THE REAL ANGER - AT 9:50 A.M. ET: Frank Luntz, whom you've seen with his focus groups on Fox News, strikes back against those who say the anger with Obama is based on racism, a charge made by marginal former President Jimmy Carter. From the New York Daily News:
Obama's popularity hasn't tumbled because he's black. It's tumbled because he has come to represent Washington instead of those who sent him there...
...The real reason why 72% of the people I interviewed say that they're "mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore" has nothing to do with racism. No, their rage is about a lack of accountability, a lack of respect, and a lack of progress in the nation's capital.
It's not racial hatred you're hearing. It's political and economic outrage.
There's a reason why, according to the book survey, only 33% of Americans think their kids will have a better quality of life than they have. The country is demanding economic progress, yet all it sees is political paralysis and a government mired in sloth, avarice and bureaucratic meddling.
But Carter did unintentionally raise a point that deserves a full and candid discussion. When will it be possible in America to criticize Barack Obama and not be accused of racism? We cannot pat ourselves on the back for electing an African-American leader so enthusiastically and then simultaneously vilify his detractors by blaming their opposition to his policies on racial bias.
Our political leaders in Washington are still that - leaders. Ever more in the era of TMZ and Twitter, we the people seek in our elected representatives role models of conduct and of rhetoric. But more than that, we should jealously protect our American right to disagree, to criticize, and even to condemn.
At least for me, that's what democracy is all about. President Carter says he hears too many white southerners condemning Obama because of his race. Maybe he should get his hearing checked.
COMMENT: Luntz makes good sense. Look, there is some racism out there. But there's also sectionalism, sexism, and all the other isms that you find wrapped up neatly in the standard college orientation lecture. However, what we've seen in recent months isn't racism. It's outrage, as Luntz says. There's a feeling that the change we're getting isn't the change we wanted, and that Obama deceived us by running as a centrist, when in fact he governs from the left.
The only one who can quell the outrage is Barack Obama. So far, he seems willing to live with it in order to push his outsized agenda. He may turn out to be a one-term president, although I doubt if he thinks that's possible.
September 21, 2009