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October 08, 2012 5:32 PM Being Hated On

By Ed Kilgore

In a Daily Beast column suggesting that all of Obama’s recent Big Television Appearances (the convention speech, the 60 Minutes interview, and the debate) show a pattern, Mike Tomasky nestles this bit of speculation that I’m not sure I’ve quite heard anyone make, which is surprising given how obvious it is once you think about it:

I doubt Obama had ever been hated by anybody in his life. Now, 40 or so million Americans hate him. Must be stunning to him, still.

Think about that for a minute. Even with the protection of the White House bubble, Obama must be aware that he is widely and regularly compared to Hitler, Stalin, the Antichrist, the biblical villain Haman, and Judas. He’s been frequently, and by no means obscurely, accused of treason, infamous lies about his own background, and of evil intentions ranging from mass infanticide and euthanasia, to the abolition of free speech and religion, to the enslavement of the entire country. There are whole swaths of this country (including large chunks of my home state) where to identify oneself as an Obama supporter invites incredulity, ridicule, and spitting rage.

Personally, I have a hard time dealing with people just flat-out hating on me. I can’t imagine what it would be like, particularly for someone with Obama’s fundamentally conciliatory personality, to know many millions of people didn’t just disagree with me, weren’t just disappointed in me, but considered me actively evil and looked forward to celebrating with great joy my humiliation and defeat, and probably my death and damnation for all eternity.

Has that realization gotten to Barack Obama? I don’t think so, but it’s got to be a bit wearing on the heart and soul.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Peter C on October 08, 2012 5:56 PM:

    Wait a second! He's a black guy who was born in 1961. Is anyone seriously suggesting that he's NEVER been unjustly hated??? We aren't a post-racial society yet, and we CERTAINLY haven't been a post-racial society for the past 52 years!

  • johannn on October 08, 2012 6:00 PM:

    Humbug. He must be smart enough to know that they don't hate him. The same people thought Jesus spoke through W. What they hate is the same thing that makes them cling to their guns and their religion - it's demagoguery.

  • gregor on October 08, 2012 6:01 PM:

    My theory, not novel, but mostly on the basis of personal experience although I am not an African American, is that he has been conditioned, on the path to the highest office, to be non-confrontational and non-aggressive to the point of being passive. Without such behavior, he would have been deemed to be unworthy of entry into the clubs into which he has gained entrance.

  • c u n d gulag on October 08, 2012 6:07 PM:

    A great man/woman thrives, even lives, off of his enemies animus.

    I think Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, LBJ, and even Nixon, loved to hate their enemies.

    I don't know about President Obama.
    He's still trying to be nice to them.
    Maybe he'll show a different side, after he wins.

    Having said that, it's got to be tough to have stupid and ignorant people make all sorts of idiotic accusations about you.

    Even Bill Clinton, who face what Hillary was mocked for calling "A Vast Right Wing Conspiracy," didn't get accused of the moronic nonsense poor President Obama has had to face.
    The really pathetic thing is, if he had an "R" next to his name, he'd be reveered as a a moderate black man, with a nice family.
    But he doesn't have an "R" next to his name - so, he's the KenyanMuslimFascistSocialistHeathenCommunistAtheistMuslim usurper!

  • Anonymous on October 08, 2012 6:08 PM:

    "...where to identify oneself as an Obama supporter invites incredulity, ridicule, and spitting rage."

    You aren't clear here, Ed.

    Are you talking about hateful rightwing, Tea Party types?

    Or are you talking about hateful leftist emoprog types who sneer about us Obama supporters being "Obamabots," who call us, and him, "losers," "corporatists," "Republican lite" and worse because we are ideologically impure and because we'd rather win elections and effect change that way than b*tch ineffectively.

    On a good day, when they put their minds to it, emoprog types can spew just as much hatred and venom and bile as any dimestore Republican.

  • R on October 08, 2012 6:09 PM:

    The Secret Service isn't saying, and I don't want to know, but given the uptick in hate group activity since his election (http://www.splcenter.org/what-we-do/hate-and-extremism), there must be a corresponding rise in death threats against the President and his family. That must be awful.

  • castanea on October 08, 2012 6:12 PM:

    Anonymous @ 6:08 was me.

  • bcinaz on October 08, 2012 6:17 PM:

    Would this be the same 40 million who really hated Clinton's guts? Or some other 40 million? Or a mix of the folks who loved Clinton and hate Obama? This same 40 million probably hate Nancy Pelosi, as well. I think these people hate whoever and whatever they are told to hate by Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck.

  • Tom on October 08, 2012 6:20 PM:

    I think the hatred and death threats directed against his family must be a factor as well. The level of unhinged vitriol is truly amazing, but knowing that your wife and daughters are included in the hatefest must be really hard to deal with. Chelsea Clinton received hateful attention - cough - Limbaugh - cough, but not as bad as the hate directed at the Obama family.

  • Anonymous on October 08, 2012 6:21 PM:

    @Peter C: As an Gen X African-American female who grew up in CA (not the South), I didn't experience the full-on spit-on-'em-beat-on-'em-lynch-'em-if-they-get-"uppity" hate and I bet Pres. Obama didn't go through that either. I've been dissed, called names, ignored, etc. by up to 20-30 people at one time. That's a whole different ball-game than hundreds of thousands or millions of people actively spewing that I'm a failure/lazy/Hitler reincarnated on a daily basis for 3+ years.

  • Kathryn on October 08, 2012 6:38 PM:

    I think there is some validity to this view. While Pres. Obama certainly understands how this "hatred" has been cultivated by his enemies on the right, it can't be easy to know how many Americans have been convinced to despise him as if he were the devil himself. When a prominent spokesman for the opposition goes on cable TV. and won't retract calling him lazy and not too bright, surely that takes a toll. He is a human being. Just observing the distortions and hatred as a supporter and as a fellow human being has been painful. I personally remain sickened by the folks I know (all lily white) that are susceptible to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and others and frankly have lost respect for several over these past four years, which I suspect is permanent. Without a doubt, racism is a major contributor.

  • Daddy Love on October 08, 2012 6:42 PM:

    Just ask Bill Clinton.

  • Abijah L. on October 08, 2012 6:45 PM:

    Well, they did accuse WJC of running drugs and committing murder.... They are genuinely worried about "the country going socialist" even if they aren't clear about what that really means. They are told that liberals hate the country, hate god, hate them, want them killed, want them impoverished, want them rounded up and sent to concentration camps. They are told these things over and over. It's not so surprising that they hate WJC, BHO, NP, and us little guys.

    I had a patient who broke my heart. He was in tears in my office. He needed a surgery that would require a couple of days in the hospital, but he was the single father of two young children. His pastor had him convinced that his family hated him because he was a Christian and so he felt he couldn't leave his children with their grandparents for a few days. I'm as big an atheist as any one, but I don't hate Christians. I feel sorry for them and vaguely embarrassed for people when I hear them talking about their beliefs, but I certainly don't hate them, nor do any of the atheists that I know. It's a control mechanism. Fundamentalist Christians are told that non-fundies hate them, the Tea Party set is told that "elitist" liberals hate them. It's hardly surprising that they hate us back.

  • MK on October 08, 2012 6:45 PM:

    "A Singular Woman," the biography of Obama's mother, recounts a story told by someone who had lunch with them in Indonesia. The woman describes walking with Ann after lunch, watching Barack run down the street, as Indonesian kids pelted him with rocks. "He'll have to learn to live with it," was Ann's response to the woman's concern. The woman described Obama as running through the storm of rocks, grinning as if he were successfully playing dodge ball.
    I don't think this is new to Obama at all.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 08, 2012 6:57 PM:

    After his performance last Wednesday, I can say I felt hate toward Barack Obama. I'm sick of Democrats cowering when confronted with lying bullies and refusing to fight them. And Obama sickened me when he didn't confront Romney. I'm still nauseous.

  • W.R. German on October 08, 2012 7:04 PM:

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 08, 2012 7:14 PM:

    I don't need your or anybody's else's advice. In fact, if you didn't and don't feel the same way as I have/do, YOU need to take some advice: WAKE THE FUCK UP!

    I'll do everything in my power to get Obama elected, but I'm sick as fucking hell of watching pussy acts bend over so lying aggressive dickweeds can ramrod it wherever they want. And anybody paying attention the last four years have watched Obama bend over too damned many times.

    Don't get me wrong. I actually like the guy. But he's going to have to do something he doesn't like to do (nor do I): he's going to stare down raw vicious aggression. Because if he doesn't, he loses. And that'll be the end of the 20th century.

    We should have been looking at Republicans being out of power for two generations. Because of Mr. Bi-partisan not understanding he was going to be reamed by Republicans we're looking at losing just about everything good in the last 80 years.

  • burro on October 08, 2012 7:33 PM:

    From the article, "Obama's Way", in the 10/2012 issue of Vanity Fair. Not quite addressing being hated on, but he's aware he's not loved in all quarters.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/10/michael-lewis-profile-barack-obama

    On the leather sofa beside me were the five newspapers that are laid out for him every time he travels. In every one of those someone is saying something nasty about you, I said to him. You turn on the television and you could find people being even nastier. If Im president, Im thinking, Ill just walk around pissed off all the time, looking for someone to punch.

    He shook his head. He doesnt watch cable news, which he thinks is genuinely toxic. One of his aides told me that once, thinking the president otherwise occupied, hed made the mistake of switching the Air Force One television from ESPN, which Obama prefers, to a cable news show. The president walked into the room and watched a talking head explain knowingly to his audience why he, Obama, had taken some action. Oh, so thats why I did it, said Obama, and walked out. Now he said, One of the things you realize fairly quickly in this job is that there is a character people see out there called Barack Obama. Thats not you. Whether it is good or bad, it is not you. I learned that on the campaign. Then he added, You have to filter stuff, but you cant filter it so much you live in this fantasyland.

  • Hue and Cry on October 08, 2012 7:40 PM:

    Part of the not mad me thinks the president was inundated with what hateful Fox News and Drudge were doing with old Reverend Wright footage & that video of him blasting Republicans for Katrina as it affected African Americans in New Orleans, and that his vice president just spoke of the middle class being underwater the past four years. Plus he wore the day's critical demands as the president, the trip there---then he encounters the spoiled despot Romney-- too rich to work, known to be a liar, not tired at all-- even fired up having been for weeks fed information by his minions, coached endlessly and deviously to debate by Portman--who should have been pissed not being VP--all these servants working on Romney & his Stepford wife, his hair, his fakery, his grown sons with their weird shining eyes. And it worked for the lying Romney. It did not work for the president, who has remained sweetly conciliatory.
    It sickens me too that Romney is ahead.

  • Eli on October 08, 2012 8:13 PM:

    I've never seen a person be hated by so many--since he was elected. Think of Joe "You Lie" Wilson and all the other haters. It's incredibly difficult to listen to "pundits" right now, so full of terribly dangerous ridiculousness. If they would instead turn the focus back to Governor Mendacity and begin to insist loudly, as flailingly as they've turned on the president, that integrity and fair play really do matter.

  • T 2 on October 08, 2012 8:28 PM:

    I think Barack Obama is a real smart guy. I think I'm smart too. I look at the crazy shit coming from the GOP, theTeaParty, Conservatives in general, FOX News and Rush and I just shake my head in disbelief that a large part of the country consider their word as gospel.
    If I was Obama, I'd be shaking my head, wondering how the Nation got to the point where a pure liar could be poised to be president. I'm not sure he has the answer, but I sure don't.

  • Lolly on October 08, 2012 8:30 PM:

    Or are you talking about hateful leftist emoprog types who sneer about us Obama supporters being "Obamabots," who call us, and him, "losers," "corporatists," "Republican lite" and worse because we are ideologically impure and because we'd rather win elections and effect change that way than b*tch ineffectively.

    Oh, so you've met my brother? ;-)

    The "hide" button on my FB page gets a good workout these days. I have to figure those types--not the ones who are disappointed in Obama, as many of us are, but the ones who are working from the left to discredit him--have "issues" of their own that go beyond politics or government, and are playing them out on this stage.

  • Linda on October 08, 2012 8:54 PM:

    Bush was equally hated and villified, possibly moreso than Obama. Comes with the territory. Who cares? Why does it matter.

  • anonymous on October 08, 2012 9:06 PM:

    Linda--it matters.
    It matters because it is about President Obama's race.
    How can you be so uncaring?
    Bush was put into offie by the Supreme Court and his puppeteers stole the 2nd four years for him too.
    You didn't think Bush stumbled around on the stage like some kind of illiterate cowboy jock for 8 years??

  • Mitch on October 08, 2012 9:11 PM:

    @Abijah L.

    Well said, and I know that feeling from both sides. I was raised in a Fundie household and was told for the first twenty years of my life that all non-Christians (and most self-proclaimed Christians) were servants of the devil who hated me, wanted to take advantage of me, were responsible for all the world's ills and were simply waiting for the chance to outlaw Christianity and start executing Christians.

    Now, I am an atheist, with many atheist friends. And we all seems to have more love in our hearts for our fellow humans than nearly and Christian I have ever met. There are exceptions on both sides, of course; but the majority of the Christians that I know SAY that they love everyone, but they certainly BEHAVE as if they hate anyone who disagrees with them about anything whatsoever.

    @DisgustedWithItAll

    Hang in there, my friend! I know this feeling, too. I like President Obama a great deal. He seems very much the kind of person I would enjoy spending a few hours chatting with about pretty much anything. I like him in a way that I have never liked any big league politician before: I feel that he could be a friend.

    But I, too, have had issues with his Presidency. And anytime I mention them, other lefties call me silly names and often say something to the effect of, "Well good luck growing the Green Party."

    Worse, they say this no matter how often I state that I like Obama, support Obama, am going to vote for Obama and will attempt to convince every person around me to do the same. But my support does not mean blind, unthinking agreement.

    Neither do the issues that I have had with him prevent me from voting for him. Indeed, I will gladly confront anyone who thinks that "protest votes" for the Green Party or whomever is a good idea this year.

    Anyone who disliked the abuses of power and human rights of the Bush Administration, or disagrees with Austerity Economics and the Trickle Down Hypothesis, or would like all Americans to have health care and a social safety net for times of vulnerability - anyone who feels like this about these things more - has no ethical alternative but to vote for Obama. Voting for anyone else (even if your conscience weeps at the thought of drones killing innocents) MUST realize that is Romney wins, things will only be worse. In every single way.

    But that does not mean that we progressives should give up on the dream of having a party which actually fights for Progressivism. A party which will stand up for the advances and policies that built the 20th century, instead of allowing the country to continue it's rightward spiral to neo-feudalism or whatever you want to call the end result of destructive "conservative" policies. When it feels like the Democratic Party is nothing more than GOP-lite, then we Progressives have a duty to call it out.

    Disagree if you want to. It's your right. Mine, too.

  • NealB on October 08, 2012 9:39 PM:

    He's half-black. I'm gay. For both of us, for women too, in general, I think, at best, it's hard to quantify how to weight the hate. At worst, it's just hard. Still, boil it down, that kind of hate isn't natural. Studies back it up, but you just know it. It just not natural to hate. We learn to hate from experience. We learn to hate actual, persistent threats. Blacks, gays, women, other disenfranchised minorities aren't actual threats to the majority: defacto. So, no matter how much majority haters spout their hatred, it's always been mostly bluster, when they say they hate us. They don't hate us. They think they own us. Hatred has nothing to do with it.

    The reverse is true of course. We minorities kind of do hate them, because, through-out the Christian era, there has been racism, sexism, and homophobia. There has been outright, violent oppression of minorities. We've got reason to hate them; the racists and sexists have actually, violently destroyed our lives for thousands of years.

    But they don't really hate us. They just feel they're entitled to destroy our lives. That's a big part of what modernity, Democracy addresses. The idea, at long last, that the majority is not entitled to violence against minorities.

  • Simeon on October 08, 2012 9:39 PM:

    Anyone who believes that Obama is shocked because he is suddenly hated by large swaths of America, must be white.

  • beejeez on October 08, 2012 9:41 PM:

    I don't know if the president gets depressed about the hideous, insensible racial hatred that his election sucked out of the woodwork. But I sure do.

  • Nick on October 08, 2012 9:54 PM:

    Maybe that's why he tanked in Denver. Who knows?

    Anyway, boo-hoo, Barack. Tens of millions love and admire you. So suck it up.

  • Nick on October 08, 2012 10:01 PM:

    And I'm with you, Disgusted. All the way. Obama's nice-guy riff and too-clever-by-90% sleepwalk in Denver could rocket us to Third World status in six months.

    I'm sure glad the GOP was demographically dead. Somebody tell them.

  • Vera on October 08, 2012 10:29 PM:

    It is hard to take. No more Mister Nice Guy I hope and pray. Just last month the prez was up by 8 points.
    I thought Repugs were done too.
    We were coasting. Aloha, and all that.

  • John B. on October 08, 2012 11:19 PM:

    "Disgustedwithitall" does not exaggerate when he says we should have been entering the 21st century and instead we're threatened with going back to the 16th century.

    Someone in the White House has to teach Obama some down-and-dirty presidential history: Truman's "do-nothing Congress," ... Roosevelt's "I welcome [Wall Street bankers'] hatred" ... LBJ's tactics to steamroller former Senate colleagues to get the 1965 Civil Rights Act passed by a bunch of habitual racists... even the vile Andrew Jackson's hard-fought victory to kill off the Second National Bank (mistake thought it was, he did it over congressional opposition just as furious)... and Lincoln's ... everything.

    Here's hoping Obama learns fast.. like in two weeks. If there is one thing he needs to focus on it's this: today's Republicans hate EVERY president who isn't a Republican. They are driven by lunatic ideations because they depend on a base of voters and financiers that has become every bit as psychotic as the birthers, racists, Wall Street thieves, and outright war lovers who are at the core of the party.

  • g on October 09, 2012 10:24 AM:

    Bush was equally hated and villified, possibly moreso than Obama. Comes with the territory

    There is a big difference between having anonymous hateful emails circulated and ugly blog commenters, and having actual opposition party elected officials say hateful things. No one in the Democratic leadership said hateful things about George W. Bush, or things casting doubt on his patriotism or the legitimacy of his personal right to the presidency.

    Ironic, isn't it? The guy whose right to the presidency actually had some true doubt was given more respect by the opposition party than the guy who came into office by an electoral landslide.

    My point is - all presidents get underground anonymous hateful noise. This president is the only one since Lincoln who has been disrespected this much by the elected leadership of the opposing party. And, worse, then they turn around and blame HIM for their hatred.

    It's disgusting, it's damaging to our political institution, and - yes - it's racism.

  • T2 on October 09, 2012 10:30 AM:

    I didn't hate Bush because he is a white guy. I hated him for sending 4700 Americans to die in a fake war he started just for his ego.
    I'm sure Republicans who now disavow Bush would love to say Bush's crimes equal Obama's....but that is not fact.