Many Republicans remain convinced that President Obama would be neutered by aggressive media vetting. (More)
When I asked Pootie the Precious what she thought about that idea, she dashed under the sofa. I texted her on my Blewberry and asked why she was so afraid of the vet. “It smellz weerd,” she texted back on her iHazPhone. “An she pokez me.”
That’s basically what Republicans wish the media had done to President Obama in 2008, and want the media to do this year. Their idea of vetting involves speculation about whether the president ever resolved his racial and national identity crisis, of renounced the supposedly ‘radical’ ideas taught by a Harvard professor whom he hugged, held in the 1960s by a University of Chicago professor whom he met through an anti-poverty effort, or preached in a Chicago church.
In fact, Critical Race Theory is only “radical” if you reject the persistence of white privilege, President Obama was a child when Bill Ayers allegedly committed crimes and Ayers had long since joined the political mainstream by the time they met, and Jeremiah Wright’s sound-bited sermon differed from Jerry Falwell’s declaration that 9/11 was divine judgment only in the list of government and social policies each blamed.
Still, Powerline‘s Paul Mirengoff insists:
But I’m hard-pressed to see a plausible case that Obama has resolved his identity issues by fully discarding the radical belief systems to which he was drawn both as a teenager and a mature adult. If he has genuinely done so, when did he do it and what prompted the change? His candidacy for high political office likely would have prompted only steps to conceal his ideology. His ascension to the presidency would have imposed constraints on his ability to act, but not necessarily any change in his underlying beliefs.
It’s easy to outgrow a penchant for nasty pranks. It’s difficult, though not uncommon, to overcome alcohol abuse problems. It’s common to discard radical ideologies as one matures. Romney accomplished the first feat and Bush the second. Unfortunately, we know that Obama continued to be attracted to radical ideologies during the late 1980s and 1990s, and the evidence is lacking that the attraction has ended. Perhaps it is too deeply rooted in persistent issues of identity.
In other words, the media should dutifully repeat any ill-founded psycho-babble that Mirengoff and other conservatives can manufacture until all Americans recognize that President Obama is a Scary Black Man.
If that won’t work, reporters should leap on an error in a literary agent’s PR package, ignore repeated statements and releases from the Hawaii State Department of Health, and admit that President Obama was born in Kenya … or admit they are “Kool-aid-swilling hack[s] or Democrat-media drone[s] – but I repeat myself.”
Talking Points Memo‘s Josh Marshall brilliantly crystallized the futility of the right-wing vetting fantasy:
That’s most of what is behind the continued, and, in some ways, really passionately believed mantra on the right that Obama was never really ‘vetted.’ If we’d only said Kenya a few more times we could have done this thing!
But here’s the key: McCain – or more likely his senior advisors – weren’t doing Obama any favors. There’s a calculus in all of these decisions. Yes, going full race, terrorist pal Crazy on Obama probably would have gotten some voters more suspicious of Obama or more ginned up to vote against him. But it also would have repelled a lot of loosely affiliated voters in the middle. The McCain camp realized that. At least the more seasoned folks. And the Romney team gets it just as much.
The whole thing amounts to a fantasy of the right-wing id, not altogether unlike some of the hits on President Bush that the general public just didn’t take to. Everybody heard about Jeremiah Wright. Everybody found out the president is black. It didn’t turn the public against Obama when he was a relative unknown back in 2008. And it’s far less likely to today.
The plain fact is, Americans have watched President Obama in the White House for three years, and 70% of Americans approve of him as a person. More than half “strongly approve.” Indeed a Reuters-Ipsos poll found President Obama leads Mitt Romney among veterans, a group that John McCain carried by 10 points in 2008.
In a nutshell – squirrels like those – the Republican pipe-dream of “vetting” the president’s ‘radical’ past has been neutered by his three years in office. Now if Pootie the Precious will just come out from under the couch….
Good day and good nuts.