The Right's Anger Over Obama

There's a kernel of truth in Victor Davis Hanson's latest anti-Obama screed, and Charles Krauthammer's bitter fury at Obama supporters. Obama was, I think, brought up and lived for a long time in an atmosphere in which occasional left-wing excess did not grate on his ears or his temperament as they would on people like, er, me. And his desire to connect to a black experience he never fully had himself also played a part in not distancing himself from some aspect of his pastor's rhetoric or friends' associations. But to go from this to the vicious attempt to portray Obama as a fraud, an actor, and another phony politician is a sign of the hard right's nervousness. When you listen to Sean Hannity, you hear someone who looks at Obama and sees every racial fear he has ever had about black Democrats personified. The difficulty of making distinctions between, say, Sharpton, Jackson and Obama is just too much for him. They're all black Democrats, aren't they? They must all be traitors or far left anti-American hate-mongers. He doesn't even hear the broader Obama message, the full Obama manifesto, the book, the countless speeches, and interviews and debates in which Obama's broader post-racial, post-partisan appeal is exposed. One can only hope that most people will see the full picture. But the right-wing freak show machine will do all it can to prevent it.

VDH is also 80 percent right and 100 percent wrong on this:

[Obama's supporters] despise George Bush, will do anything to prevent another Republican in the White House, are tired of the Clintons, and feel Obama offers them symbolic capital, making them liked abroad and free of guilt at home.

Well, yes. I don't think Obama would be in anything like the position he is now in were it not for George W. Bush.

In fact, I think Bush has made Obama possible. Many of us are so disgusted, repelled and appalled by what has been done these past few years - massive spending, massive debt, a fantastically bungled war, the legalization of torture, the demonization of minorities, etc. - that we are prepared to look over some ideological and political differences to back the person who most represents a total repudiation of the Bush Republicans. That Obama also represents a repudiation of boomer culture warfare, transforms our racial politics and single-handedly rebrands America as a decent force in the world is, of course, hard to get across to those who still regard Bush as a great president.

So yes, this is in part about the toxins of the Bush years: a desire to flush them as emphatically as possible from the communal bloodstream. Of course, the Republican right can't get it. But the polls on Bush's disastrous presidency reveal how marginalized the Bush right now is.