Kenneth T. Walsh at US News:
On March 12, 2010, President Obama welcomed me into the Oval Office for an interview for this book. Dressed in an elegant dark blue business suit and tie with an American flag pin in his left lapel, he was serene and confident. Behind him was the portrait of George Washington that has hung in the Oval Office for many years. Flanking that portrait were two busts added by Obama, reflecting his own values and heroes—behind him on his right was a likeness of Martin Luther King Jr., and on his left was one of Abraham Lincoln.
Obama was in a reflective mood. He began the interview by saying he had been “fully briefed” on my topic and was ready for me to “dive in.” He proceeded to methodically defend his effort to build a race-neutral administration. “Americans, since the victories of the civil rights movement, I think, have broadly come to accept the notion that everybody has to be treated equally; everybody has to be treated fairly,” the president told me. “And I think that the whole debate about how do you make up for past history creates a complicated wrinkle in that principle of equality.”
But Obama, in his most candid moments, acknowledged that race was still a problem. In May 2010, he told guests at a private White House dinner that race was probably a key component in the rising opposition to his presidency from conservatives, especially right-wing activists in the anti-incumbent “Tea Party” movement that was then surging across the country. Many middle-class and working-class whites felt aggrieved and resentful that the federal government was helping other groups, including bankers, automakers, irresponsible people who had defaulted on their mortgages, and the poor, but wasn’t helping them nearly enough, he said.
A guest suggested that when Tea Party activists said they wanted to “take back” their country, their real motivation was to stir up anger and anxiety at having a black president, and Obama didn’t dispute the idea. He agreed that there was a “subterranean agenda” in the anti-Obama movement—a racially biased one—that was unfortunate. But he sadly conceded that there was little he could do about it.
His goal, he said, was to be as effective and empathetic a president as possible for all Americans. If he could accomplish that, it would advance racial progress for blacks more than anything else he could do.
Mike Riggs at Daily Caller:
Pres. Obama has successfully avoided reducing the complex populist outrage of the Tea Party to racial anxiety–in public, that is. Behind closed doors, however, he allegedly has no problem distorting the motivations of anti-government types.
Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media:
That was May 2010, according to Walsh. Ironically, only a few days before, on April 29, 2010, your humble scribe wrote the following:
The real reason liberals accuse Tea Partiers of racism is that contemporary America-style liberalism is in rigor mortis. Liberals have nothing else to say or do. Accusations of racism are their last resort.
The European debt crisis — first Greece, then Portugal and now Spain (and Belgium, Ireland and Italy, evidently) — has shown the welfare state to be an unsustainable economic system. The US, UK and Japan, according to the same Financial Times report, are also on similar paths of impoverishment through entitlements.
Many of us have known this for a long time, just from simple math. Entitlements are in essence a Ponzi scheme. Now we have to face that and do something serious about it or our economy (the world economy) will fall apart.
Liberals, leftists or progressives — whatever they choose to call themselves — have a great deal of trouble accepting this. To do so they would have to question a host of positions they have not examined for years, if ever, not to mention have to engage in discussions that could threaten their livelihood and jeopardize their personal and family associations.
Thus the traditional wish to kill the messenger who brings the bad news: the Tea Partiers. And the easiest way to kill them — the most obvious and hoariest of methods – is to accuse them of racism.
When I wrote that, it was a month after Andrew Breitbart issued his as yet unanswered $100,000 challenge for evidence of racism at a Tea Party demonstration. So this is now already a relatively old debate. And the same arguments keep coming up again and again. The left keeps accusing the right of racism and the right keeps denying it, demanding evidence, which is never forthcoming. Not once. But that doesn’t stop the left. They continue the accusations — and the president, at least according to Walsh, believes them.
There was, of course, no evidence at all that the Tea Parties had any racial motive whatsoever, and there still isn’t. None. They’re not motivated by race, but by policy. They consider Obama’s policies to be dangerous and destructive, and they’re right on both counts.
But this president, and the people he hires (think Eric “nation of cowards,” “my people” Holder, Van Jones, etc) can’t seem to abide opposition based on policy. Either that, or they’re using race cynically as a way to freeze the shallower thinkers around them and try to put legitimate critics out into the political outer darkness. Charges of racism do both quite nicely.
I think (hope?!?) he was being polite to some fat-cat donors rather than describing his own convictions (and I am bitterly clinging to the notion that he has some convictions). Huckabee going on about Obama’s Kenyan attitudes would be an example from the right of pandering to the nutters rather than challenging them.
Obviously, your mileage may vary.
THEN AGAIN: The First Panderer is also the First Condescender, so he might very well believe the worst of these lowly Tea Partiers…
Patterico at Patterico’s Pontification:
Of course, it’s difficult to know what he said and how he said it from this report, as it is admittedly full of paraphrases, and lacks the clarifying aids of a recording or even direct quotes longer than two words. Depending on what he said, he may have been accurate — there clearly is a racial component to some of the opposition to Obama. The issue is how widespread he portrayed this aspect of his opposition to be. Because most of us really don’t care about the color of his skin. The color we’re worried about is red — all the red ink required to document the effects of his disastrous policies on our national balance sheet. (Look at it as a stimulus program: Obama will save or create thousands of jobs at the manufacturers of the red ink hues!)
Given how uncertain it is what he said, how’s about a journalist asks him at his next press conference? Let’s get some clarification on just how racist he thinks Tea Partiers really are.
Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:
What a horrible disappointment this man has been as president.
2012 cannot get here soon enough.
Orange Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair
Tom Ridge writes a book.
Paul Bedard at US News:
Dave Weigel at The Washington Independent:
Emptywheel at Firedoglake
Doug J. notes that this will probably not be a subject for discussion on “Morning Joe.”
Pareene at Gawker:
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey
UPDATE #2: Emptywheel and Glenn Greenwald on Ambinder’s post
UPDATE #3: Tom Maguire
Versha Sharma at TPM
UPDATE #4: Reihan Salam
Emptywheel (Marcy) responds to Ambinder
Spencer Ackerman on the Empty/Ambers spat
Matt Lewis and Bill Scher at Bloggingheads
UPDATE #5: Now Ridge is back-tracking
Jennifer Rubin at Commentary
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