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Culture, Government, Life

Disrespect and the Presidency

Recently a friend of mine posted a link to a blog on Facebook that was a Canadian’s view on how President Obama is being treated written by William Thomas. How he shouldn’t be disrespected like this and how it’s never happened before. This isn’t a new post. It’s actually from last year (2013). And the original of the piece is from 2010. I’m not sure why he posted a link to it in 2014. Especially considering the article is entirely vacuous.

So, I’m going to do my best in this post to be as apolitical as I can. My goal is not to say that the current president is worthy of the criticisms given to him (he is, but that’s not the point). My main goal in this post is to say, “Come on. You can’t really believe that President Obama is the first president ever in US history to be vilified by the opposing party. The first one to have the other side of the political spectrum actively work against him.” It’s as if people on the left have a memory gap that covers the eight years before Obama took office.

So let’s start at the beginning of the piece. The one my friend posted can be found here. The original (I think) however can be found here. The first line is:

“There was a time not so long ago when Americans, regardless of their political stripes, rallied round their president. “

I don’t know if he’s serious here or not. Were the Dixie Chicks rallying around the president when they said they were ashamed of him in 2003?  Was Keith Olberman rallying around Bush when he called him a pathological liar? Was Nancy Pelosi rallying around Bush when she said he had “no ideas?” Was Kanye West rallying around Bush when he said that “Bush doesn’t care about black people?” I could go on but I don’t think it’s necessarily.

He then wrote this:

Four days before President Obama’s inauguration, before he officially took charge of the American government, Rush Limbaugh boasted publicly that he hoped the president would fail. Of course, when the president fails the country flounders. Wishing harm upon your country in order to further your own narrow political views is selfish, sinister and a tad treasonous as well.”

Well according to a 2006 poll 51% of democrats didn’t want Bush to succeed. Well if he doesn’t succeed then he fails right? Perhaps this guy just didn’t watch the news before 2009.

Subsequently, during his State of the Union address, which is pretty much a pep rally for America, an unknown congressional representative from South Carolina, later identified as Joe Wilson, stopped the show when he called the President of the United States a liar.”

Well, first of all, and I know this is a bit of a technical point, but Wilson didn’t call the president a liar. He said “You lie.” There was no name calling but only saying that what the President was saying was untrue. Secondly, as far as civility goes, during the 2006 State of the Union, Bush mentioned that Congress had halted his attempts to, in his words, “save social security.” Not only did the democrat side of the hall erupt in applause but in a standing ovation. Regardless of what you think of Bush’s plan, that was not exactly a civil response to him. It was a Woo Hoo! We stopped you response. So again, not exactly as civil as Mr. Thomas is holding up.

Then Mr. Thomas says, President Obama’s face appeared on protest signs white-faced and blood-mouthed in a satanic clown image. In other tasteless portrayals, people who disagreed with his position distorted his face to look like Hitler complete with mustache and swastika.”

I know he’s kidding here. First the “white-faced and blood mouthed in a satanic clown image” is a mash up of Obama and the Joker as portrayed in “The Dark Knight” by Heath Leger. No blood mouth, no satan, just the Joker. And of course, this was done to Bush first as this on January 13th of 2009 (before Obama took office):

jan-13-2009

Or this one from July of 2008 that appeared in Vanity Fair:

VF 7-2008

Yep, no one did that to Bush.

Then there is the “complete with mustache and swastika.” Again, you can’t be serious. Just google Bush Hitler and see what you find. When I did an image search I got pages of results. Here are three.

bh1

bh2

bh3

Then Mr. Thomas goes from bad memory to just outright lies.

He said, “More than once, men with guns were videotaped at the health-care rallies where the president spoke. “

This is misleading. The man in question, who only identified himself as Chris, open carried in Phoenix (where it’s legal) outside of a venue where the President was speaking. He was never in the vicinity of the President. He was not hiding the weapon so the Secret Service could easily make sure the President was in no danger from him. Suggesting that Obama was is not accurate.

He then rambles for a bit about people thinking Obama is attractive. I found that part weird as it doesn’t really fit with his “the right are bad people” narrative.

Then, in one of the best parts he breaks into this:

“In President Barack Obama, Americans have a charismatic leader with a good and honest heart. Unlike his predecessor, he’s a very intelligent leader. And unlike that president’s predecessor, he’s a highly moral man.”

So now, in his “don’t talk bad about presidents” post he then calls Bush stupid and immoral. You don’t get to have it both ways. Am I to believe that he never said things like that before Obama? I don’t. He says that Obama is treated with the kind of deep disrespect to which no previous president was subjected,” which I’ve showed just isn’t true.

Most of the rest of the post is emotional appeal. No facts, no points, just Thomas pleading to be nice to the president. But are we supposed to be nice to him? Shouldn’t the “leader of the free world” be under more scrutiny than anyone else? I think Mr. Thomas could also benefit from research into politics in the 18th and 19th centuries. He might be surprised.

Perhaps it’s just human nature. This “don’t make fun of my guy” political ranting. “It was fine when we did it to Bush, he was bad. Don’t hold us to the same standard” type of thinking. Perhaps it will swing the other way when the next Republican is in office. Though I can’t wait to do the “circle the wagons” argument, sarcastically of course, at the people making it now.

Just for a little transparency here though. I did not vote for Obama. I did vote for Bush. I actually don’t think there’s much difference between the two. Why didn’t I vote for Obama? I grew up a bit. I recognize what the path they are putting us on is. If I had to choose between the two who would I choose? That’s actually a tough one. Bush is better only in that he was slower in implementing the same policies. He took baby steps toward socialized health care where Obama jumped. However with Bush in office conservatives were more relaxed, less vigilant. I said as far back as 2004 that Bush was not acting very conservative (I believe I said “spending like a drunken sailor” at least once) and that was bad.

That said, I don’t engage in personal criticisms of either of them. I’ll talk about their policies, what I agree or disagree with, but calling them Hitler or the devil isn’t helpful at all. It ends debate (as it isn’t debate, it’s emotional epithets) and it actually hurts understanding of what Hitler really was. Do I think all political satire of a president is inappropriate? No. I wouldn’t tell someone to not do a Bush/Joker mash up. I just wish that the person making it had more of a point than “Bush is a villain” because that’s weak and just plain bad commentary.

Here's a bonus picture of the Secret Service dodging rocks that were thrown at the president's limo in 1969 (Nixon).  Real Civil.

Here’s a bonus picture of the Secret Service dodging rocks that were thrown at the president’s limo in 1969 (Nixon). Real Civil.

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