John Avlon's latest for the Daily Beast is masterful. It features an interactive list of the most outrageous examples of frothing anti-Obamaism, and it's a perfect round-up of the epistemic closure that the right wing media has created for half of America.
We will look back on birtherism and some of the other strange conspiracy theories that have clustered around him as, at the very least, vestigial remnants of racism. The sheer tonnage of hate and lies directed his way in the White House is stunning and it will seem somewhere between stupid, silly, and sad in the future.
But for now, we are witnessing the harvest of that hate. Talk to otherwise decent, well-intentioned citizens on the campaign trail and these themes keep creeping up in conversation: “Obama is a socialist” and “He wants to make us more like Europe” are among the most benign; “Muslim” and “Marxist” are not uncommon. This past Wednesday, I spoke with three tipsy middle-aged women who helped put on an Ann Romney rally in wealthy Winter Park, Florida, who did not hesitate to repeatedly describe the president of the United States as “evil.” Members of Congress even repeat lines straight out the Obama Haters Book Club, talking about Obama’s “Gangster Government,” “Thugocracy,” Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of his administration, his Communist influences and tyrannical ambitions. One Romney campaign ad even spoke of the president’s “War on Religion.”
This doesn’t even qualify as dog-whistle politics—it directly repeats the core drumbeat of the Obama Haters Book Club: that President Obama is un-American and anti-American.
As a result of this constant drumbeat, many Americans have a hard-time recognizing President Obama’s record for what it objectively is.
This absurd epistemic closure likely accounts for why so many Americans are shocked at the President's strong polling numbers. How could he possibly have a shot at being re-elected, people must think, if he is so bad for America?
Because the truth is, he isn't so awful, and most people know it.
As a Romney supporting, moderate Republican, here's my basic view of the President. He is a liberal man who has governed (whether by design or fate) in a largely pragmatic, centrist style. Obamacare has origins on the right, as does the stimulus, and his execution of foreign policy is not unlike his predecessor. (Argue about Israel as you will.) If you want to see a real liberal who would badly harm America, go chat with Jill Stein. Her policies are genuinely bad for our country.
Obama's? Merely unhelpful.
I don't think he is the proper choice on Nov. 6, but good lord people, the world will not end if he wins. Really, it won't. America has survived far worse than a left-leaning centrist technocrat in the Oval Office.