This was the question asked to me by my son a few weeks ago. And as much as I wanted to throw a “power to the people” fist in the air and say “hells yeah”, I couldn’t. Even though it’s not far from what I believe as truth. I did attempt to explain to my son the nature of politics and this week we discussed the government shutdown and Ted Cruz.  I don’t think my son believed me when I said the reason the GOP couldn’t get their shit together had nothing to do with the president being black. But some people believe that to be true.

Never has there been an upsurgence of Tea Party activity until Barack Obama occupied the White House. Hell, I can’t remember hearing about the Tea Party during any Bush or Clinton term. I’m sure they existed, but quietly of course.

In a recent post, Joan Walsh, the editor at large for Salon, waxed quite poetically about the 50 years of race-baiting and how it’s the real story behind the government shutdown:

Over and over, that’s how things got worse: Republicans who know better, who probably aren’t “racist” in the old-fashioned sense of believing in black inferiority and opposing the equality and integration of the races, nonetheless pander to those who are, for electoral gain. And when the election of our first black president riled up the racists and launched the Tea Party – supposed deficit hawks who tolerated skyrocketing government spending under George W. Bush — too many Republicans went along.

Today, the entire government has been taken hostage by leaders elected by this crazed minority, who see in the face of Barack Obama everything they’ve been taught to fear for 50 years. Start with miscegenation: He’s not just black, he’s the product of a black father and a white mother. (That helps explain an unconscious motive for birtherism: They can’t get their minds off the circumstances of his conception and birth.) With his Ivy League degrees, they are sure he must be the elitist beneficiary of affirmative action. Steeped in Chicago politics, he’s the representative of corrupt urban machines controlled by Democrats – machines that ironically originated with the Irish and once kept African-Americans down, but which are now synonymous with corrupt black power. In Michele Bachmann’s words, Obama is a product of Chicago’s scary “gangster government,” or did she say “gangsta”?

Leading Republicans who know better have demeaned the president with a long list of racially coded slurs. Obama is “the food stamp president,” Newt Gingrich told us. He wants to help “black people” (or was it “blah people”?) “by giving them somebody else’s money,” Rick Santorum said.  Even his so-called GOP “friend” Sen. Tom Coburn insists Obama is spreading “dependency” on government because “it worked so well for him as an African-American male.”

Well needless to say, the right-wing came after her.

Walsh’s assertions weren’t too off base, and in a follow up column, she wrote how GOP’ers get angry when you accuse them of race-baiting.

I also apologize for not being able to reply to the hundreds of critics who came at me on Twitter. I only have time for a few. Well, maybe one. Crazy Nick Searcy, an “actor” who specializes in Twitter brawls, went kind of crazier than usual. Like a lot of right-wing racist nut jobs, he says he has an adopted black son. Honestly: I hear that a lot. I’m going to trust Searcy on that one, but really: If every right-wing racist nut job who claimed to have an adopted black child, or a black in-law – his son’s wife, or sister’s husband, whatever – then every single black person in America would have a right-wing racist nut job for a parent or an in-law. I can’t speak for black people, but I don’t think that’s actually true.


Finally, I was clear in the story that not all Republicans are racist, not even most. The problem is that too many are sadly addicted to the politics of racial resentment that’s powered the party since the ’60s. They can’t quit it. They don’t have the spine to tell the truth to the racist fringe. They’re too busy cashing their checks, and deferring to them at town hall meetings lest one of the wingnuts primaries them. House Speaker John Boehner has let roughly 30 wingnut Tea Partyers from overwhelmingly white districts shut down the government. He’s complicit in their racially driven obstructionism, even if he isn’t racist himself. He ought to shut them down. But maybe he’s afraid of being compared to a Snoop Dogg, or Snoop Lion, or something.

Maybe next time my son asks about race playing a role in the GOP’s treatment of any policy related to the president, I’ll just tell him, “No, I’m sure it doesn’t. I’m sure at least one GOP’er has a black friend”.

Clutchettes, what do you think? Do you think the GOP would treat the president differently if he was white?

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