Did you know that Barack Obama is black? Well, the New York Times finally figured it out.
After years of watching political opponents question the president’s birthplace and his faith, and hearing a member of Congress shout “You lie!” at him from the House floor, some African-Americans saw the move by Senate Republicans as another attempt to deny the legitimacy of the country’s first black president. And they call it increasingly infuriating after Mr. Obama has spent seven years in the White House and won two resounding election victories.
“Our president, the president of the United States, has been disrespected from Day 1,” Carol Richardson, 61, said on Wednesday as she colored a customer’s hair at Ultra Beauty Salon in Hollywood, S.C., a mostly black town near Charleston. “The words that have been said, the things the Republicans have done they’d have never have done to another president. Let’s talk like it is, it’s because of his skin color.”
Reflecting on the Supreme Court vacancy, Bakari Sellers, a former state representative from Denmark, S.C., likened the Senate treatment of the president to the 18th century constitutional compromise that counted black men as equivalent to three-fifths of a person.
“I guess many of them are using this in the strictest construction that Barack Obama’s serving three-fifths of a term or he’s three-fifths of a human being, so he doesn’t get to make this choice,” Mr. Sellers said. “It’s infuriating.”
The anger and outrage that Mr. McConnell’s position has touched off among African-Americans could have implications for the presidential election. Leading African-American Democrats are trying to use it to motivate rank-and-file blacks to vote in November, the first presidential election in a decade in which Mr. Obama will not be on the ballot and in which Democrats fear black participation could drop.
“Anger becomes action when it’s directly tied to a moment, and the moment now is the election on Nov. 8,” said Stacey Abrams, a Democratic state representative from Georgia and the House minority leader there, adding that Mr. Scalia’s death meant that this presidential campaign could no longer be construed as a mere “thought exercise.”
Nice of the Grey Lady to catch up. Maybe now they’ll get clued into what the people really mean when they say they “want their country back,” or why the Republicans and conservatives recoil and shout “Socialism!” when the president proposes a healthcare plan that was a reprint of what Gov. Mitt Romney put in place in Massachusetts, which was originally conceived by Sen. Robert Dole (R-KS). Or when the Orcosphere calls President Obama a lawless dictator for issuing executive orders (despite the fact that presidents do that) or lazy for taking a vacation even though he’d have to take the rest of his term off to catch up with George W. Bush’s use of time off.
I’m not sure why anyone thinks this is some complicated convergence of socioeconomic trends and intricate political movement of the dials between liberal, moderate, or conservative paradigms. At least since the 1950’s the base of the Republican party has been benignly racist — they’re not burning crosses out in the woods but they wouldn’t mind toasting a few marshmallows as they pass by — and genially intolerant of people of other races, ethnic heritages, or non-Protestant faiths; they can clean their houses and take care of the kids, but wouldn’t let their son or daughter marry one. And they’ve never been too wild about women having control over their own bodies or those folks down the street who are both men and live together as a couple.
Republicans are especially sensitive about the notion that they are diminishing Mr. Obama because of his race, and spokesmen for several Republican senators, including Mr. McConnell and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, declined to comment or would not make the senators available for comment.
The suggestion that racism is playing a role angers Mr. McConnell’s friends, who point out that his formative political experience was working for a Republican senator who supported civil rights, that he helped override President Ronald Reagan’s veto of sanctions against the apartheid government in South Africa and that he is married to an Asian-American woman.
But in the aftermath of Mr. McConnell’s statement on Saturday, a growing chorus of black voices is complaining that such a refusal to even consider a Supreme Court nominee would never occur with a white president.
“It’s more than a political motive — it has a smell of racism,” said Representative G. K. Butterfield, Democrat of North Carolina, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“I can tick instance after instance over the last seven years where Republicans have purposely tried to diminish the president’s authority,” Mr. Butterfield said. “This is just really extreme, and leads me to the conclusion that if this was any other president who was not African-American, it would not have been handled this way.”
What I don’t understand is why they try so hard to deny it. It’s obvious to anyone who listens to any of the candidates running for federal or state offices for any more time than just a soundbite. It’s what has defined the GOP at least within my living memory, which goes back to the 1950’s. Sure, there have been racist Democrats and Republicans who support affirmative action and school desegregation, but ever since the GOP aligned themselves with movements like the Christian Coalition and the philosophy of the National Review, race has been a part of their platform so succinctly stated by Jessamine Milner in 1974.