On Sunday, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh appeared with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday for the first time in almost five years. Several subjects were covered in the 15 minute segment but when Limbaugh was asked about President Obama’s handling of the Ferguson situation he said this, “There’s no acknowledgement of any of the progress. If you listen to these people, the president, the mayor of New York, you’d think it was two hundred years ago. You’d think we hadn’t even started working on these problems, and that’s not true.”
Rush obviously is not a fan of the President but this idea that Obama has failed to ease race relations like many expected over the past six years is not new. In fact, a recent Bloomberg poll shows that a majority of Americans think race relations have worsened under the President’s watch. This belief is diametrically opposed to the vision most people had of Obama when he burst onto the political scene in 2008 as the candidate who would heal the nation and lower the rise of the oceans. The unrest that resulted from the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner can’t be blamed on the President but there are definitely several reasons as to why most people think Obama bears some responsibility for the deterioration of race relations in this country.
Over the past two years, President Obama and his party have embarked on a very aggressive PR campaign that capitalizes on the racial divide that exists in this country. The list of examples is long but here are the most troubling:
President Obama weighed in and took a side on several controversial race related cases before all the facts had been released and before the jury had rendered a decision. Obama commented on the divisive George Zimmerman case by saying that Trayvon could have been his son and essentially framing the narrative before the case could go to trial. Not only that, in what seemed like a coordinated move, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius likened opposition to Obamacare with lynching and segregation of schools within days of the controversial Zimmerman ruling. The tactic of associating any opposition to the President’s policy with racism has been very common from this administration. Obama also famously stated that the cops “acted stupidly” in a case involving a black man who was hassled by a white cop while trying to enter his own house in 2009. These comments were also made before all the facts were on the table and the President ended up being incorrect about his observation.
The Michael Brown case was no different. President Obama and Attorney General Holder both weighed in before the Grand Jury evidence was made public and Holder even went so far as to say that he identified with Ferguson’s mistrust of cops. President Obama is entitled to his own opinion, but getting involved in racially charged cases before the facts are out and consistently taking one side doesn’t speak well to his ability to transcend unrest and be the President of all the people. The other problem is that Obama’s “opinions” on these cases were pushed as the main platform of his party during the midterm elections.
The Democrats, who President Obama ultimately speaks for, took racial division to new heights during the past election cycle. When they weren’t trying to divide the country based on gender, they were pushing an agenda based on the idea that voting Republican was voting to take a step backward in race relations. When Limbaugh said that the President acts like we are living two hundred years ago, perhaps he was referring to a pro Kay Hagan flyer that circulated in North Carolina during the liberal Senator’s re-election bid which said that voting for her opponent was a vote for lynching. Sadly, Hagan not only opted against condemning the flyer, she doubled down and released an ad blaming her opponent Thom Tillis for the death of Trayvon Martin.
Democrat Mary Landrieu pushed the same message during her re-election campaign in Louisiana. She went on the record and said that Obama’s unpopularity in her state was due to racism. Michael Brown was not off limits during the midterms either. A Democratic flyer in Georgia circulated the message that voting Republican would result in another Ferguson type shooting.
The common denominator here is that all the Democrat candidates who used these tactics, lost. The overwhelming Republican victory was a referendum in many ways but the voters clearly did not identify with the rhetoric and racial division that was peddled by the President, his team, and his party. Rush Limbaugh, the midterm voters, and this recent Bloomberg poll are all saying the same thing and it is becoming more and more apparent that the President has a lot of work to do in his final two years if he wants to go down in history as a leader who mended race relations more than he harmed them.
– Andrew Mark Miller