Saturday, September 06, 2008

And...We're Back To Normal

Fresh off of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) calling Barack Obama "uppity", we get Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) questioning Obama's love of country:
Regardless of what polls show, Inhofe said, voters will have to ask themselves a question once they get behind the curtain in the voting booth on Election Day.

"Do you really want to have a guy as commander in chief of this country when you can question whether or not he really loves his country?" he asked.

"That's the big question."

Later, Inhofe "clarified":
After he was asked for an explanation on why voters should question Obama's love for his country, Inhofe issued a written statement on Friday to clarify his earlier comments.

"Let me be clear,'' he said.

"I am not questioning Sen. Obama's patriotism, but you have to question why at times he seems so obviously opposed to public displays of patriotism and national pride, like wearing an American flag lapel pin."

Ah. Well then.

Via Hilzoy.

1 comment:

PG said...

I had one of those "awake at 2am" moments Thursday night when I was thinking about the candidates' names and had a sudden conviction that we were not going to be able to say "President Barack Obama." It seemed completely impossible at that moment.

I come back to my sense that the opposition to Obama is not as simple as race; it is about a whole complex set of differences, both real and unreal, between himself and those like Inhofe who find him viscerally problematic. I have realized that because I actually identify with Obama -- the immigrant story, the reliance on education to lift up your family socioeconomically, the huge sacrifice of his parents and grandparents for that education, even the name people have trouble pronouncing -- I too am disconnected from the kind of people who find all of that weird and distant from their own experience.

I kept thinking that night that Piyush Jindal knew what he was doing when he renamed himself Bobby and converted from Hinduism to Catholicism. I don't meant that at age 4 (which is supposedly when he demanded to start being called Bobby) he knew he would become a Republican politician. My little sister had a phase where she was tired of having a name nobody else at school did, and wanted to be named "Jessica." Rather, he figured out that maintaining those kind of differences puts you in an uphill battle that never ends. It's so much easier to "cover."

My dad's background obviously is part of mine, and half of his toast at my wedding reception was about how great this country is, the incredible opportunities he'd had here, and that despite the warnings he'd received about whether he'd be welcome in a small Southern town, the people in the East Texas town where he'd settled had been such good friends and had traveled a long way to attend the wedding. (The previous toasts had included jokes about the fact that I was marrying a Republican; when Dad went into the "USA! USA!" stuff, I said to my husband, "Well, now they know how I can live with a conservative.")

My dad isn't voting for Obama, but it's because Dad always votes based on keeping his taxes low. He doesn't believe that Obama will fail in national security (indeed, Dad's hopes of smacking down Pakistan might have a better shot under Obama than McCain); he doesn't believe Obama is unpatriotic because he doesn't consider the American flag a daily accessory or home/car decorating element (Dad never wears any kind of lapel pin); he doesn't believe Obama is a communist (having lived in an area raided by Naxalites, Dad actually knows from communists).

He simply disagrees with Obama on economic policy, and if I thought Obama was going to lose on that basis, I'd shrug and figure maybe I should give the American Enterprise Institute's theories a closer look. But that certainly doesn't seem to be the ground on which most of the battle is being fought.

It makes me really sad to think that someone like my dad wouldn't be considered suitable for elected office by folks from the party he supports with huge contributions every election cycle. He never has donated to a Democrat, but has given the GOP almost $10,000 in the last 10 years, and not because he has any way to benefit from their goodwill.

Maybe for the GOP bigwigs, this literal xenophobia -- this fear of the stranger -- is merely a strategy and not sincere. But they must believe that it is a useful strategy, one that will get enough voters who are OK with Obama on a policy basis not to vote for him because of what they believe about him personally.