I would suggest that it also means that there’s something of a disconnect between these Progressive pundits and the voting public. Much like pundits on the right have their ideal candidates, writers such as Pareene do as well, and Booker quite obviously doesn’t fit into that definition. Perhaps it’s because he hasn’t said the magic words on NSA surveillance or some other issue. Perhaps it’s because they just feel that he’s become too full of himself. Perhaps it’s just because there was never really any suspense in this election and they needed something right about. Whatever the reason, the animus toward Booker on the left has been more than a little surprising especially considering that he is going to be a reliable Democratic vote for as long as he’s in the Senate. Given that it’s New Jersey and Booker is relatively young, could be quite a long time.
Now I have no idea if Mr. Farenthold believes this or is simply afraid to challenge the kooky theories of a constituent. In either case, this exchange is (for Republicans at least) depressing. The assertion that it is “unfortunate” that the whole birth certificate issue is “out of the barn” and therefore nothing can be done about it is the observation of a fevered mind. And to assert that “you could probably get the votes in the House of Representatives” to impeach President Obama is to pitch one’s tent in the middle of Fantasy Island.
I understand that congressmen say stupid things from time to time. And I understand that Mr. Farenthold is an obscure back-bencher who doesn’t speak for most of his colleagues. Still, the fact that a member of the House of Representatives would treat lunatic theories as serious is a problem. It does reflect poorly not only on Farenthold but the party he represents. And what he said is damaging, since it will confirm in the minds of rational people that at least among some of its elected representatives, the Republican Party is comprised of conspiratorial nuts.
Hillary Clinton has decided to give a series of major policy addresses, countering the expectation that she would essentially disappear from the public eye for two years until she announces whether or not she’s running for President. It’s a savvy move, allowing her to take advantage of celebrity and media spotlight to bring attention to issues that she care for, and to make sure that she doesn’t become yesterday’s news by the time the primaries kick off.
After all, at this point in the 2008 cycle — so in Aug. 2005 — no one viewed Barack Obama as an ‘08 presidential contender (in fact, he had served just seven months in the U.S. Senate). Also at this point in the ’08 cycle, Hillary Clinton was seen as the overwhelming favorite on the Democratic side. (How did that turn out?) Back then, George Allen (R-VA) was considered at the least the co-frontrunner for the GOP nomination. (He lost his bid for re-election a year later.) And at this point in the 2008 cycle, George W. Bush had yet to see his poll numbers nosedive (Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. on Aug. 29, 2005). Just something for everyone to consider with more than three years until Election Day 2016…
What might be seen as racist in one context – because the president is black – may not be in another. What some may see as a legitimate reclaiming of sovereignty from European bureaucrats can also be motivated by bald “bongo-bongo-land” racism. This is not either-or. And if it’s not either-or, we have to make a decision as to whether to hunt for these manifestations of racism or ignore them and get on with the actual arguments at hand, regardless of their psychological motivation. I favor as a purely pragmatic measure not jumping on every incident like this to yell racism – not because it is never racist, but because that charge cannot truly be proven without peering into opaque human souls, because it diverts potentially constructive debate into moral posturing, and because it is crowding out our discourse with gotchas that don’t really advance substantive debate.
And now I’ve written an entire post about whether certain people are racists. See how the cycle continues?