In quick succession in one week's time, a protestor waves a sign "bye bye black sheep" and a small chorus chimes in and puts it to the popular song ditty of "Bye, Bye, Blackbird" in front of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix where President Obama spoke about housing finance reform. Hundreds of attendees at a Missouri state fair roared with laughter and applause at a rodeo clown's mocking Obama. In Orlando, a knot of protestors wave racially insulting signs including "Kenyan Go Home" at Obama's motorcade. And a GOP congressman hints that there's sentiment among House Republicans for an Obama impeachment drive over questions about his American citizenship.
These despicable and outrageous displays of racism should be condemned. But at least they're honest in that the upfront bigots shredded the carefully honed script that has been the template for the racially sneaky and insidious attacks on Obama. The script reads like this: Whenever an elected official, Tea Party figure, or even leader, or gobs of protestors wave their racially loaded signs, posters, and shout racially derogatory barbs at Obama, Tea Party and GOP leaders chalk it up to variously a fringe few, or crank, and then wail that it's blatantly unfair to, as well as politically conniving, to tar the Tea Party, let alone, the GOP as racist for the acts of a kooky few. They'd have a legitimate grip except for one, actually two, small points.
In 2012 a Brown University social scientist used polling experiments and an independent survey to identify a series of issues that have been bitter and contentious between Obama and the GOP and that are seemingly race neutral such as tax policy, health care reform, Supreme Court appointments, and political party identification. He found that those with a racial antipathy toward blacks were more prone to oppose anything that Obama supported.
There's method to the madness there. The relentless racial assault on Obama has been the one unyielding constant from the moment that Obama declared his presidential candidacy in 2007. This was not simply an unorganized, spontaneous expression of bigotry. It was subtly stoked and orchestrated by the GOP with the clear political aim of disrupting, destabilizing, and rendering politically impotent Obama's program, initiatives and proposed legislation.
The final presidential vote in 2008 gave plenty of warning of the lethalness of the GOP's core conservative white constituency when aroused. Overall, Obama garnered slightly more than 40 percent of the white male vote. Among Southern and Heartland America white male voters, Obama made almost no impact. The only thing that even made Obama's showing respectable in those states was the record turnout and percentage of black votes that he got. They were all Democratic votes.
A Harvard post-election assessment of the 2008 presidential vote found that race did factor into the presidential election and that it cost Obama an added three to five percent of the national popular vote. Put bluntly, if Obama had been white the election would have been a route. During the GOP presidential primary campaign GOP presidential candidates made sure of that with the stream of race-tinged references Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney made 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.
His 2012 reelection victory gave even more warning that little had changed. In fact, it got worse, he got a smaller percentage of the overall white vote than he did in 2008, and that included a small but significant defection of younger white voters who backed him in 2008.
The Tea Party took much heat and continues to take some for race-baiting the recent broadside from Harlem congressman Charles Rangel, in which he branded them as "white crackers." The attacks stung and hit home, and they retooled, repackaged refined their attacks and slogans to the deficit, the budget, spending cuts, and alleged Obama and Holder scandals. This was carefully designed to yank the albatross of race off the Tea Party and the GOP's back. But, that hardly meant that race was off the GOP table as a major political weapon in the GOP's political attack arsenal. They could have it both ways. Their shock troops in the streets as they showed in front of the high school where Obama spoke could hurl their racist taunts at Obama, and the GOP and Tea Party leaders cold either stay mute, or engage in plausible deniability -- namely it's a few lone nuts, not us, that are racist.
The serenading of Obama to the tune of "Bye, Bye, Blackbird", and other clownish racist antics, simply reconfirmed the horrid fact that Obama's public policy stances and battles will continue to be dogged by subtle and overt racial rips from the congenital Obama race baiters. And despite the fevered denials that race has anything to do with their Obama animus, there's political method to the madness.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC Political Contributor and weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM Radio.