Over at Political Animal, Steve Benen joined the discussion over Tim Pawlenty’s recent remark that “Any doofus can go to Washington.” (There has been a good deal of mirth in the wake of that remark, actually–since one interpretation is that Pawlenty himself is something of a “doofus.” ) But viewed in context, Pawlenty seemed to be complaining about the lack of bold action from both Congress and the Administration.
Benen noted the disconnect between Pawlenty’s complaint and the Tea Party’s dark view of President Obama.
“But what I found especially interesting about this line was Pawlenty trying to label President Obama as someone who wants to “maintain the status quo.” For a while now, it was a given in Republican circles that Obama was a wild-eyed radical trying to undo the entire American experiment, turning everything we hold dear upside down. The president, we were told, was responsible for pursuing too much change, too quickly. It led conservatives to stand athwart history, yelling, “Stop.”
And yet, Pawlenty apparently doesn’t see it that way. Obama, we’re told, isn’t radical enough when it comes to change.”
I usually agree with Benen’s analyses, but on this one, he misses the obvious. A substantial percentage of Americans–mostly Republicans–have a blind, irrational hatred of Barack Obama–and unlike the well-documented detestation of George W. Bush, that hatred is not a product of anything the President has or hasn’t done. Those who see an equivalency are quite simply wrong–Bush had sky-high favorability ratings the first couple of years of his first term and didn’t really hit bottom until after he was re-elected. In other words, as we got to know him, many of us came to loathe him. But it wasn’t immediate, and it wasn’t rooted in who he was. It was a reaction to what he did.
The animosity to Obama was immediate–even before he assumed office. And it is hard to believe that most of the animus–the accusations of “otherness,” the reluctance to believe he wrote his own books and excelled at Harvard and the like–aren’t a product of his skin color.
If Barack Obama suddenly walked on water, cured lepers with a touch, and had a halo, these people would accuse him of being an extraterrestrial invader.