Sunday, November 21, 2010

Obama’s Dissenters

Fanatical Obama dissenters, the folks on the right, Limbaugh, Beck, and their like, take any opportunity, whether they bother to check the facts or not, to disparage President Obama. Because I support this President, Obama’s dissenters are constantly jabbing me with the latest dirt they believe they have on him. The latest is the cost of Obama’s trip to Asia.

Most of the time, these claims are over-the-top, rejecting their fabricated claims I move on to reading thought-out and factual commentary. The other day, I read Tom Friedman’s article in the New York Times, “Too Good to Check.” His opening paragraph: “On Nov. 4, Anderson Cooper did the country a favor. He expertly deconstructed on his CNN show the bogus rumor that President Obama’s trip to Asia would cost $200 million a day. This was an important ‘story.’ It underscored just how far ahead of his time Mark Twain was when he said a century before the Internet, ‘A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.’ But it also showed that there is an antidote to malicious journalism — and that’s good journalism.”

As Friedman reported, on CNN’s 360 with Anderson Cooper, Republican Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota was asked the question, “You talk about cutting costs -- but what programs are you willing to cut?” In exploiting the question, she said, "Well I think we know that just within a day or so the President of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He's taking two thousand people, renting over 870 rooms. And these are 5-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel.”

Evidently, this report can be traced back to an anonymous Indian government official, quoted in a Press Trust of India article in which these numbers appeared. The article’s author is not known. You would expect a congressperson would be able to and with fidelity state factual and accurate information. Unfortunately, the story quickly saturated internet news, blogs, and conservative talk shows.

Bombastic Limbaugh, who is constantly lambasting the President on his radio show, said, “We had a caller with a good question regarding Obama's trip to India: ‘Is he coming back or fleeing to exile?’ I have a different theory. I don't know what are the policy reasons that Obama's going to India. I have no idea. But the idea that you're going to take 3,000 people and you're booking over 500 rooms in a hotel and you're taking 40 airplanes, what that tells me is that you have a guy and a family who thinks this nation owes 'em. And while they're in a position to, they are going to live off of this country as much as they can. They are gonna get theirs. That's what this tells me. No president has ever anywhere close to 40 airplanes, 3,000 people, 500 rooms in one hotel. And that's just one hotel, for a ten-day trip, $200 million a day. It's never been done before. This is somebody that says, ‘It's my turn. My turn, our turn to get what has been denied us all these years,’ that's what I think.”

These statements are undoubtedly pejorative references to a “welfare queen,” coined by Ronald Reagan, describing a woman from Chicago's South Side who milked the government's welfare program to live a lavish lifestyle, and an affirmative action presidency. Labels describing the poor and the redress of discrimination through measures to ensure equal opportunity, but just as important, they are perceived racial stereotypes.

I think America is worse off because of folks like Limbaugh, Beck, and Bachmann, who spiel false information before they check their facts and spew their hate. Limbaugh seems uninformed; the purpose of Obama’s Asian trip was made very clear. Moreover, I think there is an underlying de facto racism towards a black man who had the audacity to run and win the Presidency of the United States of America. At least here, within Limbaugh’s statements, it is obvious.

The message, as Friedman expressed it, is that “when the next crazy lie races around the world,” one’s first instinct should “be to doubt it, not repeat it.”