With Friends Like Maureen Dowd, Obama Doesn't Need Enemies

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd chalked up the Wilson outburst to ol’ fashioned bigotry.

“Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber," Dowd wrote. "Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.”

Likewise, recently, during one of my regular appearances on National Public Radio, I was disappointed to hear a liberal colleague -- who, not surprisingly, happens to be an unflinching Obama supporter -- insist that critics like Wilson would never have been so disrespectful to a white president. This is a variation of the ridiculous argument that most of the criticism of Obama is coming from people who are uncomfortable with the idea of having a black president. Besides, apparently, my friend has forgotten how disrespectful groups such as Code Pink or MoveOn.org were during the Bush administration toward Alberto Gonzales, the nation's first Hispanic attorney general. Was that about racism too?

I couldn’t let it go. I pointed out to my liberal colleagues that Obama is currently bleeding support from white voters who were once in his camp. According to recent surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, Obama’s job approval rating among white Democrats has dropped 11 points since his 100-day mark in April, and I suggested that one of the reasons for the slide is this irresponsible rhetoric from some of his supporters that his critics are motivated by racism. Keep it up, I warned, and an 11-point drop will grow to 15 points and then 20 points. And then, before you know it, you’re looking at a one-term presidency.

And if that happens, as much they’d like to, Obama’s supporters won’t be able to blame his critics. The GOP is the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. They’ll have to blame themselves -- for not demanding more of their president and for subjecting him to what his predecessor, in the realm of the education reform, used to call “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”