Wednesday, September 16, 2009

“You Lie” does not translate to “I am a racist”

Former President Jimmy Carter found himself back in the fray after commenting on the recent incivility on the House floor by Rep. Joe Wilson. In a town hall meeting in Atlanta Carter responded to a question from the audience on the outburst by Rep. Wilson with, "I think it's based on racism. There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president." There is a reason why Carter was a one-term president and part of that might just be his assumptions. Rep. Wilson's outburst of "You Lie!" during President Obama's speech last week to a joint session of Congress was not motivated by racism. To think that is just as asinine as the vote to rebuke Rep. Wilson after his apology to the man he called a liar was accepted.

President Obama was discussing what his health care reform plan was not about and attempted to put rumors to rest. Rep. Wilson outburst came after President Obama said that his plan would not cover illegal immigrants. The H.R. 3200 bill does not contain language that forbids illegal immigrants from gaining access to a public option; one would be naïve to think that they would not be covered. After taking office many polls had President Obama's approval rating in 70's and now its plummeted to the low 50's with some even dipping below 50 percent.

Pundits from Matthews to Maddow assert that the free fall in poll numbers for the president is because Americans are racists. Really? So sometime between January and September a shift in polls has to be because of the color of the president's skin and not because of the policies he wants to implement. Americans are waking up and understanding that we have drunk from the government trough far too long. Government has seen the addiction as a means to gain further control of our lives and people are fed up. Million of American's are out of work and struggling to keep their homes, cars, and way of life as they watch their government growing larger and larger.

Instead of acknowledging the growing size of government is the angst being portrayed at the Tea Parties and in the polls, supporters of President Obama assert it is the underlining current of racism. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) said on Tuesday that if the House did not rebuke Rep. Wilson for his outburst that people will start wearing "white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside." Seriously Mr. Johnson, as an elected official and the voice of Georgians, do you really feel the outburst and not rebuking the action would led to a stampede of southern justice? I'd like to believe that America, in general, has moved beyond racist tendencies when commenting on public policy agendas. Perhaps I am naïve in my thought process.

The media is doing its part as well to move forward the discussion that Rep. Wilson's outburst was racially motivated. Maureen Dowd wrote in her New York Times column on Sunday that "I've been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer…had much to do with race. But Wilson's shocking disrespect for the office of the president – no Democrat ever shouted 'liar' at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq – convinced me: Some people just can't believe a black man is president and will never accept it." Again, I do not see where Rep. Wilson outburst in response to President Obama explanation that illegal immigrants will not be covered under his health care reform plan.

There will always be fringe groups that feel all actions taken or not taken are based solely on race. Fortunately for America the vast majority of the public does not have deep seeded racist thoughts – no matter what ones race is – and has accepted the election of the first president of mixed race. I can only imagine how the progressives will frame the debate during the next presidential election if Obama is not re-elected. Let's agree – politicians, media outlets, and private citizens – that if someone disagrees with policies suggested by President Obama that it is not race based; rather the disagreement arises from the policy shift itself.