Show Some Respect, Boy

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September 14, 2009 8:51 a.m.

Kudos to Maureen Dowd for going there. ‘There’ being some public recognition of what should be inescapable by now: that a lot of the more electric and intemperate reactions to President Obama come from people who cannot or will not accept that a black man is the President of the United States.

I think Dowd was right to see it behind Wednesday night’s outburst from Rep. Joe Wilson (R) of South Carolina, a man previously best known as one of the last hold-outs for keeping the confederate flag flying over the Capitol in South Carolina. And you didn’t have to wait for the night of the speech though. The day before the speech, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) of Georgia said Obama needed to show some “humility” when he showed up on Capitol Hill Wednesday night. I’ve heard presidents criticized, pilloried, even villified for lots of things. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard one warned to show some humility.

It’s no accident that both comments came from white men from the Deep South in their early to mid-60s. I won’t say because I don’t think this is all the GOP, just as I don’t think that all the opposition to Obama is rooted in atavism and paranoia. But it is a big chunk of it. And it’s the ‘chunk’ that’s got the voice at the moment and increasingly seems to be calling the shots.

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