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The War on Obama, and The Death of Civility in America

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Saying anything good about Barack Obama these days is a risky undertaking. His opponents are so determined to bring him down, that anyone offering even the thinnest of praise can expect a vicious personal attack, totally out of proportion to the comment.

According to his right-wing critics, Barack Obama has no other goal than the destruction of the American way of life, and anyone daring to defend him is an un-American socialist, and an enemy to be silenced by any means necessary.

Does this sound pretty ridiculous? The Republicans, spear-headed by the Tea Party don’t seem to think so as they continue their vitriolic attacks on everything the President does or says. Even Mike Huckabee is advising against attacking everything Obama, but nobody in the GOP is listening.

The latest assault on the President, focuses on his environmental initiatives. Republicans would basically prefer that industry be free of pollution regulations, which fits in with their overall belief that big-business does best when free of any government control.

It is hard to understand the persistent right-wing belief in this philosophy, given that the economy collapsed during George W. Bush’s watch. Most of the problems originated in lack of government oversight, especially in the financial sector. Mortgage lenders knowingly financed unqualified borrowers, while financial institutions were betting against themselves on the stock market, simply to enrich a handful of corporate leaders.

Barack Obama’s supposed sins include the state of the economy, the budget, and the deficit. Republicans choose to remain completely oblivious to the fact that the Democrats now in office, inherited this mess from the previous administration, and while there may be some justification in blaming the President for not turning things around faster, he wasn’t the one who brought it all crashing down.

When Mr. Obama began his term, the recession was well underway. Although usually accepted as starting in December 2007, this economic disaster was brewing well ahead of that date. By some perversion of logic, the GOP blames a recession which began during a Republican administration on the Democrats, while claiming responsibility for policies which brought about its end, six months into the Obama regime.

The ballooning budget and deficit can also be laid at the Bush doorstep. Instead of shrinking, government grew, the new Department of Homeland Security was created, and trillions of dollars were added to the budget. The final legacy of Republican fiscal restraint was the handing out of 700 billion dollars in bail-out money to the financial sector, some of which was promptly paid in bonuses to the very people who brought the nation to the brink of ruin.

At one time respect for differing opinions accompanied criticism, but destruction of the enemy (anyone who isn’t a Republican) seems to have become all-important in this relentless war on Barack Obama. It is hard to imagine that the endless toxic rhetoric aimed at the Democrats is motivated by a desire for a better life for a majority of Americans, and not a yearning for an America more in keeping with Republican beliefs.

Bob Burnett claims that, “In the final analysis, contemporary Republican ideology has three interlocked components: promoting a permanent state of war; favoring the interests of the rich over those of the poor; and relegating women to be second-class citizens whose rights are subordinate to those of men.” If there is any truth in this, than it isn’t hard to see why they loath a Democrat who favors an end to foreign wars, wants decent health care for all, and champions the rights of all Americans, regardless of gender or race.

Barack Obama hasn’t turned out to be the savior that so many hoped he would be, but he also isn’t the nation-destroying devil that his opponents see. He has failed to carry through on some of what he set out to achieve. Some of this is his own fault, and some of it is the Republican determination to undermine his every effort, no matter what the cost to the country.

The most serious casualty in this war, is the death of civility and fair play in America. If the GOP makes it into the White House in 2012, their first priorities should be restoring the belief that people of all political stripes can work together for the good of the nation, and that equality does exist in America.

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About Ian Stevenson

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I don’t usually bother to do this, but your article is so full of untruths, half-truths and ignorance that I feel compelled to give it a point by point assessment.

    The latest assault on the President, focuses on his environmental initiatives…It is hard to understand the persistent right-wing belief in this philosophy, given that the economy collapsed during George W. Bush’s watch.

    You start off talking about environmental policy and then without making any connection between the two you seem to blame right-wing environmental policies on Bush’s mishandling of the economy. It’s a non sequitur. Makes no sense.

    Most of the problems originated in lack of government oversight, especially in the financial sector. Mortgage lenders knowingly financed unqualified borrowers, while financial institutions were betting against themselves on the stock market, simply to enrich a handful of corporate leaders.

    Based on financial policies initiated by a Democrat congressional majority under the Clinton administration and overseen by Democrats who were aware of the danger of these mortgage banking policies and repeatedly ignored warnings in testimony about what their policies would result in.

    Republicans choose to remain completely oblivious to the fact that the Democrats now in office, inherited this mess from the previous administration,

    They inherited a recession and by ill-considered policies turned it into a depression of indeterminate length.

    When Mr. Obama began his term, the recession was well underway. Although usually accepted as starting in December 2007, this economic disaster was brewing well ahead of that date. By some perversion of logic, the GOP blames a recession which began during a Republican administration on the Democrats, while claiming responsibility for policies which brought about its end, six months into the Obama regime.

    Do you live in the same world as the rest of us? The recession didn’t come to an end 6 months ago. The recession has been steadily deepening, was lengthened by Obama’s policies and is now on the verge of becoming something much worse – even a full on depression.

    Are you so drowned in kool-aid that you don’t realize that real unemployment is double the reported figure or that we are in the beginning of a period of hyperinflation which will devastate the country?

    The ballooning budget and deficit can also be laid at the Bush doorstep. Instead of shrinking, government grew, the new Department of Homeland Security was created, and trillions of dollars were added to the budget.

    Not actually true. Bush did increase the budget, but only by about $1 trillion over 8 years. In comparison on a per year basis Obama has increased the budget by almost 40% more per year.

    The final legacy of Republican fiscal restraint was the handing out of 700 billion dollars in bail-out money to the financial sector, some of which was promptly paid in bonuses to the very people who brought the nation to the brink of ruin.

    Much of which was never actually disbursed and other portions of which were paid back with interest. Less than half of the TARP money was ever actually spent and of that all but $34 billion has already been repaid to the government under terms included in the TARP bill.

    I don’t like the idea of TARP at all, but the fact is that the actual cost to the taxpayer was minimal and will likely all be repaid.

    In contrast, the Obama administration has already spent more of its stimulus bill money with no guarantees of any recovery of any of it, as well as allowing the Federal Reserve to spend $7.1 trillion on off budget bailouts without any oversight at all.

    It is hard to imagine that the endless toxic rhetoric aimed at the Democrats is motivated by a desire for a better life for a majority of Americans, and not a yearning for an America more in keeping with Republican beliefs.

    A better life for all Americans is exactly what Republicans believe in. We just want everyone included, not just the special interests the Democrats favor.

    As for the hostility, your next paragraph shows exactly why the right is so hostile. No one likes being lied about.

    Bob Burnett claims that, “In the final analysis, contemporary Republican ideology has three interlocked components: promoting a permanent state of war; favoring the interests of the rich over those of the poor; and relegating women to be second-class citizens whose rights are subordinate to those of men.” If there is any truth in this,

    Except that there is no truth to it. It’s exactly the kind of inflammatory and deceptive rhetoric you claim to object to.

    than it isn’t hard to see why they loath a Democrat who favors an end to foreign wars, wants decent health care for all, and champions the rights of all Americans, regardless of gender or race.

    Who on earth are you talking about here? Certainly not Obama who has prolonged our wars, produced a disastrous healthcare nightmare and only favors the rights of special groups he wants to set above others.

    The most serious casualty in this war, is the death of civility and fair play in America. If the GOP makes it into the White House in 2012, their first priorities should be restoring the belief that people of all political stripes can work together for the good of the nation, and that equality does exist in America.

    But can we work together with a politiical party which bases its success on lying and on the oppression and exploitation of the poor and minorities?

    Dave

  • El Bicho

    Speaking of “untruths, half-truths and ignorance,” the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of such dates, disagrees with you. They “determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in June 2009. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion.”

    Guess they should have checked with you

  • http://www.carminasaturaqueamericana.com Irvin F. Cohen

    El Bug-oh

    In response to you last sentence.

    Yeah!

  • http://www.carminasaturaqueamericana.com Irvin F. Cohen

    Correction:

    Make that YOUR “last…”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    You start off talking about environmental policy and then without making any connection between the two you seem to blame right-wing environmental policies on Bush’s mishandling of the economy. It’s a non sequitur. Makes no sense.

    It ceases to be a non sequitur if one reinserts the text you replaced with an ellipsis, to make it look like one.

  • Baronius

    I think it was Sid Caesar who said that tragedy is when you break your arm, and comedy is when someone else dies.

    I can understand if Ian feels like politics became ugly two years ago, because in the past two years his guy has been criticized. But surely he can be objective enough to remember the incivility of politics in the Bush years, the slanders against Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, and Cheney. He may not believe that Obamacare is socialism, but he should be able to recognize that the tone is identical to that of the people who condemned Social Security reform as abandonment of the poor. The birthers’ claims that the presidency was stolen are identical to the claims about Bush in Florida in 2000.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    The incivility goes back further than that, Baronius, at least as far as the Clinton administration. I was still living back in Europe at the time, and it could be heard (and smelled) from all the way over there.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Liberals should criticize Obama for not doing what he claimed he would, instead they’ve taken to starting with the fact hat he’s a Democrat, and then defending whatever he does, even when he continues atrocities.

    He ran for office on a platform that claimed to be against all the things he is doing. Continued extraordinary rendition, warrantless wiretapping, Bagram torture, condemning whistleblowers and imprisoning them (more than any other president in US history he is going after whistleblowers).

    He is a liar and a con.

  • Doug Hunter

    “He is a liar and a con.”

    No need for harsh words. Pointing out that he’s a politician is enough. The only way to be elected is to create a carefully crafted public facade triangulating your position based on what polls indicate the population will respond to, then sell out your principles to the highest bidder for campaign funds. If you’re not a sellout and you’re not a fake/fraud/liar you are utterly unelectable.

  • http://www.carminasaturaqueamericana.com Irvin F. Cohen

    Dear Bah-wrongius RE your # 6,

    Again I am amazed and pleasantly surprised – cause you’re clearly Bah-right-ius on this one too!

    But be careful to avoid the tendency of many here at Blogcritics who tend to fall into the trap of ‘moral equivalency’.

    Otherwise, still an atta boy – which might be the “kiss of death” for you as I have far surpassed even Alan Kurtz as the devil himself and incarnate, and also as the absolute root of all evil in the world. Especially amongst the many commies, Marxists and fascists who truly are myriad and legion within these pages.

    I wonder however whether this comment will survive, I have a feeling about this one, and it feels just like my last three comments I have made which the Comments Editor has deleted, one in only three minutes time – I imagine a record for him.

    Well, we’ll see if I’m right or I’m wrong, won’t we Rosie pooh?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Dave’s comment is more interesting than the article, but not in a good way. Of course, he supplies a generous helping of his own “untruths, half-truths and ignorance”…not surprising, since that has become his specialty on these pages: propaganda.

    They inherited a recession and by ill-considered policies turned it into a depression of indeterminate length.
    Any economists you can cite who believe this?

    The recession didn’t come to an end 6 months ago. The recession has been steadily deepening, was lengthened by Obama’s policies and is now on the verge of becoming something much worse – even a full on depression.
    Again, who agrees with you except other propagandists? Anyone with any facts and figures?

    real unemployment is double the reported figure
    This has always been true; it is not an invention of the current government. The numbers have been steadily but slowly improving, and quite sharply so in the Dec-Jan-Feb 2010-11 period

    we are in the beginning of a period of hyperinflation which will devastate the country
    Evidence? Citations?

    Obama has increased the budget by almost 40% more per year.
    If you take out temporary emergency measures, this figure does not hold. The projected budget deficit begins to drop in FY12 and drops further after that. Long term, we must address Medicare costs; the health bill you so despise is the first real attempt to do that; more must follow.

    A better life for all Americans is exactly what Republicans believe in.
    Let me translate: “We believe in a better life for all Americans who make a lot of money; as for those who make less money, their incomes stagnating or regressing for three decades or more….well, it’s obviously their own fault so why should we care?”

    Obama has prolonged our wars, produced a disastrous healthcare nightmare and only favors the rights of special groups he wants to set above others.
    On the wars, the president has steered a middle course; if he had precipitously ended our involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan, what would the consequences have been?
    Most of the health care act has yet to take effect. For whom will it be a nightmare? People who can get affordable care through exchanges, without regard to their pre-existing conditions?
    And which special groups? Poor people? Middle class people? People who respect science? People who are victimized by predatory bankers?

    But can we work together with a politiical party which bases its success on lying and on the oppression and exploitation of the poor and minorities?
    Indeed, a good question, but applied to the wrong party of course

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Cindy, I agree:

    Any torture is too much. Any open-ended detention without charges is unacceptable.

    The Obama administration has moved cautiously in an effort to avoid undesired consequences [like a new terror attack…or of course losing a reelection campaign]. But if the president had no intention of actually closing Gitmo, it seems unlikely he would have held a highly publicized Jan 2009 signing of an executive order to do so.

    There is so much opposition to moving detainees to the US and trying them here, that policymakers got boxed in.

    It can be frustrating, but I can’t agree that it is about lying or a “con.” For example, have they sent new detainees to Guantanamo? Have they had justice department lawyers writing disgusting memos to justify torture as an acceptable US policy, as we had under Bush?

    And if, for example, Hillary Clinton were president, we would have an even more hawkish policy than we do now.

  • Baronius

    Dread, if you want to take it before the Bush Administration, I think you can go back to the impeachment of Clinton. I think the impeachment was prosecuted in good faith, and I know how I would have voted. But it created a nexus of negative political emotion, a belief on both sides that the other side was taking something that didn’t belong to them.

    There’s always animosity in politics in every country, and you could point to any number of negative eras in American history. I think there’s been a constant heightened anger in politics since the impeachment. For 2/3 of that stretch there’s been a Republican in the White House, and that makes it hard to stomach a liberal’s discovery of the negative tone in January 2009.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Baronius,

    Excellent analysis, and I concur almost in its entirety. I disagree about the motives for Clinton’s impeachment, though.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Baronius, a “negative” tone in a discussion about real issues is one thing. A barrage of attacks based on paranoid fantasy [birtherism, death panels, “destroyer of liberty”] is quite another. [And equating birtherism to the disputed 2000 election is utter nonsense.]

  • El Bicho

    “I think you can go back to the impeachment of Clinton.”

    but not to the accusations of the Clintons being involved in Vince Foster’s murder?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The Clinton impeachment was based on a failed investigation that should never have been started. Then prosecutors stumbled on a potential “perjury trap” and decided against all rationality to pursue it. The president came out of the process with a 66% approval rating, with most Americans wanting us to “Move On” [thus helping name a liberal activist group].

    The impeachment was pure partisan animosity, the culmination of a six-year [failed] effort to discredit candidate and then president Clinton.

    I love how many conservatives now pretend that Bill Clinton is their favorite Democrat. [You heard this a lot during the last two years, as part of anti-Obama rhetoric.] [And I realize I didn’t hear it from Baronius.]

  • Baronius

    Paranoid fantasy –

    > Katherine Harris stole the election for Bush
    > opposition to federal funding for new lines of fetal stem cells = anti-science
    > “9/11 was an inside job”
    > “Bush lied people died”
    > social security reform = putting the elderly on the streets
    > armchair psychoanalysis of Bush’s Oedipal complex
    > Iraq invasion is a distraction from the failure to capture OBL
    > “no blood for oil”
    > nonstop references to Hitler
    > FEMA and the black helicopters
    > Diebold
    > “President Bush doesn’t care about black people”
    > “Bush will cancel the 2008 elections”

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    That’s quite a list of unrelated things believed and not believed by various groups of people, certainly not Democrats as a whole. You won’t catch me making those arguments, and I’m sure we won’t hear you espousing birth certificate doubts. But Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and others have been happy to capitalize on paranoid fears about Obama’s “otherness” for their own political — and financial — gain.

  • Baronius

    El B – As I said, you can always find examples of excessive anger or irrationality in politics. I do think that there’ve been two vitriolic periods in American politics during my lifetime. The first began between 1965 and 1968, when the 60’s idealism turned to something ugly, and ended between the pardoning of Nixon and the election of Carter. The second era I’ve already identified. There were a few moments of real harmony during those eras (moon landing, bicentennial, 9/12), and there were a few rough moments in the peaceful eras (JFK’s assassination, obviously), but I still think the generalization is valid.

  • Baronius

    Handy – I realize that you didn’t accuse me of the paranoid fantasies you mentioned. I’m not accusing you of the ones I mentioned. I think you’ve got to admit that there were a lot of paranoid fantasies against the Bush Administration, and that a sizable number of people held (and hold) the positions I referred to. I’d bet that half of those statements would be applause lines at a Democratic Convention.

    Is Bill Clinton the conservatives’ favorite Democrat? Well, the only other Democratic presidents during my lifetime were Johnson, Carter, and Obama, so…maybe.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    My favorite Democrat? Actually, I’d say it was FDR, with Truman being a close second.

    During my lifetime, I’d say it would have to be Hillary.

  • Arch Conservative

    “When Mr. Obama began his term, the recession was well underway.”

    Yes and Democrats had been in control of both Houses of Congress for the previous two years but that little factoid doesn’t fit into your MO which is to blame everything bad that’s happened in the last decade int his nation on Bush and the GOP right Ian?

    “The most serious casualty in this war, is the death of civility and fair play in America.”

    I know we’ve just met Ian but I find it hard to believe that you’d attempt to imply with a straight face, the the GOp’s treatment of Obama is somehow more objectionable than the manner in which the Democrats and leftists treated Bush while he was in office. Turns out Bush wasn’t the evil boogeyman the left would have us believe either. The country was still standing when he exited stage right and we finally got the “change we can believe in.”

    It’s always amusing when a leftist bemoans the lack of civility coming from the right in the United States in 2011. Anytime you feel like going tit for tat with me in pointing out examples of uncivil, crass, thuggish behavior coming from the other side, just say the word Ian. I’ll bury you!

    When the rubber meets the road it is more prudent to subscribe to a sociopolitical philosophy or ideology if you will rather than a mainstream political party as both parties have shown their utter disdain for the needs and desires of the American people when those silly things actually interfere with the pursuit of power.

  • Baronius

    You don’t have to go all the way back to 2009 to see the Democrats’ incivility. Look at the reaction to Governor Walker: the Hitler comparisons, the violent rhetoric. The Democrats’ “new tone” apparently permits a Wisconsin assemblymen to to tell a colleague that she’s “f—ing dead”.

  • Arch Conservative

    The left certain doesn’t have a monopoly on uncivil, violent behavior but I don’t think it would be unfair to claim their market share dwarfs everyone else’s.