Solid Reasoning from a Well-Known Genius

[Content Note: Racism.]

Professional grumpy conservative George Will uses his latest column to express his mystification that Mitt Romney is losing. President Obama, he observes, is a terrible president presiding over a terrible economy:
Romney and his advisers must be bewildered by this fact: In October 2011 they would have been serenely confident of victory if they had been told that 12 months later the following would be true.

That President Obama would be waist deep in muddy and contradictory descriptions and explanations of the terrorist (he now concedes) attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya. That data just released for August 2012 showed that real disposable income had again declined. That Obama would actually celebrate the fact that, for the first month since he took office, there were more U.S. jobs than when he took office. That the most recent figures show a 13.2 percent decline in durable goods orders. That nearly 25 percent — the highest in three decades — of Americans between ages 25 and 55 are unemployed. That the second-quarter growth rate was adjusted down from an anemic 1.7 percent to the stall speed of 1.3 percent.

...Obama's administration is in shambles, yet he is prospering politically.
Not all of that is totally accurate or fair, but, in broad terms, I won't argue with the fact that President Obama hasn't been as aggressive enough in his economic policy. Of course, I think he hasn't been, and refuses to be, aggressively progressive enough, even leaving Republican obstructionism aside, but potato potahto. Point is, the economy still stinks.

So why is it then, George Will wonders, that USians aren't willing to throw Obama out on his ass and vote in Mitt Romney? The evident answer is because no matter how bad one might think Obama is, anyone who isn't a free-market, no-tax, let-them-eat-bootstraps conservative readily acknowledges that Mitt Romney is even worse.

But George Will has a different theory:
A significant date in the nation's civil rights progress involved an African American baseball player named Robinson, but not Jackie. The date was Oct. 3, 1974, when Frank Robinson, one the greatest players in history, was hired by the Cleveland Indians as the major leagues' first black manager. But an even more important milestone of progress occurred June 19, 1977, when the Indians fired him. That was colorblind equality.

Managers get fired all the time. The fact that the Indians felt free to fire Robinson — who went on to have a distinguished career managing four other teams — showed that another racial barrier had fallen: Henceforth, African Americans, too, could enjoy the God-given right to be scapegoats for impatient team owners or incompetent team executives.

Perhaps a pleasant paradox defines this political season: That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC's excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up. Instead, the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president. If so, the 2012 election speaks well of the nation's heart, if not its head.
I don't even know where to begin with that. I mean, in the year of our lord Jesus Jones two thousand and twelve, this guy still thinks "colorblind equality" is a laudable objective. (And still thinks wordplay like "darkly suggested" is clever.) So the context of this theory must include the decrepit brainpan of fetid ideas whence it emanated.

But this shit got published in the Washington Post. So its context is also one of credibility and presumed wisdom. Yikes.

Yikes—because what George Will is saying here is ugly and wrong. During the last election, liberals only voted for Obama because he is black and we wanted to make history, and now we are only voting for Obama because he is black so we're holding him to a lower standard.

Which would be a shitty assertion even if it were not easily seen to be demonstrably wrong. We are "especially reluctant to give up on" President Obama? Excuse me? As compared to what—the previous two-term president who, after his first term, was already known to be a wanton warmonger who cooked a case for war, had no exit strategies for either of the wars he started, demonized dissenters as traitors to their nation, supported torture, undermined the international rule of law, thumbed his nose at domestic law, expanded the powers of the executive branch in contravention of the people's will, oversaw a congressional majority rife with corruption and unchecked spending, eschewed any and all accountability, demonized marginalized peoples, and was a comprehensive failure in just about every aspect of his presidency, yet squeaked out a victory to get a second term?

Really, George Will? Compared to George W. Bush, the president no one in the party you support, including your current nominee, will name for fear of being tainted with the lingering odor of his catastrophic presidency, was someone USians were less reluctant to abandon after one term than Barack H. Obama, who inherited Bush's garbage economy and nightmare disaster foreign policy decisions, and whose biggest failure is failing to be sufficiently progressive to unhesitatingly consign his predecessor's every policy to the dustbin of American history?

Get a grip.

If the reason that President Obama is leading has anything to do with the color of his skin, it is this: Being a black man in the United States of America is to be part of a marginalized community, and to be part of a marginalized community generally necessitates and creates a level of empathy that being an undilutedly privileged person does not.

Lots of people, even people who support him, see in Mitt Romney something that tends to be described as "robotic" or "cold" or even "sociopathic." What they are seeing is a lack of empathy.

And in a nation where so many people are struggling, so many are hurting and desperate and disillusioned, feeling like their president gives a shit is not a small thing.

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