A fine example of “MacGuffinization” by the left, as Sally Kohn reduces a high-stakes struggle between Obama and the GOP over separation of powers and the future of detente with Iran to white guys from the other party not respecting a black man enough.
I don’t mean to minimize the charge, though. In the liberal hierarchy of offenses, racism ranks much higher than treason.
Taken as a whole, this list suggests a troubling pattern of profound disrespect for the President. But more than this, it seems to reflect an anti-Obama fever that has gripped the Republican Party — one that the letter to Iran suggests shows no signs of breaking, and is a sure sign of sickness in the Republican Party.
Is the lack of respect being shown toward President Obama about race, as some have suggested? Yes and no.
Certainly, for a segment of the country, it really is about being uncomfortable with a black president. Indeed, even former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, noted what he described as a “dark vein” of intolerance in the party and parts of the country in general. But beyond that hopefully shrinking share of the population that is explicitly racist, there is a far wider issue of implicit racial bias — an unconscious, yet nonetheless real tendency, to subject President Obama to extra scrutiny because of the color of his skin.
“It’s one thing for Congress to demand it ratify such a deal,” writes Kohn, but “it’s something else entirely to undermine the authority of the White House by sending a partisan letter to a foreign government (something Democrats didn’t do with Russia),” even though one very famous Democrat revered by his party to this day did exactly that in 1984. And he wasn’t the only one:
In 1979, Senator Robert Byrd traveled to the Soviet Union during the SALT II arms talks to “personally explain the requirements of our Constitution” to Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev. Byrd later wrote: “In Leningrad, I explained that I had come to the Soviet Union neither to praise nor condemn the treaty but to create a better understanding of the treaty in the Senate and to explain to the Soviets the Senate’s constitutional role in treatymaking.”…
In 1990, former President Jimmy Carter secretly wrote to the leaders of the U.N. Security Council nations urging them to oppose a resolution offered by his own country. The existence of the letter was revealed when one of its recipients shared a copy with the White House. Presi-dent George H. W. Bush was “furious” at the “deliberate attempt to undermine” his foreign policy, according to his national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft.
More at the link from Stephen Hayes. Here’s a reality check about “disrespect”: It’s because of Obama’s unique historical stature as the first black president that congressional Republicans don’t fight harder when he craps on their legislative power over health care and immigration. It’s not the only reason — the House and Senate GOP have weak leadership, they know they’ll never get 67 votes in the Senate to remove O, and they’re traumatized even now by how their attempt to oust Bill Clinton in 1998 backfired politically. But even if they had the votes and thought the public would tolerate removal, they wouldn’t impeach him over separation of powers for fear of exactly the sort of media demagoguery Kohn’s practicing here. It feels increasingly hallucinatory to me that the husband of the presumptive Democratic nominee was actually impeached by the GOP and yet we still have to endure whines about how uniquely disrespectful they are to the guy currently in office. Ask Bill Clinton (off the record, when he can give his honest opinion) if he thinks poor Barack’s had it tougher from conservatives than Bill himself did.
I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: Congressional Republicans will play rougher with President Hillary than they do with O because the racism smear will no longer be available to Democrats. Lefties naturally will accuse them of hating women — Kohn herself will write her first column to that effect within two weeks of Hillary being sworn in — but with racial politics off the table, they’ll be more willing to engage in bareknuckle partisan brawling. In fact, if we’re going to play the “special standards for black candidates” game, here’s one for Kohn: Would she be more troubled by executive power grabs on the employer mandate and legalization for illegals and unilateral deployment of military force if it were a white Democrat rather than a black one ordering them? The unmissable context for Cotton’s letter, which Kohn naturally misses, is Obama choosing to ignore the Senate’s treaty power by refusing to submit the Iran deal for a vote. He’s denying Cotton and the GOP their constitutional outlet to express their dissent, not just because he’s afraid of the Senate’s veto but because he routinely demonstrates contempt (a.k.a. disrespect) for congressional prerogatives. If Hillary Clinton had issued a series of progressively ambitious executive actions designed to sideline Congress and rewrite the laws to her liking, even some Democrats, I’m betting, would see it as troubling and even vaguely sinister. (C’mon, it’s Hillary.) When Bambi does it, he’s just doing what he can for the common good while villainous Republicans try to obstruct him. Why is that? Why not float a self-serving half-baked racial narrative to explain the difference?
Republicans issued that open letter to Iran, i.e. put out a press release, because they don’t want to be silenced while Obama’s preparing what they think is a giveaway on nuclear weapons to a major terrorist state that’s been targeting America for 35 years. Or, Republicans did it because they’re racist. Choose whichever explanation makes you feel more secure in your political beliefs.