More meandering thoughts.
Jamelle, the ferocity of the right-wing opposition to Obama mystifies and bewilders me, so as far as I’m concerned your explanation’s as good as any. Because when I try to imagine what I would do if I had the policy preferences of, say, a loyal Glenn Beck viewer, I still can’t figure out where the anger would come from. I can see how I’d want to put a lot of time and energy into opposing the Democrats, but I’d also be resigned to the idea that when the Democrats win both houses and the presidency, they’re going to try to implement some of the policies that their constituencies favor. I don’t see how increasing government involvement in health care is sneaky or surprising.
Someone might ask: but wasn’t the ferocity of the left’s opposition to Bush equally incomprehensible? Frankly, no. If the left’s view of Bush is correct, we’ve got a war criminal taking over two nations and killing lots of people in the process. If the right’s view of Obama is correct, we’ve got a politician implementing awful, inefficient, costly policies by accepted procedures. To me, it makes more sense for real anger to follow from the former than from the latter. Maybe this is why the Birther thing is so resilient: there’s got to be some way to show that Obama’s abusing the democratic process, because apparently he’s just working with his party’s majorities to get laws past.
When I was a kid, I got my hair cut by a barber who had covered nearly an entire wall with anti-Clinton paraphernalia. What stands out in my memory is how much of it focused on Hillary rather than Bill (“I DON’T SUPPORT THE PRESIDENT — OR HER HUSBAND!”). Admittedly, Hillary Clinton took a leading role in that administration’s health care proposals, and I was too young to pay much attention, but I wonder if gender and race are used to undermine legitimacy so that normal political processes can be cast as abnormal.
A totally different explanation would be that politics is very often a matter of what the Straussians, following Plato, call thumos or spiritedness, and that what we’re seeing is a thumotic response to a perceived threat to property — in this case, a threat to medical care. I’m open to the idea that I just don’t get thumos the way the Republican base does.
Oh, as for the idea of the President telling kids to work hard in school: not something I would have pressed for, but nothing I’m against…