Is 'You Didn't Build That' a Race Thing?

In President Obama's heart, way deep down inside, if congressional majorities weren't a concern, what would he really want to do?

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In President Obama's heart, way deep down inside, if congressional majorities weren't a concern, what would he really want to do? Reporters like The Atlantic's Jim Fallows and The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza suggest that, left to his own devices, he'd implement in pretty banal center-left policies. But some conservatives hint Obama wants to create a radically redistributionist regime, and maybe do that redistributing along racial lines. The problem with Obama's "you didn't build that" line is not that it sounds anti-business, New York's Jonathan Chait writes. It's that he sounds black, and "From the moment he stepped onto the national stage, Obama’s deepest political fear was being seen as a 'traditional' black politician, one who was demanding redistribution from white America on behalf of his fellow African-Americans." That speech plays into that stereotype, which Republicans were able to exploit for decades.

Conservatives do not like this analysis. The outrage transcends conservative blog heirarchy, with the National Review and "Jammie" at Jammie Wearing Fools having essentially the same shocked response. The idea is so absurd on it's face there's no point in arguing against it. "For #$&% sake, man. Really?" National Review's Daniel Foster writes. "I don’t even have an argument here — which I suppose is fine since Chait doesn’t either." The Washington Examiner's David Freddoso tweets, "If you torture logic long enough, it will eventually confess that the law of gravity is racist, too." And "Jammie" sighs, "Eventually, everything is racist... It can’t be that he’s a failed president. It must be becasue of his skin color. So glad we’ve moved beyond race, arent’t we?"

Chait says he got the idea from conservatives themselves, pointing to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Kimberly Strassel, "who has good Republican sourcing." Strassel writes that "both sides are now realizing" the clip goes "beyond politics" of the economy:

They raise the far more potent issue of national identity and feed the suspicion that Mr. Obama is actively hostile to American ideals and aspirations. Republicans are doing their own voter surveys, and they note that Mr. Obama's problem is that his words cause an emotional response, and that they disturb voters in nearly every demographic.

In the last couple weeks, the Romney campaign has been calling Obama radical, his views foreign to most Americans. John Sununu, speaking as a campaign surrogate, said Obama did drugs and needed to learn "how to be American." Perhaps this was a reference to socialism in Europe, where there are a lot of white people.

What could that emotional response be? For a clue, it helps to look at the work of Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The younger Pelosi made a video making fun of white poor people being dumb (Mississippi voters), and when people were outraged, she followed up with a video of black poor people being dumb (welfare recipients in New York). Neither proves anything other than that Pelosi is a privileged jerk. ("By the end of this show, they're probably gonna lynch me," Pelosi told Bill Maher in March, in reference to the liberal crowd that probably wouldn't want to see a film making fun of "freeloading welfare queens," in her terms.) The second video became quite popular on conservative blogs. "I’m here trying to get some Obama bucks. That‘s what I’m doing, trying to get some Obama money," says one black man. "Bitch I want a check," says another. One guy says he gets food stamps, and Pelosi zooms in on him eating Pringles -- hello, that's a luxury food item with poor nutritional value, you dumb ol' poor person!

"Of all people, Nancy Pelosi's daughter Alexadra Pelosi exposes the ignorance and laziness in the black community that continues to have it's hand out with the refusal to attempt to go find a J.O.B.," wrote the blog Bungalow Bill's Conservative Wisdom. Radio host Steve Gill wrote, "Why isn’t Alexandra Pelosi’s video getting more attention???? Maybe because the mainstream media doesn’t wait to shed light on a story that predominately hits poor African-Americans that depend on government welfare and food stamps." Then there's this viral Rush Limbaugh clip of a Detroit radio station interviewing people "in line for Obama cash." Glenn Beck played it too.

Here's a transcript of the audio:

Reporter: Why are you here ?

Woman: To get some money

Reporter: What kind of Money ?

Woman: Obama money

Reporter: Where’s it comin; from ?

Woman: Obama

Reporter: And where did Obama get it from ?

Woman: I don’t know, his stash. I don’t know. I don’t know where he got it from, but he’s givin’ it to us. And we love him. That’s why we voted for him. O-ba-ma. O-ba-ma.

And then there's The Daily Caller's Edward Klein's humor piece Friday imagining "inside the mind of Barack Obama." Klein imagines a bumbling president who is castrated by his wife and who can't give enough stuff away to get reelected:

When Miche starts talking that way, I can always tell what she’s thinking: What happened to The One, the Black Jesus, and the Platonic philosopher king we’ve been seeking for the past 2,400 years? Where did that guy go?


I’ve tried to explain to Miche that I’ve done everything Axe and the Chicago campaign gang have asked of me. I’ve pandered to Hispanics by granting green cards to 800,000 of their kids who came here illegally.

Every time I’ve tried to compromise with the Republicans on the budget or deficit reduction, Valerie and Miche remind me that the reason I ran for president was to spread the wealth around and put a cap on capitalism.

Just saying, it's a feeling that's out there.

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