Many conservatives like to create a caricature of a liberal in their heads and blogs and then proceed to successfully assassinate that made up character. They imagine liberals as weak-minded hippies who don’t know math and want everyone to drive Prius and eat vegetables at best, and who’re lazy, unemployed parasites who demand handouts at worst. That’s why it’s so upsetting for the conservatives when the exemplary members of our society, self-made true capitalists like Warren Buffett as a recent example, come out and disprove their case. There was no shortage of right-wing hacks trying to point out to Buffett why being socially responsible is an abhorrent human trait! It is customary for one to ascribe negative qualities to a person he already doesn’t like, to project qualities that subject loathes and the object doesn’t possess. That’s the case between conservatives and Obama – they award him qualities he doesn’t have and then hate him for it.
The fact is that Obama is center, even center-right. But nothing can placate the right, even if Obama brings Reagan from the dead on national TV, cuts all the taxes and drowns the government in the tub. They see an untrustworthy black man, burdened, in their imagination, with centuries old generational grievances that he wants to redress at the expense of a white man, thus they look at him, watch his every move and find evidence that he is the man that they have drawn in their minds. It reminds me of deeply religious people seeing Jesus face or Virgin Mary in inanimate objects like toasts and rocks. They see it because they want to see it. Except in Obama they see a socialist dictator or a petty criminal depending on the depth of one’s imagination.
Many believe first and foremost that Obama is going to take their hard-earned money away from them by raising taxes. Jokes about being robbed by Obama as a thuggish black man are abound. Oh, how I wish sometimes that he was indeed from the ghetto! Here mine and the Right’s wishes converge at last. They would thus get confirmation of their theories and someone who fits their narrative; and I and the lefties would get someone who punches back at them.
He won as a liberal but governs as a moderate Republican, but to acknowledge that for the Conservatives is harder than to cut off their arm. Careers have been built on hating Obama. Even Reagan raised taxes at some point but Obama went out of his way not to, where does that put him – to the right of Reagan? It is offensive for conservative to even think such thoughts. He’s supposed to be tax and spend liberal, he has to be, otherwise the case that was carefully being built against him for the last 3 years should be tossed! So they pile on.
Obama is a human receptacle of some sorts, a blessing for conservatives on whom they can project their darkest human qualities. That’s why there’s no lack of conservatives rushing, elbowing each other to the microphone or the TV screen to insult Obama in the most innovative and creative ways and high-fiving each other for daring and originality. Bashing Obama has become a crowded trade, a bubble even, to use market terms. He is a gift, he’s that vagabond black man passing through the town on whom all the unsolved murders can be pinned by a local police chief. If only Obama’s coke dealer or an intern under the table were found to complete the picture – imagine such luck!
Republican Congressman Joe Wilson infamously cried “Liar” at Obama when the latter said that no illegal immigrants will be covered in the health bill. And the facts confirm it. But that would mean that Obama does not wantonly spend taxpayers’ dollars on illegal immigrants – a notion that belies the entire carefully built narrative around Obama’s personality. He stubbornly fails to be reckless and hasty with other people’s money. To once and for all quell the issue of what taxes Obama raised here\’s Heritage foundation’s page (a right-wing enclave, so that there’s no accusations of liberal bias) with list of taxes that he did raise (the best they could find was cigarette tax and tanning salon tax, proceeds of which go to children’s health insurance programs. Clearly a path to socialism!). Obama never has raised any income taxes, which are the taxes conservatives have in mind every time they talk about them.
I fault Obama for not shifting the tax debate on our turf. We’re not demanding the conservatives to show how trickle-down economics and lower taxes benefit the economy. The income tax rate is the lowest in decades, but all this time it’s been a downhill for the middle class. The argument that lower taxes make businesses hire people doesn’t stand a simple test: the corporations are awash with cash right now and they continue to lay people off.
Having this discussion would be such a winning issue for the Democrats and yet they reduced themselves to placating the anti-tax Republicans and teapartiers by demonstrating that Obama is really a fiscal conservative. What do they expect conservatives faced with evidence to say – “Oh, ok then!”? We’re at the point where it is taboo to even talk about tax increases. Grover Norquist may not have succeeded yet in reducing the government to a bathtub size, but he succeeded in shaping the debate we’re having now. Obama is unable to govern as a Democrat. That’s his tragedy.