This evening, or last night, depending on where you are in the country, Charles M Blow, columnist at the New York Times, appeared on the Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell and gave a brilliant explanation as to why Republicans hate President Obama so much. I've never seen anything like it.
The segment was about how Rush Limbaugh gave Mitt Romney marching orders on Monday about what to say to President Obama. Then on Tuesday, Mitt Romney followed orders and sent out John Sununu to execute the orders. And, of course, you've heard by now the whole brouhaha that erupted when Sununu said:
I wish this President would learn how to be an American.So Lawrence played clips of Limbaugh giving the marching orders on Monday, Sununu attempting to remember all of Limbaugh's instructions when he was being interviewed, and then Limbaugh gloating on Tuesday that Romney had followed Limbaugh's orders by sending out Sununu. Surely you read about it, or saw it on the 24/7 news. Lawrence completed his introduction of the story by giving a little history lesson about John Sununu's career:
John Sununu was put out to political pasture a long time ago, but Mitt Romney was desperate to win New Hampshire this time, and he thought Sununu a former New Hampshire governor could be helpful. Sununu left his turn on the national stage in disgrace. He was the White House Chief of Staff for the first President Bush. He was caught using military jets for personal travel, including skiing trips, and was pushed out of the White House having failed in every recognizable job performance measurement of a White House Chief of Staff. With friends like John Sununu, Mitt Romney is headed for a life of leisure beginning the day after the presidential election.Then Lawrence introduced Joy Reid and Charles Blow who were there to discuss Mitt Romney's very, very bad day. First Lawrence talks about Rush Limbaugh's racism and stereotyping and asks Joy a question, which she responds to, in part:
You know, actually Lawrence, this is really actually just sad. You know, my father was an immigrant to this country from the Congo, loved Ronald Reagan, was a conservative. The Republican Party has officially lost its mind. They've outsourced their entire communications and strategic operation to that guy, to Rush Limbaugh? That's where they want to go? Have all the professional campaign operators and thinkers self deported? I don't understand why they would allow this man to shape their narrative. This is a party that is joyless, that is humorless, that is angry, that is bitter, and it's pathetic.Then Lawrence turns to Charles Blow and asks him, "What are the odds of President Obama winning reelection now that Rush is officially in charge of the messenger?" But Charles didn't want to talk about that. He wanted to talk about what possessed John Sununu to say the things he said. And then he went on an eloquent explanation of how Republican minds work when they think about President Obama. You have to watch it in all it's glory because the delivery is so much a part of this segment. However, for those who simply can't watch videos, I've transcribed what he said:
Rush is always going to be foaming at the mouth, but I think that we have to go back to this Sununu thing. We need to break this down. As we used to say in the south, "Put the hay down where the goats can get it." Sununu is basically just tapping into this "otherness" idea that persists about Barack Obama. If you look at the people who say that they are "for Romney," they are actually not "for Romney" at all. They are just against Barack Obama, and a large part of those people are as Joy said, just bitter. They hate the idea of this guy.Lawrence O'Donnell interrupts and says, "Which means, by the way, that they some how doubt the power of Christ. They doubt the attracting power of Christ." Charles laughs and continues ...
He was, some believe, "born in Hawaii" ... most of us rational people ... but only 88% of Republicans even believe Hawaii is part of America. The other people believe he was born in Kenya. Some people say ... you know, then they point to the fact that some of his childhood was spent in Indonesia. If you put a map of the world in front of them, and asked them to point to Indonesia, they couldn't do it to save their mother's life, but they know it's not England. Right? So then you get this guy, with that kind of a narrative.
He writes in his own book The Audacity of Hope that he was not raised in a religious household, so he's not Christian. His father is, in fact, Muslim. He comes to Christianity on his own later in his life, but they still believe that there is no way that he can even be Christian. Right? He has this kind of elite education.
Not to dis God, right? This guy can ... every time they see this guy step up to a podium behind that Presidential Seal, a little bomb goes off in their minds and they think, "This can not be true. This can not be happening." They're living some sort of nightmare in which this person, Barack Obama, has somehow tricked us. He has done something to America. This is not how it was supposed to happen. The ruling classes in America were supposed to continue to rule for infinitum.
This was not how it was supposed to go down. He is not part of one of the American political dynasties. He's not part of a rich, American family. He is not even part of the slave legacy of America. Who is this guy in our White House? And that is what makes these little bombs go off in their heads every time they see him.
So they send Sununu, everybody's favorite drunk uncle, (laughter) out to say the things that nobody else will say, but everybody else is thinking which is that there is something different about this guy. And no matter what else you believe, whether or not you disagree with him on policy or not, whether or not it's a legitimate disagreement on policy, that he is other than you. And we must, no matter who we put up, we could put up Opie from from from you know The Andy Griffith Show, anybody. Vote this guy out, and get any body other than him.
Lawrence O'Donnell was enjoying this segment so much that he cancelled whatever he had planned for the next segment, and continued on talking to Joy and Charles after the break. I've posted the entire first segment, as well as the second segment below the orange curly thing-a-ma-jig. (The clip above is just the enlightening comments by Joy, and Charles' awesome rant.)
UPDATE: I just read Charles Blow's most recent column at The New York Times. Since the subject of Mr. Blow's rant in this diary was President Obama's "otherness,"I find it interesting that Mr. Blow has also identified an "otherness" factor about Mitt Romney:
For most Americans, filings for the Federal Election Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission are foreign concepts that would have limited resonance. But being misleading is a universal concept: most have done it and most frown upon it. The insinuation by the Obama campaign that Romney was either lying then or is lying now (or is shaving the truth down to a sliver) to make a buck and win an office is a much easier and more dangerous concept for voters to wrap their minds around.So Romney has an "otherness" problem too. In his case, he's too rich and different from ordinary American citizens. Blow goes on to make another comparison between President Obama refusing to release his long-form Birth Certificate for so long, and Romney's refusal to release additional tax returns:
Furthermore, the slipperiness of this explanation underscores Romney’s otherness. If you were a construction worker or a schoolteacher, the year you stopped doing your job wouldn’t be ambiguous. Having no “active role” in a parent “entity” feels like a term of art for a con artist.
In general, people are uneasy when politicians are unwilling to disclose details. President Obama learned this as it related to his birth certificate. He may have been withholding it on principle because no other president had been forced to go to such an extent to prove his legitimacy, but, eventually, the damage being done by withholding became greater than the principle. So he released it, and much — but not all — of the second-guessing went away.Josh Marshall at TPM wrote earlier tonight that on the day the editors at The National Review and Rick Perry added to the conservative chorus calling for Romney to release his taxes:
Romney may have to reach that decision more quickly than Obama. The narrative is starting to take hold that he is dishonest, devious and irreconcilably different. These are simple, deadly character flaws in a candidate because they’re antithetical to the American ideal of the presidency.
In a taped radio interview aired tonight Mitt Romney rejected calls from fellow Republicans that he release his full history of tax returns. “Oh, I think people in my party just say, ‘Look, this is a non-issue, just release the returns and it will all go away.’ My experience is that the Democratic Party these days has approached taxes in a very different way than in the past.”Whether it's just plain arrogance, or fear that things will get worse, Romney is not going to see this going away any time soon. He has quite a number of very, very bad days to look forward to.
He says that’s because Democrats have become much meaner than they were in the old days. But that doesn’t sound very convincing. He seems to be saying more or less openly that if he releases his tax returns it will only get worse.
The first segment in its entirety:
The second segment after the break:
By request in the comments, here is the Lawrence O'Donnell's Rewrite from last night's show: