Long time readers of this blog know that I have been very critical of some of the policies of president Barack Obama and the Democratic party. But even I have been taken aback by the sheer viciousness of the attacks on him that have come, not just from nutcases, but from the very leaders of the Republican party.
In his note in the April 2012 issue of The Progressive magazine (subscription required), editor Matthew Rothschild is equally alarmed at the levels of vitriol that is pouring out during the current campaign and warns that it can have serious consequences.
The anti-Obama rhetoric that pours out of the mouths of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney is way over the top right now.
Gingrich keeps calling Obama a danger to the country.
Santorum keeps predicting a cataclysm if Obama is reelected.
Gingrich says Obama is not defending “our religion”—as if the United States has an official religion (other than patriotism or football).
Santorum says Obama practices a “phony religion.”
Romney says Obama is “waging a war on religion.”
Gingrich says Obama isn’t protecting the United States from Islamic terrorists. Maybe he should fact check that one with a guy named bin Laden.
Meanwhile, Santorum compares Obama to Hitler.
Romney, for his part, says if Obama is reelected, the United States will be hit with a nuclear weapon.
Not to be outdone, Gingrich declared, at the Arizona debate, that “all of us are more at risk today, men and women, boys and girls, than at any time in the history of this country.”
How about during the Civil War?
How about during World War II?
How about during the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Gingrich has taken this scaremongering to the end of the line, saying that “defeating Barack Obama becomes, in fact, a duty of national security.”
This is toxic stuff.
There are a lot of crazy people in America, and a lot of guns that are easily accessible to them.
With rhetoric like this, some nut might think he has “a duty” to take matters into his own hands.
Gingrich and Santorum and Romney are creating a very volatile atmosphere in this country, and they owe Obama and the nation a more temperate tone.
What is extraordinary is that these rants about how Obama’s re-election will mean that the US will cease to be a free country is driven not by concerns about his claims to have the right to murder even American citizens without due process, but by things like his health care reform legislation. If the modest reforms being pushed by Obama are a sign of impending serfdom, then surely all the other countries of the developed world, with their universal, single-payer systems, must be tyrannies?
The fact that this crazy apocalyptic rhetoric is striking a chord in the Republican party, when it should be obvious that Obama is a cautious, center-right, pro-oligarchic, status-quo maintaining candidate, seems to indicate that there is a well of deep irrationality that is being tapped.
In addition, there have been some extraordinarily crude and blatantly racist things that have been said about Obama, of which this is an example. What is interesting is how the perpetrators, if called on it, almost always say that they had no racist intent and are mystified that anyone took it that way. While I don’t think that Obama’s race is the only factor driving this insanity, it seems somehow easier for these people to envisage Obama as ‘the other’, a usurper whose legitimacy is always under suspicion, and thus anything goes in trying to oust him.