This past weekend, a rodeo clown at the Missouri State Fair wore a mask to mock President Obama. Apparently the performance went well over the line between the sort of slapstick humor typical of rodeo clowns and mean spirited racism.
Here’s a description from one of the members of the audience.
“It was the usual until the very end at bull riding,” he said. “As they were bringing the bulls into the chute and prepping them … they bring out what looks like a dummy. The announcer says ‘Here’s our Obama dummy, or our dummy of Obama.
“They mentioned the president’s name, I don’t know, 100 times. It was sickening,” Beam said. “It was feeling like some kind of Klan rally you’d see on TV.”
Unfortunately, this Missouri rodeo clown is part of a vocal minority who feel that the man who has won two national elections fair and square somehow doesn’t deserve the office that he occupies.
This is driven by an unprecedented assault on both the man and the office by the Republican Party.
Paul Ryan recently responded to Obama’s latest proposal for a corporate tax cut. Obama was offering to work with Congress to overhaul business taxes in exchange for a guarantee that the revenue gains be used create new jobs through spending on roads and infrastructure.
“The president claims his economic agenda is for the middle class. But it’s actually for the well-connected…There’s no doubt that it works well for them. But for the rest of us, it’s not working at all.”
Ryan further protested that Obama is “interested in tax reform for corporations — but not for families or small business.” He also accused Obama of implementing health care and regulatory policies that favor big businesses and big banks.
Paul Ryan struck a different tone during the 2012 Presidential campaign. He accused Obama of “sowing social unrest and class resentment,” of supporting “a government-run economy” and of “denigrating people who are successful.” He has charged the president with leading the nation toward “a cradle-to-grave, European-style social welfare state.”
So which is it? Is Obama a class-baiting socialist or a corporate sellout?
Boehner, asked at a news conference about Obama’s series of speeches on the economy, replied: “If I had poll numbers as low as his, I’d probably be out doing the same thing if I were him.” Obama’s job-approval rating is 46 percent. Boehner’s is half that.
Mitt Romney called Obama a “weak president,” and Newt Gingrich, during the 2012 campaign, called Obama “so weak that he makes Jimmy Carter look strong.”
Yet in January Boehner said that Obama planned to annihilate the Republican party, ““[G]iven what we heard yesterday about the president’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me and should be clear to all of you that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans,” Boehner said. “So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me tell you, I do believe that is their goal. To just shove us in the dustbin of history.”
Rep. Issa said Obama is guilty of “imperial behavior” and “abuse of power.” Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky, asserts Obama is “someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch.” And Rep. Louie Gohmert, of Texas, says Obama is “a tyrannical despot.”
So which is it? Is Obama a weakling or a tyrant?
During the intervention in Libya, Gingrich demanded in early March 2011 that the United States should “exercise a no-fly zone this evening.” Two weeks later, after Obama took the action that would bring down Moammar Gaddafi, Gingrich said, “I would not have intervened.”
After the Benghazi attacks, Republicans lined up to criticize the President for not having enough security at the embassy in Benghazi and ignoring the mounting tensions Ambassador Stevens was documenting.
Fast forward to this month when the administration closed embassies across the Middle East in response to an intercepted al Qaeda communication. “Terrorism works — because we’re closing all of our embassies and consulates on one day,” said Rep. Ted Poe, the chairman of the House’s terrorism and nonproliferation panel. “Our embassies cannot operate with a bunker mentality in foreign countries,” he said. “Our embassies are there to interact with the people of that country. I hope we don’t get into this bunker mentality mode.”
So which is it? Is Obama a tone deaf risk taker or a terrified bunker dweller?
I could continue for quite a while, but the picture is clear.
The only consistent message coming from Republicans is that Obama is always wrong. He is wrong if he acts. He is wrong if he doesn’t act. His ideas are always wrong even when he borrows them from Republicans (Obamacare, corporate tax cuts, and no fly zones).
Republicans may feel that tearing down the President is an effective strategy to get them back into the White House. The problem is that if they demonstrate that this is an effective strategy, it will be used on them too. And if they do ever return to the White House, they may not recognize the smoldering ruin they had to create to get there.