Protests against Obama: race or policy?
Former President Jimmy Carter said out loud what Democrats had been whispering for a while, that the protests against the country’s first black president are tinged with racism.
“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American,” Carter said in an interview on NBC.
While others had raised the issue, it wasn’t until Carter’s blunt words that it reached a crescendo as loud as the protests.
Carter mentioned his southern roots in saying “that racism inclination still exists” in the country and many white people believe African Americans are not qualified to be president.
Critics of Obama have protested at town hall meetings around the country, rallied in Washington, and even yelled out on the floor of the House of Representatives (Congressman Joe Wilson’s “you lie”).
Steele accused Democrats of trying to shift attention away from the president’s unpopular healthcare plan.
“Characterizing Americans’ disapproval of President Obama’s policies as being based on race is an outrage and a troubling sign about the lengths Democrats will go to disparage all who disagree with them,” he said.
Obama did not respond to a shouted question by a reporter about Carter’s racism comments.
UPDATE: White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says that Obama doesn’t believe the criticism is racist. “The president does not believe that it’s based on the color of his skin.”
Is there an objective barometer for whether a protest is based on racism or policy?
What do you think? Are the protests about race or policy or both?
Photo Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer (Carter at 2008 Democratic National Convention), Reuters/Molly Riley (Steele after being elected RNC chairman in January)