On August 31st, Richard Wolffe made the following comment on MSNBC’s “The Last Word”: “What is it about this President that has stripped away the veneer of respect that normally accompanies the office of the President? Why do Republicans think this President is unpresidential and shouldn’t dare to request this kind of thing?”
Mr. Wolffe was referring to the President’s attempt to schedule his “Jobs speech” at the same time as the Republican presidential debate. And he went on to darkly insinuate that it was because Republicans don’t like the color of the President’s skin. In other words, the RAAAAAACISM argument, redux.
I would like to give Mr. Wolffe a serious reply—probably more serious than the question actually deserves.
First, I don’t recall Mr. Wolffe or any of his colleagues being all that concerned about the “veneer of respect” for the office during Bush’s tenure. I seem to recall that President Bush was booed during his inaugural speech and at Coretta Scott King’s funeral: was that respectful? I also recall him being heckled during the 2005 State of the Union speech: was that respectful? Let’s not even mention the bumper stickers like “F**k Bush”, “Unlike Bush I support our troops & Veterans”, “Cheney Satan ‘08”, and so on. Or the book by David Corn “The Lies of George W. Bush”. Of course, Vice-president Cheney got the same treatment, ditto Presidents Reagan, Bush the elder, and on and on and on. This “veneer of respect” seems to be something that applies only to Democrats.
Second, Mr. Wolffe ignores a simple fact: President Obama has, in fact, been quite unpresidential. For example, his unseemly criticism of the Supreme Court during a joint session of Congress. Or his disgraceful treatment of the Chairman of the house budget committee. Or his appearance on ABC’s ridiculous show “The View”. Or his ongoing petulant, thin-skinned behavior (“I’m sensitive about my ears.”), and vilification of anyone who has the temerity to disagree with his views. Contrast this with former President Bush: whatever you might think of his policies, he carefully avoided doing anything which he felt demeaned the office of the President—often to his own detriment. He even gave up playing golf to avoid the appearance of not caring about the War on Terror.
Third, Mr. Wolffe’s comments were made in the context of a discussion about the scheduling of the President’s “Jobs speech”. (The one on the 8th of September 2011—never mind all of the others.) You can not convince me that his attempt to schedule the debate at the same time as the Republican presidential debate was not a blatantly political move worthy of Richard Daley and other Chicago thug politicians. It was reminiscent of the machine politics of Tammany Hall–and it demeaned the presidency even further—not to mention what’s left of Obama’s own personal reputation, which is in tatters anyway.
Finally, I’ve discussed the whole RAAACCISM argument in this space before. In my view, the abuse of the racism charge has rendered it meaningless, if rather annoying and frustrating. On the other hand, it’s also sort of amusing, since the vast majority of the racism in America is found on the left: Bull Connor, the KKK, the anti-civil rights movement headed by “folks” like Albert Gore, Sr., the continuing need of the left to analyze everything in terms of the color of one’s skin, and so on. It’s also amusing how the lefties consider it racism to criticize black Democrats, but in the same breath they say the most horrible, vitriolic things about black conservatives like Justice Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Herman Cain, and others.
So, Mr. Wolffe, that’s what it is about this President that has “stripped away the veneer of respect”: his own behavior and that of apologists like yourself.