Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekly Opinion/Editorial

by Steve Fair
Does former President Jimmy Carter really believe Americans care what he thinks? Carter, who was arguably the worst president of the twenty century and has been a source of irritation to every president since, is back in the news after accusing those who disagree with President Obama of being racists. Last week Carter told Brian Williams on NBC he believes a major reason that President Obama is facing declining approval ratings and “push back” from citizens on the health care issue is because of his race. Carter said, "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African American. I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country that shared the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans and that racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply."

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, an African-American, immediately called for a direct response from the president to Carter's remarks, accusing Democrats of "playing the race card ... from the bottom of the deck." "As the leader of the Democratic Party President Obama should flatly reject efforts by those in his inject race into our civil discourse in ways that divide, not unite, Americans," Steele said. To Obama’s credit, he publicly said he doesn’t agree with Carter and thought the opposition came from citizens who didn’t support his ideas and race had nothing to do with it.

There are several problems with the peanut farmer from Plains charge. First, Obama won every demographic in November. He won the “white, “brown” and the “black” vote. Carter’s accusation those who oppose the President’s policies are racists is petty and not fact based. Carter’s contention that citizens who are not in total agreement with Obama on every issue are racists is itself promoting a “racist” position.
Carter is not above playing the race card. He did it in his first statewide race for governor of Georgia. Carter, a State Senator, was trying to succeed Lester Maddox, in 1970, who was an admitted segregationist. Maddox was wildly popular in the Peach State but could not run for a second term as Governor, so he ran and won the race for Lt. Governor that year. Matt Towery, one of Carter’s staffers at the time, says Carter proudly proclaimed in public campaign appearances and literature that he was a “Maddox” Democrat. Carter recognized the segregation issue was on the minds of the voters and he needed votes to get elected. If Brian Williams were an honest journalist, he would have asked Carter about that campaign strategy in 1970 and asked him to explain the inconsistency.
Obama, appearing on Letterman Monday said, "I think it's important to realize that I was actually black before the election." "One of the things that you sign up for in politics is that folks yell at you," the president said, noting that "whenever a president tries to bring about significant changes, particularly during times of economic unease, there is a certain segment of the population that gets very riled up." He pointed to the experiences of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan as examples. But Obama is not Reagan, JFK or FDR. They were willing to go into the lion’s den and face their opponents- thus far Obama has not exhibited that characteristic. He is like the undefeated football team that only played unranked opponents, but expects to be in the BSC title game.

On Sunday, the president made the rounds of the Sunday talking head shows, but choose not to appear on Fox News. Fox has more than twice the viewers of the closest competitor, but the prez decided to skip the”fair & balanced network” to “preach to the choir.” That was wrong for a number of reasons, but primarily because if the president expects to persuade citizens on the merits of his programs by doing a media blitz, he can’t ignore Fox. That was a childish, immature decision that exhibits a weakness in leadership. Real leaders take on their detractors- they don’t dodge them.
Lester Maddox was a quite a character; after Maddox left office, he and a former employee, who was a convicted felon, formed a comedy team called, “The Governor and the Dishwasher” and played comedy clubs. If Obama continues dodging his detractors, he and Carter can do the same thing in 2013 and bill themselves as, “The Goober and the Dodger.”


Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

It's interesting. After last November's election when the American people sent the first African American in history to the White House, the GOP decided it needed to undergo a bit of a face lift - actually a face dye - and hire a new RNC chairman.

So what did they do? True to character they just had to hire the dumbest black guy they could find.

Whenever the Republican party sets off to prove that they are not a party chock full of racists and fools or that they really give half-a-hoot-in-hell about poverty, they only end up reinforcing their utter contempt for the American people. It really is kind of funny when you think about it.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Steve Fair is a political activist. said...


Thanks for your comments, but poverty is not something the GOP created. It exists because the Dems have pushed their "government will take care of you from the cradle to the grave" philosphy for years. Personal responsibility has given way to irresponsibility. And that's not funny- anyway you slice it. Surely you are not advocating or promoting irresponsibility.

To your point that the Republicans could care less about the American people, you may be right. They have certainly failed us in not holding the line against the liberals in Washington, but the Dems are in control and they can't blame the minority party for their shortcomings.

Steele was not my first choice for RNC Chair, but he is far from dumb-just without direction.

I enjoyed your blog and the only places I see where we disagree is where you are wrong.