •  To give Maher credit, though, he also called (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fou, amk for obama, The Raven, mallyroyal

    the President a "steely black ninja" on the occasion of the death of bin Laden

    While Keith Ellison laughs along.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 08:54:45 AM PDT

    •  Ninja has a couple of uses in some sectors. (0+ / 0-)

      Are you familiar with both of them?  The term might well not mean what you think it means.

      Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.--MLK, Jr.

      by conlakappa on Mon Jul 11, 2011 at 10:51:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Racism is ugly, but criticism isn't always racism. (6+ / 0-)

    I know I have been guilty of racism, sexism, homophobia, and audism at various times in my life, and I am grateful to people along the way who have helped me recognize and (hopefully) overcome those attitudes. Biases like that can be insidious.

    That said, I'm tired of people equating criticism of the President's performance with racism. Obama has pursued bad policies in several areas. I would evaluate those policies in exactly the same way if the President was of a different gender, race, or whatever.

    The awful mismanagement of the economy, foreign policy, and environmental policy during the Bush era left our country and the world with some very big problems. The only way a leader -- any leader -- can be adequate to these times is to address those problems with bold actions. Obama hasn't. (And to be fair, the Democratic leadership in congress hasn't either.)

    This isn't a matter of me throwing a tantrum because Obama isn't ideologically the same as me. This is a case of observing problems going unaddressed under his watch, or seeing them becoming worse.

  •  What a huge stretch on your part (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egg

    You compare what Rush Limbaugh does, which, IMO is spew conservative propaganda with blatent racist and coded racist rants. Versus actual comedians, people who make their living telling jokes? Come on now.

    What a Bill mahr or a Jon stewart or a stephen corbert or lisa lanpernelli or a jeff ross or a howard stern  or Redd foxx or Richard Pryor or Dick gregory or lenny Bruce does is night and day different from a Rush Limbaugh or a Glen Beck for that matter.

    One group uses sterotype comedy to educate and promote social change. While the other group uses their racist diatribes to make their audience feel inclussive, part of their club.

    Here's a hypothetical, take anyone of the comedians off of my list and either one of the  two hatemedians I listed above and have them go do 30 minutes of their acts at a KU Klux Klan Komedy Klub and see which one's make it out alive. My money is on your Limbaugh/Beck type.

    I think most reasonable people would agree.

    I had to call Bullshit on your comparison.  

    Cheers

    "I love acting. It is so much more than real life." - Oscar Wilde

    by Farkletoo on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 09:46:47 AM PDT

    •  I don't think it's a stretch.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sberel

      I think the diarist is spot on...maybe it's different life experiences that gives the diarist more insight on this matter than yourself....

      •  More insight, No. Different insight. yes. (0+ / 0-)

        So every comedian that has told a joke about race, would be a racist? And every racist that has told a joke about race would be a comedian? Because that is the logic she is conveying, IMO. Which makes the rush limbaughs of the world a little less threatening because after all, it was only a joke.....

        "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." - President Merkin Muffley

        by Farkletoo on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 12:55:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I have to disagree with you on (0+ / 0-)

    Stewart. He actually did a show opening a few days ago where he was bashing everyone..with the funny sounds to go with it. I think he really is a comedian for now and he's trying not to get caught up. but we all know the old saying about power. as for Maher..meh. I used to like him but he's become too full of himself. A fate I hope does not happen to Jon Stewart.

    It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

    by AKA potsi on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 09:47:46 AM PDT

  •  Thanks (4+ / 0-)

    I like your discussion of Maher and Stewart.  I think whether it's a mistake or a pattern has to do with what happens in the future.  

    I think Maher consistently uses racist language.  Aside from being an all around dick.  I get puzzled how someone who uses such language can be so popular among lefties.

    I am surprised, also, that Stewart wasn't more discerning about his language choice.  I hope it's the last time.  

    It seems to me that we've all been steeped in a white supremacy society so a lot of white people in particular would be susceptible to using racist language and imagery without even knowing it.  I heard a great sermon by Dr. Leon Spencer about it this.  He's been participating in our common religion for many, many years, seen a clear evolution in our community's way of being together.

    He stated it's the impact, not the intent, that matters.  White people would do well to remember that.   He used the metaphor of a dance, and that we step on one another's feet.  That when we do that we should learn ways to reconcile with the person who was hurt.  At this point in our history and present, I think it's white people who need to learn this skill.  To be less "poor me" when getting called on it and more willing to admit the error and learn it.

    This takes hard work and self examination.  Starting with lifting up that it's not the "other" who can hold these views.  In the end one should focus on the wrongs that s/he can change.  Do what you have the power to do.  That means cleaning up our own house starting with our personal selves.

    Thank you for your piece.

    What is the most loving thing I can do, right now? Rev Dr Mary Harrington

    by sberel on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 09:50:03 AM PDT

  •  the problem is that the country thought when obama (5+ / 0-)

    was elected they expected over night solutions that has been festering for 10 years under Bush that brought this country down.. imop the progressives did not stand behind the pres when the teas went after with a vengence, while he was trying to accomplish what is good for the country he was torn down by his own party(bluedogs) who voted lockstep with the gop. As progressives we sat quietly was he was attacked our voices were quiet.. but we are angry when he does not jump through hoops fast enough. finnally van jones has stepped forward with a true progressive voice that supports the pres.
    We allowed the gop & the media (beltway boys) create a non issue  ( how he emotes) into a major issue instead of reporting what is really going on. racism is apparent & those that claim it is not are not being true to themselves. either we step step up & allow our voices to be heard for the disrespect & be supportive. my fear this comming election will have  plent of coded or dog whistle politic going on & will it will be very ugly

    •  Exactly.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sberel

      And the problems have been festering for longer than 10 years, a lot of the problems have their origin as far back as Reagan, with his trickle down crap...

      The Blue Dogs weren't the only ones in the Democratic Party to tear him down or not support him....a lot of long time and powerful Dems went M.I.A. in the early days...

  •  A confluence of circumstances (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Farkletoo

    The abject failure of the two terms of the Bush administration made it such that a Democrat was all but assured the Presidency in 2008.  As fate would have it, the two top contenders for the Democratic nomination turned out to be a woman and a bi-racial man.  Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are intelligent people.  In the end, it was Mr. Obama's oratory skills that propelled him to the nomination.  He railed against the excesses of the previous administration and stated many goals that the vast majority of the American people supported.  He, and many Democrats, rode that support to an overwhelming victory.

    In the two short years since, I have formulated a couple of hypothesis regarding the present state of affairs.  Unfortunately, although I believe these ideas to be true, there are those that may question my motives or meaning.  I can only say that I consider myself a Pragmatist, guided by fact and logic.  With that being said, I offer my observations..........

    My first revelation was that America was, and quite possibly still is, not ready to accept a President who is not white.  This has nothing to do with the qualifications of non-whites.  It has everything to do with the woeful racism that still pervades our society.  Many times I have wondered how anti-President the Republicans would be if a white, male Democrat had won the 2008 election?  How less vicious would that Right-Wing segment of the Media have been?  Certainly Mr. Obama has let some of his supporters down, myself included.  But he, and far too many Democrats, are paying the price for American racism.  Would that it were not so.  I am not at all wishing that Mr. Obama had not won the election.  I just wish that it hadn't exposed all the nasty things crawling around under the rocks of America.

    Secondly, the American voter, or at least the ones that do actually vote, continue to parade their ignorance as if it is a badge of honor.  To think that people like Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, John McCain, John Boehner, etc. actually have supporters!  To me, it is beyond the pale.  It truly speaks of the vast disconnect between reality and fantasy.

    The only answer I can possibly offer is this.  Anyone who sees what is truly going on must get out and vote the Republican party back to the stone age, where they so rightfully belong.  I have no doubt that if everyone who has neglected to vote in the past would go out and make a statement, the result would be a total rejection of the fairy tales of the Republicans.  They deserve to be abjectly humiliated at the voting booth.  Let's do it!  If we don't, the consequences will be unthinkable.  Really.

  •  maher is the only (0+ / 0-)

    white comic I can begrudgingly take. yes his comedy re: obama is raw...but it does strike a nervous laugh to say the least.

    "This country was founded on compromise. I couldn't go through the front door at this country's founding" - President Barack Obama

    by AAMOM on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 11:15:38 AM PDT

    •  I should think that calling anyone (0+ / 0-)

      female genitalia falls outside the spectrum of "raw" and slides directly into foul.  

      Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.--MLK, Jr.

      by conlakappa on Mon Jul 11, 2011 at 10:54:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Recomend for some of what you state (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orange County Liberal

    Disagree with first part of of your hypothesis. A person of color was elected. Now if you mean part of america is not ready then yes, I agree and I am affraid that will never completely change.

    I also disagree with the assumption that if a white democratic male had been elected the right wing media would be less vicious, See Bill Clinton's Presidency from start to finish. Race has just provided another talking point.

    cheers

    "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." - President Merkin Muffley

    by Farkletoo on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 11:21:45 AM PDT

  •  well written diary. (5+ / 0-)

    I agree mostly.  completely on maher, who I think was a harbinger of how the president would be treated by the left, as represented by dkos.  but maher's an ASSHOLE.  that's his whole persona, has been since the half hour comedy hour on... what was that, A&E back in the day?  maher was always on that thing lol.  anyway I expected as much from that guy.  didn't know what to expect from the 'netroots' but I've been manly disappointed.

    Stewart?  nah.  dude does voices lol.  and pretty funnily.  plus that voice didn't sound like Scatman Crothers much less a caricature.

    really love the workplace analogy too.  it's perfect.  trust me, I've been there.

    "I be the first to set off sh*t, last to run." ~Clifford Smith

    by mallyroyal on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 12:27:18 PM PDT

    •  Rec'ing your comment for (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mallyroyal

      mostly agreeing with it.  Seems like Maher thinks it's cute and he gets a pass because he dates black women.  And has black friends [familiar?].  But I will clown him until his last breath for his self-importance and principles when, yes, he went to Cornell.  But he also was on Murder, She Wrote.

      Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.--MLK, Jr.

      by conlakappa on Mon Jul 11, 2011 at 10:56:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've been watching this diary since it posted... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sberel, conlakappa

    I'm going to chalk it up to being a Sunday morning for the tepid response to something that's spot on.

    Your work analogy fits the whole Presidency to perfection...you saw it in the general and you have seen it since day one of the Presidency...a lot of dreams were shattered when Obama won.

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