Ringside at the Apocalypse

we're all helbound in a handbasket..but at least it's a fun ride
JULY 25, 2009 8:39AM

The Gates Blow-back--'Bittergate' Revisited

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The President was both right and within his rights to describe the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates as "stupid" behavior on the part of the Cambridge Police Department.  By all accounts, Professor Gate's "crime" consisted of nothing more than trying to gain entry to a home that a working-class white cop could not imagine that Gates, a middle-aged black man, legitimately lived in-- and then failing to show proper deference to the officer's racism and hostility.  It is a stupidity that President Obama, who once defended his racial identity by observing that he was "black enough" to have difficulty hailing a cab late at night, can understand all too clearly.  It's a stupidity that those of us who applaud the election of this country's long-overdue first black president expect that president to condemn.

But it comes as no particularly surprise that The President's moral clarity is being turned against him or that his words are being taken out of context in an effort to defeat him.  Its essentially a replay of what happened during the campaign when then-candidate Barack Obama expressed his sympathy and compassion for rural and rust-belt Americans who "bitterly" cling to guns and religion for consolation in a country that has effectively bypassed them.  The sympathy and compassion was stripped away by the candidate's opponents, leaving only an appearance of elitist condescension.  Candidate Barack Obama has progressed into President Barack Obama.  Then, the contest was for the presidency; now, the contest is for The President to actually accomplish any of his campaign promises. 

But while Barack Obama may've progressed, his opponents have not, nor have their tactics changed.  Rush Limbaugh, Bill Kristol, Glenn Beck, et. al., have happily seized on this as a welcome distraction from the serious business of healthcare reform and the other grown-up issues they would rather we not think about.  Sargent Crowley and Cambridge PD are all too happy to play along and enjoy their fifteen minutes of fame as the latest victims of an imaginary conspiracy to suppress the rights of white people.

Meanwhile, Professor Gates isn't the only black Harvard alumni having a hard time convincing working class white people he's in the right house.  The "Birther" movement-- people who steadfastly insist that Barack Obama is an Kenyan-born poseur who has no business in The White House-- owes much of its success to the same cabal of right-wing pundits and provocateurs, who refuse to let this strain of wingnut lunancy dies its deserved death.  Again, the end is the same.  If people's attention can be misdirected to a fantasy debate over The President's place of birth or the alledged grievances of a racist cracker cop, then they won't be paying attention to other things.

Things like, for example, a cabal of bought and paid-for insurance company shills in Congress that are screwing us all out of affordable healthcare... again.  Or things like the way many of those same corrupt shills disrespected and insulted the "wise latina" who will soon be this country's first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.  Or like the growing likelihood that the current administration will be left with no choice but to investigate the previous administration's war crimes.  Or the possiblity that we will all soon enough be cooked in our own carbon emissions and render it all irrelevant.

It's an insult to this country's dignity that the paranoia and resentments of a dwindling class of rural white know-nothings is being used to distract this country's leaders and electorate from the serious business of governance.  But you can't call it an insult to our collective intelligence... because so far, it seems to be working

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I am shocked that I am the first to comment on your post. You are, of course, absolutely correct. Given the events and pressure for the past several weeks , I fear our President has not capitalized on his popularity or support from the majority of Americans. I had such hope. I see health care for all going down the drain so quickly our heads are spinning. How could this happen? I am going to be left with no insurance and nor money for any care if things don't change. I did a blog on my situation weeks ago, forwarded it to all Reps, Sens and reform proponents; even the White House. I am not poor, just don't enough money. I can not sell my house ( I will have to pay some one thousands to buy it). I counted on the equity to live on after 65. Can't happen. My huge down payment is lost. I do not expect things will turn around soon enough for me. Maybe for my children or grandchildren, maybe not.