If you want a glimpse into the minds of people who feel themselves oh-so-smart but seem unable and unwilling to learn a thing, read this article wherein a group composed of “two of America’s preeminent scholars on American history” plus three journalists and authors responded to various questions about the Obama legacy.
The only person in the group who doesn’t spout the complete party line is Andrew Sullivan, which is understandable considering he’s an unusual amalgam of liberal and conservative. A couple of times during the conversation you can almost feel sorry for him (at least, I did), particularly when he attempts to say that race and racism don’t account for everything negative that’s happened to Obama:
SULLIVAN: But this is all a slow disintegration of an American identity, which is not racial.
JAFFE: Has there ever been an American identity that was not racial?
SULLIVAN: Yes. There can be understood to be something that transcends race, as a citizen with no race.
PAINTER: Maybe if you’re really rich.
SULLIVAN: [Obama]s] other failure is not doing enough to confront the identity politics of the left. Because the left’s obsession with race and gender and all the other Marxist notions helped create the white identity politics that is now going to run this country.
[Laughter and shouting]
The laughter and shouting is apparently because the others are devoted to looking at nearly everything in terms of those identity politics.
It’s hard to summarize the proceedings, but here’s how the entire discussion began, which should give you a sense of the flavor of it:
Q:…How much responsibility do you think that [Obama] himself bears for creating the conditions that allowed Trump to get elected? In retrospect, are there things he could or should have done to protect and institutionalize his agenda more?
NELL PAINTER: I don’t think it has anything to do with him personally, except that he’s a black man. The election of Trump was a gut-level response to what many Americans interpreted as an insult eight years ago, and have been seething against ever since. The only way you can see Trump as somehow Obama’s fault is Obama’s very being. It’s ontological.
Apparently, according to Painter (retired Princeton professor and former president of the Organization of American Historians), anyone failing to acknowledging Obama’s perfection must be a racist and can only be a racist who objects to Obama’s very being.
I guess that would include the voters in counties that once voted for Obama and but in 2016 voted for Trump:
This shift was easily spotted at the county level. For instance, in small, working-class Juneau County, Wisconsin, home to 26,500 people, Trump bested Clinton by 26 points. President Obama won the county by 7 points four years ago. In Macomb County, Michigan — a blue-collar Detroit suburb home to 855,000 people — Trump won by more than 11 points. Obama won it by 4 points in 2012. And in Lackawanna County in northeast Pennsylvania, typically a critical county for Democrats in the battleground state, Clinton won, but barely, beating Trump by less than 4 points. Obama won the county four years ago by over 27 points.
The above quote isn’t from the New Republic, though; it’s from an interesting article at NBC News, and it deals with facts that the majority of TNR’s forum members don’t seem to feel the need to explain. The New Republic’s forum had a ton of excuses for Obama and very little blame, and much of the blame was on the order of “he didn’t go far enough to the left” and “he tried too hard to compromise with the Republicans.”
We’ve heard all of that before, but it seems especially odd to hear it now, post-election 2016. Who are these people trying to reassure by this sort of talk? Themselves? Each other? Their readers?
The title of the article is “Beyond Hope.” It is meant to refer to Obama’s promises of “hope and change,” now that he’s about to leave office. But it is unintentionally ironic in its description of the inability of most of the panelists to look at the truth and to fairly assess the situation in which the Democratic Party finds itself today.
[NOTE: And why pick on Andrew Sullivan’s “insane” quotes about Obama? Sullivan was by far the sanest person on the entire panel.]
[ADDENDUM: Speaking of “beyond hope,” Michelle Obama seems to have lost her hope and thinks America has, too:
“We feel the difference now,” Obama said in an excerpt of her final White House interview, conducted by Oprah Winfrey. “Now we’re feels like what not having hope feels like. … What do you do if you don’t have hope, Oprah?”
The full interview is scheduled to air Monday on CBS-TV…
“Barack didn’t just talk about hope because he thought it was a nice slogan to get votes,” the first lady said in the CBS interview. “He and I and so many believe: What else do you have if you don’t have hope?”
The first lady during her time in the White House made top priorities of empowering young women and promoting healthy eating habits.
She argued in the interview that children are the ones who most need hope.
And to try to explain how her husband gave Americans hope, she said he was like the soothing parent who didn’t overreact when a child bumps his or her head on a table.
“Barack has been that for the nation,” the first lady said.
I wonder whether the First Lady considers those millions of Trump voters as not comprising part of “the nation.” Because it seems to me that her statement is true only for about half the nation. For the other half, Obama was an infuriating mixture of tone-deaf non-reaction to their concerns both here and abroad, and extreme activist for positions to which they were opposed.]