Attorney General Eric Holder finally said the obvious and that's that racism drives and has always driven the relentless bashing of President Obama. In the past, Holder has strongly hinted that "racial animus," as he put it in his frank charge, has been the mainstay behind the GOP's non-stop, take no prisoners, assault on any and every initiative, program, and proposed piece of legislation that Obama has put forth. Holder's hint of this came in April at a convention of Al Sharpton's National Action Network when he bluntly demanded, "What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?"
The usual suspect right-wing bloggers, websites, and talk show gabbers went ballistic and piled on Holder as a race baiter and divider then. It's no different this time with his frontal attack on the serial race baiting of Obama. Even the most cursory look at the endless litany of the race baiting hits on Obama tells the sordid tale. He's been ripped as a Muslim, a closet Marxist, and unpatriotic. He's of alien birth and this slur has been complete with endless lawsuits, court challenges, and countless numbers of state legislators trying to arm twist passage of legislation demanding proof of Obama's birth. This has even extended over into a race tinged spin-off demand for proof of Obama's college classroom work and degree.
During the 2012 GOP presidential primary campaign GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney spewed a stream of race-tinged references to food stamps, welfare, work ethics, and an entitlement society. Then there were the racially-loaded newsletters from Ron Paul that resurfaced. The candidates when challenged ducked, dodged, and denied any racial intent, or in the case of Paul's newsletter, that he even penned them.
But it was there for all who cared to see and hear. In the meantime, other GOP leading lights got in the racial vilification act by tossing out the usual racially loaded code words such as dependency and entitlement in the same breath as Obama. Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn went even further and charged that Obama has stamped his alleged dependency on government because "it worked so well for him as an African-American male." House Budget Chair Paul Ryan clumsily fed that perception when he claimed that "inner city" males are unemployed because they are inarticulate and don't value the culture of work. Ryan was roasted for his ignorant dig and slightly walked the wording but not the sentiment of it back. That didn't much matter since he simply echoed the beliefs of legions in the GOP about black males, and that certainly does not exclude Obama. Then there's the tea party. The quick surge of the party in the aftermath of Obama's election with its thinly disguised race baiting digs, taunts, slogan, offensive parodying, posters, and depictions of Obama and Michelle Obama were early warning signs that race would be very much on the presidential table.
When Holder speaks out on race, the GOP attack machine instantly kicks into high gear with a barrage of denials and then another deft turn of the racial table. This means the usual finger point of Holder as a race baiter. That's always accompanied by the pro-forma indignant rhetorical question, "What, to oppose Obama's polices, is to be racist?"
This ploy is used to rock Obama back on his heels and box him into a tight racial corner. It's also a serviceable tactic to try to put a brake on Obama's efforts to fire up African Americans and Hispanics to dash to the polls in November. The GOP also has become hypersensitive to the charge that it is racially narrow and insular and a borderline bigoted party. It made a loud but mostly empty effort to try to put a different PR face on the party when it churned out dozens of pages of a blueprint plugging minority outreach. It has even made a few noisy self-righteous and self-serving condemnations of rocker Ted Nugent's racialized words against and about Obama and has tried to put some rhetorical distance between itself and some of the more crackpot statements by GOP state legislators on blacks and Hispanics. But that's more cover than anything, to give credence to its pounding of Obama for allegedly shuffling the race card to divide Americans and retain and win more seats for the Democrats in November.
Holder's honest, on-the-mark charge that race drives the assault on Obama will be ruthlessly tossed up in his and Obama's face in the coming days as the supposed proof that Obama won't hesitate to stoop low and use race to rally the troops. The GOP will in turn as always feign hurt and play the innocent babe in the woods routine to the hilt.
It won't change one hard fact: that when it comes to race baiting, the GOP will always have the market cornered on that. Holder just pointed out the obvious.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of The Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.