September 1, 2012
JAMES TARANTO ON SUBJECTING OBAMA TO SOME HEALTHY RIDICULE:
Here was our favorite line from Mitt Romney’s convention speech: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”
We liked it even better when we saw that the New York Times’s Nicholas Kristof had tweeted: “Seriously, Romney’s speech esp troubled me by mocking rising seas/climate change. The dismissiveness was appalling.” Gaia is a jealous Goddess, and She will not be mocked!
It actually hadn’t occurred to us that the Romney line was a repudiation of global warmism. If so, that’s lagniappe. What we enjoyed was the deft way in which Romney punctured Obama’s self-aggrandizement–by quoting his most immodest promise ever, pausing for effect, then making an almost comically modest promise of his own. . . .
Obama’s journalistic supporters live in a bizarre alternate reality in which a politician’s actual words mean nothing. When the president says something foolish and offensive, he didn’t say that. Meanwhile every comment from a Republican can be translated, through a process of free association, to: “We don’t like black people.”
The question of race is central to the leftist media’s protectiveness toward Obama, who has both benefited and suffered from a racial double standard. As the late Geraldine Ferraro pointed out in 2008–and was attacked for pointing out–Obama would not have risen so quickly had he been white. No sane person believed that stuff about casting down the oceans and mending “the planet,” but a lot of Americans thought electing a black president would be a salve for racial wounds.
Obama rose in 2008 as a symbol of racial aspirations–the black aspiration to be recognized as fully American and the white aspiration to redeem the sin of racism. That made it difficult to criticize him, much less to mock him. John McCain’s campaign was hobbled by a fear of appearing racist, and Obama himself received a degree of deference that is excessive for any politician.
The left has not moved beyond seeing Obama as a racial symbol, and that is for two reasons. First, his record as president doesn’t have much else to recommend it, so that crying racism is about the best they can do as an argument for re-election. Second, it is of great psychological importance to American left-liberals to believe that their opponents are racist and they themselves are not. Their self-image as a moral elite revolves around the imputation of invidious racial attitudes to others.
Romney and the Republicans, however, have moved on. . . . It is healthy for America that the president be criticized and even mocked. Deference to a Dear Leader has no place in a democracy. It’s healthy for race relations, too, that he be judged on his record rather than held to a lower standard in the name of racial progress. When a black politician is treated just like any other politician, that’s genuine progress.
Except to, er, “progressives.”