Progressive writer and editorial cartoonist Ted Rall has been labeled — and libeled — as a “racist” over at Obamabot Central — er, at the Daily Kos.
It’s sad and pathetic.
I don’t know Rall personally, but I’ve been following his work for more than a decade now, and I can say that he’s no racist.* I have most of his books (I’ve read at least a few of them from cover to cover) and have read many if not most of his columns and editorial cartoons over the past decade-plus, and if I’d ever had a whiff of a hint that he harbors racist beliefs/views, I would have stopped reading his work a long time ago.
The “evidence” of Rall’s “racism”? He draws Barack Obama — poorly! (Um, he draws everyone poorly — I like Rall’s writing more than I like his cartoons, the concepts of which I like better than their artistic execution.) And Rall colors Obama a shade of tan or brown!
“President” George W. Bush got no better treatment from Rall, who often if not usually portrayed Bush unshaven and in a military dictator’s outfit and with snot (the result of cocaine use, I presume) coming out of his nose:
Rall often drew Bush in what one might deem to be a simian fashion, as Rall has been accused of depicting Obama. (Since we’re all primates, since we all resemble our simian cousins to some degree, charges of the intentional simian-ization of another really need to be grounded. [Depicting one with a tail or with a banana or swinging from a tree, for instance, would be such grounds…])
Anyway, the way that Rall has depicted both George W. Bush and Barack Obama has not been exactly flattering. But Rall is an editorial cartoonist. It’s not his job to flatter, perhaps especially not his job to flatter the most powerful politician in the world, the president of the United States, whoever it is at the time.
I could argue, easily, that President Barack Obama has been even worse than “President” Bush was. I mean, at least with Bush, we knew what we were getting; we knew what to expect. Bush started off by stealing the presidential election of 2000. How, exactly, was it going to get better from there?
President Hopey-Changey, however, started off by winning a presidential election, fairly and squarely — through his ubiquitous, relentless promises of “hope” and “change.”
We progressives weren’t sure what to expect. Might this new political rock star actually deliver?
We took the chance on Obama, and alas, he has not delivered — he hasn’t even substantially tried to deliver — on his campaign promises, and who knows how many young Americans Obama fired up over the political process in 2008 but turned off from politics after his incredibly unremarkable, lackluster-at-best presidency? (The Occupy movement certainly wasn’t about what Obama was doing, but was about what he’d promised to do if he were sent to the White House but once actually was in the White House refused to do.)
How do you gain back that trust? Can you? Ever?
That might be, in the end, Obama’s largest sin: causing the political disengagement of an entire generation of Americans to whom he very apparently fucking lied, repeatedly and over a long time, in order to gain the highest elected office of the land.
Is anyone, perhaps especially if he or she is white — like I am — who actually holds an elected official accountable to his or her own fucking campaign promises — who actually does that before-and-after comparison — a “racist” if he or she points out that the elected official has not fulfilled his or her own campaign promises if that elected official is not white? Is that it?
What is the difference between hating everything that emanates from Obama largely or even primarily because he’s part African and loving everything that emanates from Obama (or, at the very least, excusing everything that emanates from Obama, including not only his inexcusable, utter inaction on such progressive priorities as fighting poverty, reducing the bloated-beyond-belief military-corporate complex and its colossal budget, and stopping environmental degradation, but also even illegal and unconstitutional secret governmental spying upon the masses and slaughter by killer drones) largely or even primarily because he’s part African?
Aren’t both stances steeped in racism? Don’t both stances make Obama’s racial composition the thing about him that matters the most?
Wouldn’t it be racist to expect less of Obama than we would expect of a white president who had campaigned as a progressive? (On that note, as I have rhetorically asked before, wouldn’t an actually progressive white president, perversely ironically, have been much better for black Americans, as a whole, than the do-nothing, center-right Obama has been?)
Ted Rall has been critical of Obama because of Obama’s wrongdoings and Obama’s refusal to be the progressive president that he relentlessly promised the nation he would be — and that he could have been, the Obamabots’ myriad of poor excuses and pathetic apologies notwithstanding.
Rall has not been critical of Obama because of Obama’s race.
Those so-called Democrats or liberals who pillory actual progressives like Ted Rall don’t do themselves or their “cause” any favors.
Obama lost votes from 2008 to 2012, not only in terms of the percentage of the popular vote, but in terms of actual number of votes.** His approval ratings right now hover only in the upper 30s to low 40s.
Had Obama been the president he had promised he would be, he could have, I think, done even better in 2012 than he did in 2008, and his approval ratings would be much better than they are.
Where does the Democratic Party stand right now?
Well, let’s just say that I can see the faux centrist Chris Christie, if he can make it out of the Repugnican Tea Party presidential primary season alive, fairly easily beating Billary Clinton’s uncharismatic, centrist, pro-corporate ass in November 2016, given how much Obama — and (ironically) Bill Clinton before him — have damaged the Democratic Party by alienating the party’s traditionally progressive base (let me repeat: the party’s base) by dragging the party further and further to the right.
The Democratic Party hacks are fools if (well, they are fools, no ifs, ands or buts) they believe that they can put the wooden, boring Billary in the White House without the support of the party’s traditionally progressive base — and we, the base, aren’t remotely fired up over the center-right Billary Clinton.
The Democratic Party establishment could use all of the support that it can get right now, and calling everyone who dares to criticize President Hopey-Changey (especially while white) a “racist” not only is slimily defamatory, but alienates the support of white progressives that the Democratic Party cannot afford to lose if it wants to remain viable.
*My definition of “racism” — and I think it’s important that we define our terms in our discussions of race and racism — is something like this: the ingrained belief that any one race (usually one’s own) is superior to another race, and the practice of judging others (and perhaps also behaving toward others) based upon this belief.
Some (perhaps especially academics) have posited that it’s impossible for a member of a historically racially discriminated-against minority group to be racist toward a member of a historically oppressive, politically stronger racial group, but I wholeheartedly disagree.
To me, the heart and soul of the definition of “racism” isn’t the race of the individual we are talking about (duh), but is about the individual’s beliefs regarding others of another race (and sometimes the individual’s resultant behaviors toward others of another race).
We cannot maintain both that race shouldn’t matter, but that only principles should matter, and that only white people can be racist because the definition of a racist depends upon the individual’s race.
In a nutshell, if you see an individual’s race before you see another individual, another human being, then you are, in my book, probably racist to at least some degree.
**Obama won more than 3.5 million fewer votes in 2012 than he did in 2008, and while he won 52.9 percent of the popular vote in 2008, he was down to 51.1 percent in 2012.
As I have noted here before, while I voted for Obama in 2008 (when I walked into my polling place, I had it down to Obama or Ralph Nader, and blackened in the oval next to Obama’s name at rather the last second), I could not, in good conscience, vote for Obama again in 2012; in 2012 I voted for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.
The question for Billary should she run for the White House in 2016, I think, is whether or not she can stem the hemorrhaging of the progressive support of the Democratic Party. I can’t see how she can, given that she and Obama are two center-right peas in a pod (indeed, they’re both pod people…).
Update: Lest you believe that Barack Obama’s lackluster-at-best presidency hasn’t harmed his party, you should read this Reuters news article that I just read. An excerpt:
Young Americans are unhappy with virtually every major thing President Barack Obama has done since he was re-elected, but they would still vote for him today, according to the results of a Harvard University survey released [today].
The national poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics of more than 2,000 people aged 18 through 29 is intended to provide insight into the political views of the youngest U.S. voters. This increasingly influential demographic known as the “millennial generation” has been a traditional base of Obama’s support.
More than 50 percent of respondents in the survey, taken between October 30 and November 11, said they disapproved of how the Democratic president handled key issues in his second term, including Syria, Iran, the economy, healthcare and the federal budget deficit.
Most cited the economy as their top concern.
Still, disapproval ratings were higher for both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. And a plurality of respondents, 46 percent, said they would still vote for Obama for president if they could recast their 2012 ballots, compared with 35 percent who said they would vote for the then-Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.
Some 55 percent of the survey respondents who reported casting ballots in the 2012 presidential election said they had voted for Obama, compared with 33 percent for Romney.
Institute of Politics Director Trey Grayson said the poll revealed cracks forming in Obama’s base.
“This isn’t a problem for Obama because he’s not coming up for election again,” Grayson said in a conference call with reporters. “But it is a potential problem for any Democratic candidate seeking to mobilize young Americans.” …
I recommend the entire article, which is here.
Note that apparently the youthful poll respondents were asked only whether they would vote for Obama or for Mittens Romney if they could vote again. They apparently were not asked whether they would vote for Obama or for an actually progressive candidate (instead of a center-right sellout) if they had that choice.
It’s telling that almost 10 percent of the respondents indicated that just a year after his re-election, they already regret having voted for Obama last year.
Can the Democrats really afford to lose almost 10 percent of the youthful vote? Or a similarly large chunk of the white progressive vote by calling Obama’s detractors who happen to be white “racist”?