September 13, 2009
Boy, Oh, Boy
By MAUREEN DOWD
(original column in white; translation in red)
The normally nonchalant Barack Obama looked nonplussed, as Nancy Pelosi glowered behind.
The woman knew it was a racist remark even if the black guy didn’t.
Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.
Memo to fact-checkers: don’t. This is an opinion column.
But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!
Everything anybody says from South Carolina is racial.
The outburst was unexpected from a milquetoast Republican backbencher from South Carolina who had attracted little media attention.
This guy is a loser.
Now it has made him an overnight right-wing hero, inspiring “You lie!” bumper stickers and T-shirts.
This guy is now a loser with a following of other losers.
The congressman, we learned, belonged to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led a 2000 campaign to keep the Confederate flag waving above South Carolina’s state Capitol and denounced as a “smear” the true claim of a black woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond, the ’48 segregationist candidate for president.
He’s also a fucking bigot.
Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber.
And even worse, he’s ignorant and rude.
I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.
This is me trying to be balanced and objective.
I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.
The Republican party has been a pack of demagogues for the last 60 years.
But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.
Did I mention he’s a fucking bigot?
“A lot of these outbursts have to do with delegitimizing him as a president,” said Congressman Jim Clyburn, a senior member of the South Carolina delegation. Clyburn, the man who called out Bill Clinton on his racially tinged attacks on Obama in the primary, pushed Pelosi to pursue a formal resolution chastising Wilson.
I will now use one of his own colleagues to nail this guy to the wall.
“In South Carolina politics, I learned that the olive branch works very seldom,” he said. “You have to come at these things from a position of strength. My father used to say, ‘Son, always remember that silence gives consent.’”
I have no idea what I’m talking about.
Barry Obama of the post-’60s Hawaiian ’hood did not live through the major racial struggles in American history.
Heh. I just called the President “Barry”.
Maybe he had a problem relating to his white basketball coach or catching a cab in New York, but he never got beaten up for being black.
‘Cause I know what it’s like to get beaten up for being black.
Now he’s at the center of a period of racial turbulence sparked by his ascension.
It’s all about race.
Even if he and the coterie of white male advisers around him don’t choose to openly acknowledge it, this president is the ultimate civil rights figure — a black man whose legitimacy is constantly challenged by a loco fringe.
This is the South’s worst nightmare.
For two centuries, the South has feared a takeover by blacks or the feds. In Obama, they have both.
Look out, white women – it’s Nat Turner, President of the United States!
The state that fired the first shot of the Civil War has now given us this: Senator Jim DeMint exhorted conservatives to “break” the president by upending his health care plan.
Wait – that’s not hot-button enough. Let me think of another example.
Rusty DePass, a G.O.P. activist, said that a gorilla that escaped from a zoo was “just one of Michelle’s ancestors.”
Lovelorn Mark Sanford tried to refuse the president’s stimulus money.
I have no idea what I’m talking about.
And now Joe Wilson.
His real first name is Addison, by the way. But he calls himself Joe because he wants to be thought of as just folks.
“A good many people in South Carolina really reject the notion that we’re part of the union,” said Don Fowler, the former Democratic Party chief who teaches politics at the University of South Carolina.
In South Carolina, “just folks” means “plantation owners who are still fighting the Civil War.”
He observed that when slavery was destroyed by outside forces and segregation was undone by civil rights leaders and Congress, it bred xenophobia.
They really really hate blacks down there.
“We have a lot of people who really think that the world’s against us,” Fowler said, “so when things don’t happen the way we like them to, we blame outsiders.”
You know those Southerners – if they’re not blaming it on the blacks, they’re blaming it on the Jews.
He said a state legislator not long ago tried to pass a bill to nullify any federal legislation with which South Carolinians didn’t agree. Shades of John C. Calhoun!
What did I tell you? Still fighting the Civil War.
It may be President Obama’s very air of elegance and erudition that raises hackles in some.
Obama has more manners and brains than the entire middle of the country.
“My father used to say to me, ‘Boy, don’t get above your raising,’ ” Fowler said. “Some people are prejudiced anyway, and then they look at his education and mannerisms and get more angry at him.”
And they really really REALLY hate uppity blacks down there.
Clyburn had a warning for Obama advisers who want to forgive Wilson, ignore the ignorant outbursts and move on: “They’re going to have to develop ways in this White House to deal with things and not let them fester out there. Otherwise, they’ll see numbers moving in the wrong direction.”
I know, I know – it’s a lame ending, but I couldn’t think of a way to tie everything together. I mean it’s not like I’m a writer or anything. I just come up with an idea for a column and then I type till I get to 250 words. Besides, nobody’s going to quote the close. They’re going to quote the part where I say it’s all about race. I suppose I should have said that at the end in some clever way, maybe by saying “To some people in this country, it’s not just numbers that are moving in the wrong direction.” But if I did that, I’d be admitting that the Republicans have a valid political beef against Obama, instead of an invalid racial one. I mean, if I thought about it for a while, I might come up with something clever. But I have to stop now - I have a Marc Jacobs Fashion Week show to get to.