After Joe Wilson’s outburst on the House floor almost two weeks ago, the question of the Obama opposition and race suddenly became germane for public discussion. And the ensuing debate predictably settled down on two equally ludicrous propositions: it’s all about race or none of it is. Certainly there are myriad legitimate, non-racial reasons to oppose President Obama. And one need only have lived through the 1990s to know having black skin is by no means a necessary condition for the right to go positively berserk over your presidency.
For my own part, I would say that race plays a role for a significant number of Obama’s opponents on the right. That isn’t to say that they wouldn’t be opposing him anyway if he were white — but the character of the opposition is tinged by race. And even those who probably were just as against Bill Clinton cannot seem to help expressing their opposition in racialized language. For many it gives their opposition a special intensity — particularly for many anti-Obama voices from the South.
To that end, historian Doug Brinkley was on Hardball Friday afternoon. And he gave what strikes me as the best explanation I’ve yet heard for just what happened and why when Joe Wilson famously blew his stack during the president’s speech. Watch the video here.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.