The Word on Obama: Arrogant? Presumptuous? How about UPPITY?

Our New President

Our New President

I’ve been very busy with other writing….

Haven’t been blogging too much recently….

I’ve been following the Campaign, too. Very dispiriting –the level of the discussion.

And I have been dutifully doing my Monitoring Duties, listening to the Braying of Rush and the Cackling of Hannity, looking at the language they are using, and noticing the words in common. The approach they are taking, the themes that are emerging…..
The ….Talking Points from on high.

The Word on Obama has been….ARROGANCE. The “who does he think he is?” question is raised every day, in a variety of ways. A new word crept in just today, or was it yesterday. The word is…. PRESUMPTUOUS!

Satire and irony –which fare best with a lighter touch– do not seem to come easy to our bloviating friends on the right. There have been a number of extrapolations on the Arrogant-Presumptuous-Audacity front. One cartoon had Obama “On the cross” –a little over the top, one might think; there are many references to him regarding himself, or at least acting “Like The Messiah”….

Arrogant. Presumptuous. Who does he think he is? It took me a little while to “hear” the word behind those words. The word that is not being used, but is left out there on the ether: “He who hath an ear to hear, let him hear….”

That word is….UPPITY.

Are we getting beyond race? Are we living in a post-racial America? What do you think?

McCain has now accused Obama of playing….THE RACE CARD…off the bottom of the deck. McCain was very disappointed; his campaign director pointed it out first.

Now, if there IS a deliberate, intentional, racist subtext to the basic anti-Obama message of the right-wing, the smart thing to do would be to inoculate themselves by claiming that it was Obama who brought it up first….

Now, here is what Obama actually said that brought the “playing the race-card” accusation from McCain.
In a speech in Springfield, Missouri, he criticized the McCain Campaign Approach thus:

“So nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me,” Mr. Obama said in Springfield, Mo., echoing earlier remarks. “You know, he’s not patriotic enough. He’s got a funny name. You know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He’s risky. That’s essentially the argument they’re making.”

Note: Obama makes four separate points:
1. Not patriotic enough.
2. He’s got a funny name.
3. Doesn’t look like …other presidents.
4. He’s risky.

It’s the third one of course that COULD BE interpreted as referring to race –and if it was, it was amild allusion indeed, hardly in the Willie Horton or the McCain Black Baby mould. But to McCain “It was a clear reference…”
–a clear playing of “the race card”, and off the bottom of the deck.

It struck me as, shall we say, “interesting” that McCain picked out not the first, not the second, but the third “reason” and then exaggerated it. To me it was clearer that it was McCain who wanted to introduce “the race card”, than Obama.

And that is where I first got the sense, began to feel the fear of a Republican Campaign based on Barack Uppityness.

Earlier on this year, most people that I talked to –on either side of the aisle– had an (unfocussed but definite) fear that the 2008 Campaign might plumb new depths of toxicity. Now we are seeing its most nasty manifestation to date.

It is “accepted election wisdom” that many people in the privacy of the poll booth will revert to racist “logic” to choose their candidate, even when they have declared beforehand for an African-American candidate. This is known as the Bradley Effect, because of Mayor Tom Bradley of San Francisco’s election, I believe in the seventies.

By introducing the “race-card” and the concept of “uppity-ness” it may be that the right-wing has plumped for the inducing of a Bradley Effect to get McCain elected.

McCain, of all people –who had the right wing throw the most outrageous racist slur against him in the 2000 Republican primary against George Bush…that he had a black baby!

Outrageous, indeed. But not as outrageous as letting George Bush kiss him on the forehead at that subsequent public event.


A. Point it out. Label it as what it is –the politics of the past.
B. Object to it.
C. Shame McCain for participating in it, and for not condemning it. (Earlier McCain had objected when someone on his campaign staff had invoked the “Hussein” middle name, so, clearly, he had to be handled in this case.)
D. Don’t surrender to the negativity: laugh at the perpetrators, and their “poverty of positive ideation”.
E. See the ploy for what it is –an expression of desperation (actually, most of those rightwing bloviators really dislike McCain, and have excoriated him over the last months. Remember Ann Coulter: she said she would vote for Hillary Clinton if McCain got the Republican nomination!)

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2 Responses to “The Word on Obama: Arrogant? Presumptuous? How about UPPITY?”

  1. Kevin McEneaney

    Obama won the Democratic nomination because he presented a new fantasy: change and unity. What the Republicans fully realize is that elections are not about reality but about the entertainment of fantasy. If Rep adds go whacky fantasy, Obama digs his own defeat by responding with reality because people hate being reminded of realities. The oil drilling is case in point. Also, the celeb thing. If the Rep party can paint Obama as a nerdy professor, they think they can easily win the election if they juice it with the fear factor. The fear that Obama’s has no0t had enough experience might make the undecided middle just stay home on election day. Obama needs to reply by selling his own fantasies and not playing the game of responding to false charges.

  2. Malachi

    A very interesting analysis, Kevin.
    And I am afraid you may be right.
    We will see soon enough.