26. Character Assassination’s Dangers

Any psychologist can tell you that what those Republican diehards in Congress ranting about killing “Obamacare” really want is not the destruction of a complex health program but to get rid of the President. Openly declaring that one desires killing the President would constitute a serious criminal offense. Merely saying that one wants to get rid of Obamacare hardly will get noticed.  Psychologically, the transference is painfully obvious, but the reality must also affect the President in many troublesome ways.

I find the whole program of veiled attacks on the President of the United States as well as the long running and quite open character assassination of Obama a national disgrace.  Character assassination can also degenerate into open criminality – like plotting a real assassination. The Secret Service of the United States whose job it is to protect the President does not disclose the figures nor the details but they reportedly intercept way more than 30 death threats to Obama every day.

Scanning the internet for such threats to Obama, I found close to a dozen videos on Google about a “predicted” assassination of this “anti-Christ” on the 22nd of November! This projected attack by a white assassin, who himself would immediately be shot, was portrayed in gruesome detail. So were the consequences of such a horrid scenario.

Assassin originally was a Muslim word for intoxication from hashish. In the middle ages the word became used by a select order of murderers in Islam operating in great secrecy. Today there also is little “Freedom of Information” when it comes to the possible physical attacks on the President. It is to be feared that some radical opponents of Obama might contend that because of his “socialization” of health care and his opposition to the Constitution when it comes to gun-control and other issues, the President might be selected for a “targeted killing.”1

Editorial writers would say that shrugging off such dangers is part of Obama’s job, after all some of the greatest leaders, like Lincoln and Kennedy, were shot. But nevertheless this background and heritage could well gnaw every evening that Obama says good night to Michelle and his daughters. Nor do the nation’s media devote space or time wondering how all these expressions of hatred and possible plotting might be affecting the President.

In some ways the United States is a country still recovering from the Civil War. Many southerners find it hard to acknowledge that their ancestors lost the war over freedom for blacks. Obama’s color, education, intelligence and ability all are an embarrassment to a sizable minority of Americans who simply cannot accept that a descendant of slaves could become President.

This has manifested itself in polls which show that about a fifth of registered voters still think Obama is a Muslim. This rises to a third when just conservative Republicans are polled. Among evangelical Americans a sizable number consider Obama to be not only a foreigner but even an embodiment the anti-Christ!

“Obamacare” is a racial flashpoint for many evangelical and Tea Party voters,” writes the political scientist Stan Greenberg.2 His health care program stands as a flag being waved at such bigots symbolizing everything about him they cannot accept. “The word they’re most likely to use to describe him is ‘liar’. But their hostility goes beyond his policies and pronouncements to a deeply rooted suspicion of his authenticity,” writes the columnist Gary Young. I find this most curious because it is hard to imagine that after reading Obama’s best-selling autobiographical books one could question his authenticity.

But then most of his critics are not known for reading serious books.

Nor do I think Obama was ever covering up some hidden agenda or program for America. His opponents proclaim that he is promoting ever greater dependence on government through healthcare-like programs which they assume disproportionately favor minorities. The President’s purportedly socialist inclinations are attacked on a daily basis on attention-seeking talk shows. Obama’s predecessors in office, were also attacked by left and right for their “being” (as well as their programs): George W. was portrayed by the left as simplistic, inept, and lacking in authenticity. But there was no concerted attempt at broader character assassination of the kind being funded by the Koch brothers who are under-writing much of the right-wing lobbying fringe in Washington.

However, the electorate is beginning to wonder whether the continuing desperate attacks by the Tea Party on “Obamacare” are motivated by racism. I suspect that if Obama had introduced a “school care” program, Republicans would have tagged his name on to that and would have attacked it ferociously.  After associating health care with his name the Tea Party members could not resist trying to savage it. Trying to kill “Obamacare” in the Congress without having the vote to do so has proven to be sheer folly. But trying to pull the rug from under the Presidency has damaged the image of the United States of America and that of the Tea Party Republicans. Steadily draining away the energy from efforts to move the country forward over the past three years, in principle, should condemn to oblivion those radical obstructionists who express such thinly veiled hatred of the President of the United States of America.

1Today there is a distinct legal difference between assassination and “targeted killing” such as is performed by the Obama administration’s steady use of drone strikes. Contentious disputes arise as to the legal basis for its application, who qualifies for such an “hit list,” and under what circumstances can such killing be employed globally. In 2010, with Obama’s approval, Anwar al-Awlaki became the first U.S. citizen to be publicly approved for targeted killing by the CIA. Awlaki was killed in a drone strike in September 2011.

2Inside the GOP, quoted by Gary Younge, The Guardian, October 23, 2013

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2 thoughts on “26. Character Assassination’s Dangers

  1. Well, said! I despair at the debacle involving the new health care system. Everything has become too politicised, although that was bound to happen. What amuses me is that ‘socialism’ has become such a dangerous concept – akin to House Un-American Committee activities in the past. Wasn’t the New Deal a saving grace for the economy at a time (similarly) when times were tough?

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