As the very existence of Obama’s “Fight the Smears” evinces, Barack Obama has been denigrated unapologetically by elements of the fringe and lunatic right in ways that are openly racist, bigoted, and xenophobic. This meme does not appear to end there; even on the left, aspersions of Obama’s “un-Americanness” comprised part of Mark Penn’s proposed strategy for electing Hillary Clinton. And of course, this theme has been percolating among the mainstream right, as Fox News in laughably somber tones pushed the notion that Obama’s successful European trip had a “downside”. But make no mistake, the terror of basic racism and the horror of the mainstream establishment are two beasts of a different breed. This struck me reading Maureen Dowd’s column today.
Americans, suspicious that the Obamas have benefited from affirmative action without being properly grateful, and skeptical that Michelle really likes “The Brady Bunch” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” reject the 47-year-old black contender as too uppity and untested.
Of all the criticism hurled at Obama, this seems to be the most conspiciously omitted and frankly, surprised me. Rather, when Ed Rendell compared Barack Obama to Adlai Stevenson, the implication, quite the contrary to what Dowd suggests, is that Obama is unrelatable because of his much lampooned exceptionality. Because Obama, having relied purely on his own talents and intellect to rise to the apex of American politics, stands to manifestly repudiate the comforting notion of dynastic and rigged American primacy.
Barack Obama’s ascendancy embodies the logical extreme of American opportunity and so doing heralds the fall of an America whose promise had remained yet unfulfilled. And give Fox News credit, when viewed through the historic facts of systemic oppression and widespread nepotism, Barack Obama’s rise is distinctly un-American. But in its encapsulation of an America unfettered, Obama’s candidacy is complete. If Barack Obama fails to win the presidency, nepotism and the entrenched elite will have won the battle, but the war will soon be over. This is what frightens the effete conservative movement.
UPDATE: In rereading Marueen Dowd’s quote, I think my point is basically what she insinuates obliquely when she suggests Obama wasn’t “properly grateful”. I was more immediately reacting to her assertion of Obama as a product of affirmative action, which couldn’t be further from the truth.