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Racism in the House Chamber?

In 1967, the play “MacBird!” opened in New York. It was (very) loosely based on Macbeth and, like it, told the story of an assassination and a palace coup, only in this case Lady Macbeth and her husband were not mythical Scots, but the first family of the United States. “MacBird!” accused Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson of being responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Naturally, given the times, it was a hit.

After the boorishness on display in the House chamber Wednesday night, it is useful to recall an uglier political era than the present one for some perspective, and it also useful to recall it for similarities. At the moment, nothing Barack Obama is going through compares in the least to the treatment Johnson got from his political enemies -- on the left, not the right -- but the reason is the same. Johnson was considered an illegitimate president. So is Obama.

Johnson’s supposed and keenly felt illegitimacy was a consequence of how he came into office -- as Kennedy’s last-minute vice presidential choice and, upon his death, his successor. That Johnson was widely -- and wrongly -- perceived as a conservative southerner only deepened the animosity toward him. He was seen as both politically and culturally the anti-Kennedy, president by virtue of some sort of coup.

Obama is president in the standard way. But his illegitimacy continues to be questioned by the “birthers,” who insist he is not a native-born American, who demand to see the president’s birth certificate, and then, when they see it, insist it cannot be genuine. Neither evidence nor facts will dissuade them because they are the throes of an irrationality based on bigotry. An American president must be -- ought to be -- white.

Some of the same ugly feeling was present in the House chamber Wednesday night. The lack of respect shown the president of the United States was both appalling and shocking. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) yelled “You lie,” when Obama said that his health care proposal would not cover illegal aliens. Other Republicans held up placards saying “What Plan?” or “What Bill?” as Obama was speaking. The Party of Rudeness had outdone itself.

All presidents get vilified. It’s part of the job. White House aide Van Jones stepped down last week amid controversy over the fact that, among other things, he once signed a petition declaring that the administration of George W. Bush "may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war." Bill Clinton was accused of running drugs through Arkansas’s obscure Mena Airport, among many, many other things.

But when the fringe starts pushing into the center, then attention must be paid. In general, the Republicans in the House treated Obama disrespectfully, and some of them treated him with contempt. When opposition to a piece of legislation turns swiftly into disdain for the man -- when policy becomes personal -- a columnist is permitted to wonder why. He is permitted, furthermore, to wonder if some of Obama’s more hateful critics are not expressing a repressed bigotry -- the feeling that the man up on the dais cannot really be the president of the United States. After all, he does not look like one.

It would be an awful thing if genuine criticism was labeled racist and therefore muffled. But the disrespect shown Obama seems so disproportionate to the issue -- health-care reform -- that I just have to wonder. Wilson later apologized for his outburst, but he cannot take it back. It was, as has been said of another incident, a teachable moment. I hope he and other Republicans learn from it.

By Richard Cohen  | September 10, 2009; 9:46 AM ET
Categories:  Cohen  | Tags:  Richard Cohen  
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Next: The Art of the Insult in the House of Commons

Comments

Cohen, you are a racist for introducing the topic.

On top of being a racist, you are a puppet for the obama administration and the left. Shameful. The post needs UNBIASED journalists.

Posted by: jim000122 | September 10, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Who does a greater disservice to the President--Joe Wilson who lost his temper and shouted an insult or the news media that provides more coverage to the outburst than the President's speech itself?

Your righteous indignation could be better directed.

Posted by: SamG1 | September 10, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Your comments are absolutely ridiculous. Obama does lie and the heckles he received were deserved. Why do you in the media continue to ignore the overwhelming number of contradictory statements this man has made? Why do you ignore his actions that contradict his statements? Why is disagreement always perceived as racism? You have no cards left to play! The truth is the truth. Admit it: the emperor has no clothes!

Posted by: Inquisitive1 | September 10, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

What about the disrespect continuously showed to President Bush during his term? Repeatedly challenged as an "illegitimate" president who stole an election, interrupted by protesters at both inaugurations and multiple State of the Unions and other speeches -- treatment equally contemptuous to what Obama received. That doesn't make it right, of course, but demonstrates that the present opposition is treating Obama with the same disdain as the previous opposition showed his predecessor. This is unfortunate, but it is certainly not racist.

Posted by: ArlingVA | September 10, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

But it is OK for for the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, to call George W. Bush a liar while he was the sitting President? Cohen the sword cuts both ways. Where was your concern for the disrespect shown to that President? Oh, I forgot, he was not your President.

Posted by: melj1 | September 10, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Oh,the race card. What took you so long?

The constitution bids the president
address congress only once per year. If he wishes to do so a second or third time then he ought to expect tough questions - though not heckling.
The opposition party faces no mandate to pay attention to a president of the other party; they don't work for him.
In a non-state of the union address, there ought to be an opportunity for the other party to question the president on the floor, during the address, or immediately after it.

Posted by: Davidd1 | September 10, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

The exhibition last night was embarrassing on multiple levels. It's sad to see that kind of behavior in any setting. There has to be a certain amount of respect for the occasion, the office of President, and more importantly, the person speaking - this wasn't a fraternity meeting, it was a joint session of the elected legislators that represent the people of this country, in which the President of the country was speaking. Who are these idiots? I wonder how they would feel if their children shouted out in a school presentation like that, or in class. The most basic decency was lost. Hand written signs? Was that a joke? Who thinks to him/herself, "hmmm, let me write a little sign and wave it around, that'll send the right message". I can't believe nobody had a mirror to try and blind the president.

It's a sad and cynical day when a speech by the President to the lawmakers about such a crucial subject such as health care resembles a campy 80's comedy. Where's the seriousness? Where's the gravity? Where's the well thoughtout disagreement and countersolution? Heads should roll b/c if this kind of behavior gets a pass, it'll only get worse.

Posted by: anolecrab24 | September 10, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Good lord, how intellectually lazy can you get? I put it to you that you wouldn't hear a peep out of the Birther types should Michael Steele or Bobby Jindal (2x god forbid!) become president. There, thesis destroyed. Can we have another column, please?

It's not simply about race, although that may be a supporting factor in some cases. It DOES have a lot to do with nationalism/American exceptionalism run amok combined with skillful GOP fearmongering, particularly effective in the midst of an economic downturn. Obama is being cast as a snobby socialist Europhile, with the black half as an added bonus for those whose conception of "American Heritage" stops around 1900.

For god's sake, don't focus on the race thing, it's really fairly peripheral to the main issue and Republicans, racist or not, love to use the "he pulled the race card!" tactic to fire up their side even more.

Posted by: rockopete2 | September 10, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Would someone please tell all the OLD Baby-Boomer throwbacks that they are sounding more and more like their parents every day?! By constantly comparing every modern event to some (usually completely) irrelevant happenstance of the 1960's (may they please rest in peace), you only remind us of your own increasing irrelevance. Time for retirement -- if not of your heavily dated and blindly biased beliefs, then your public career. Spare us.

There is nothing racist about a difference of opinion, even a rude one. There is a lot racist when you and your ilk constantly, monotonously keep bringing up race!

And, to not even mention the boos the President received from members of his own party OR the "truther" that had to resign from the White House days ago is, considering the text of your article, grossly unprofessional.

Posted by: chessb2000 | September 10, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

While racism may play some part in the opposition, the main motivation for Republicans is that their heels are on the edge of a precipice and they're fighting for their political survival. They would mount the same vehement opposition if Hillary Clinton had been elected president, though the contributing factor might be sexism.

But they'd also be just as adamant had John Kerry been elected in 2004. The opposition is first and foremost about defending conservative dogma from liberals, though for some the fact that Obama is of mixed race (or that Hillary is a woman *and* a Clinton) may trigger a more visceral response in some Neanderthals in both parties, though likely more in neo-conservative Republicans.

Posted by: Gallenod | September 10, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Look at the states the GOP represents, almost all of the old Confederacy. Remember the "Southern" strategy and its base on racism for political power. Consider today's GOP attacks on affirmative action.

If the Republican party racist, of course it is. Hell, racism is one of their fundamental beliefs.

Posted by: dfdougherty | September 10, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I should say 1945 rather than 1900. Also, try using a spell checker before going live--it's "racism"

Posted by: rockopete2 | September 10, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Objecting to Obama's proposal for health-care reform is racism? Aw, c'mon.

Mr. Cohen, although I don't always agree with your views, I regularly read your column as you are such a cogent writer.

In my view, you have disgraced your credibility with this little essay.

Posted by: AEvans | September 10, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

There are so many legit complaints about GOP behavior as of late (and this is coming from a Republican), and Wilson's outburst was one of the worst examples. But trying to argue that his comment was racist is just as juvenile and indefensible as what Wilson said. You're honestly no better than he is.

Posted by: mindkiller1 | September 10, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Richard Cohen: You lie!

This is beyond silly. Those on the left have now literally become the boy who cried wolf. You cannot say a single thing in criticism of this President without being labelled a racist. But much like that ill-fated boy....NO ONE BELIEVES YOU ANYMORE!!!

And there's is a reason we don't believe you....because it's NOT TRUE.

Joe Wilson's comment was many things. It was uncivil. It was rude. It was disrespectful.

It was NOT racist.

Incidentally, if the Washinton Post has any actual, you know, REPORTERS left on staff, you might also want to look into the fact that his comment also was not inaccurate.

Posted by: etpietro | September 10, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Spot on, Mr. Cohen.

A white president would never have been treated this way in the Chamber by elected Senators and Representatives.

This is not about disagreeing with the health care plan. Respectful and informed debate has been welcomed all along. This is not about ordinary people on one side or the other calling names -- although that is bad enough. This is about a sitting elected official interrupting the President's speech to shout out that he is a liar.

It is unprecedented and disgusting.

Posted by: trace1 | September 10, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Richard:

As you ca nsee above, "They can't handle the truth" about themselves.

Posted by: quavaduff | September 10, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

And no, to all of you on the board whose eyes are too blind to see, the bill does NOT cover illegal immigrants.

See factcheck.org (a non-partisan site) -- and also see John McCain's interview this morning on the Today show where he admitted that the bill does not cover illegals.

But to all of those Obama haters -- please, don't trouble yourself with checking the facts. They're not relevant to your mindless name-calling.

Posted by: trace1 | September 10, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

People called Bush some very ugly names, stupid, a liar, and everything under the sun, but I do not recall a time when a democrat shouted out during one of Bush's speeches that he was a liar, even when the WMDs were nowhere to be found in Iraq. That is the key distinction here, it's not just what was said, it's the setting. This is not Britain or its House of Commons, afterall, the British have nationalized heatlhcare. Even putting race aside, that was absolutely disrespectful to Obama as a man and the Office of the President. The setting is the key distinction to me.

Posted by: nsu1203 | September 10, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Mr Cohen has expressed an inconvenient truth. You conservative bombastics, can't bolviate all summer about how Obama wasn't a legitmate president (despite winning 53% of the popular vote to W Bush's 49%), you can't whip up hyteria about radical connections of Obama (even though Palin belongs to groups with links to white spearatists< and McCain had his own followeringsd whocalled for Obama's violent demise) and you can't demonisze his background (Hawaiian, mixed race) and then get OUTRAGEd when people connect the dots and begin to see the hysterical response as partly racist. If you Republicans are opposed to Obama merely on the merits of his porposals, then you should be the first to decry the birthers and confront the hateful elements of your party who show up at Obama rallies with semi-automatic waepons. You should be able to effectively counter his policiy prescriptions without resorting to ugly and decisive tactics that seek to demean and destroy to Office of the President just because the occupant is one of who you don't aprove.

Racism? If the shoe fits...wear it!

Posted by: chuck2 | September 10, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Cohen unfortunately is typical of the new, confident Democrats. They pick a leader whom they remind us often is black and simply wait until someone goes out of his way to be rude to him. If everytime a Democrat had said something rude to Mr. Bush, someone had cried, "racism!" that person would have been insane. The same rule applies this morning.

Posted by: mhr614 | September 10, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I agree. Sarah Palin was unmercifully attacked in the press because she is a woman, not because she is a political neophyte trying to play in the big leagues and failing.

President Obama is being attacked because he is black, not because he is trying to reinvent the Great Society with entitlements for all and accountabilty for no one.

It's all about racism and sexism.

Posted by: InTheMiddle | September 10, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Calling what happened last night racism is just plain silly -- but it is a form of prejudice -- hatred of others due to identification. And it is hatred, no less.

Race has nothing to do with it. The right has done the same to progressives of all colors. And, to be fair, the left can be accused of similar actions -- the amount of hatred spewed at McCain during the campaign from certain leftists was inappropriate, he did not deserve it -- a certain intense loathing of Bush II was deserved however.

The key here is that prominent mainstream Democrats do not usually engage in the hate speech that mainstream Republicans do, and when they are found doing it they are forced out. Democrats are often criticized by fringe leftists for not being more aggressive -- whereas Republicans seem to gladly follow the most extreme tactics.

Posted by: balto20 | September 10, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

This is ridiculous.

When Bush was attacked for 8 years was it because of racism? How about when blacks did it? It MUST have been racist then, right?

You libs astound me. You simply can't accepted that we don't care about the color of Dear Leader's skin; we care that he's trying to fundamentally transform the fabric of this country.

Posted by: arlingtonresident | September 10, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Cohen, you are a racist for introducing the topic.

On top of being a racist, you are a puppet for the obama administration and the left. Shameful. The post needs UNBIASED journalists.

Posted by: jim000122
*************
jimbunchanumbers, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Mr. Cohen is looking at the motives of an increasingly angry, lawless and disrespectful group of political outcasts (the Republicans) and questioning the possibility of racism as one cause of this embarrassing behavior.

(This is setting aside that Cohen is not a journalist but a columnist--different thing, maybe you should learn the difference before mouthing off.)

Why are you so quick to accuse Cohen of being a racist? Is there anything you'd like to say about that?

Posted by: dbitt | September 10, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

This would never have happened under Clinton: a progressive WHITE SOUTHERN Democrat perceived as a centrist as opposed to a Obama: a Hawaii-born Illinois Democrat perceived as a radical (though he is far from it). I don't know for certain that race has anything to do with this (and that is all Mr. Cohen is doing - postulating a theory), but it certainly begs the question. For those of you in the commentariat who think racism is gone, then you've had your head in the sand, fooled by the political correctness and pleasantries of the last 20 years. There is something brewing in much of America and no amount of social engineering can actually get rid of it entirely. It can only be called out when seen or perceived and we have to be honest with ourselves as a Nation.

So yes, racism is always a possibility and ignoring it claiming someone's playing a "race card" is just making it more likely that it'll explode in your face later on. Confront it now.

Posted by: brandonwcorbett | September 10, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Certainly in some parts of the country rascism plays a part in the anti-Obama sentiment. The larger picture is that the Republican party has become dominated by political ideologues who are xenophobes and react disproportionately to ideas they do not hold. Nevermind that Obama, Clinton, and eveb George H. W. Bush were NOT out to destroy the country, their apostasy or heresy was intolerable to these people. The country is changing and these people can't see that America is not a flag or some territory or some absract idea. America is and always has been it's citizens, who overwhelmingly elected Presidant Obama.

Posted by: heveymana | September 10, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

To those who think Wilson's outburst is okay because Bush was questioned strongly during his term, I remind you: BUSH WAS NEVER HECKLED BY A MEMBER OF CONGRESS. Maybe a rude protester, but NOT a fellow lawmaker. A child would be kicked out of school for less. The far right has no manners, are rude, and un-patriotic. Sign me, former Republican and PROUD MODERATE.

Posted by: VoiceofReason5 | September 10, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

The Democrats routinely heckled Bush -- including during State of the Union addresses. Back when dissent was patriotic, remember? Under Obama/Biden, now patriotism is shutting up and "paying your taxes".

Obama's complicit media handlers are just annoyed that his precious telepromptering was interrupted. It's hilarious how any crticism of Obama whatsoever is racist. Way to completely devalue real racism.

Posted by: zippyspeed | September 10, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Apparently your column has touched a nerve. I'm not sure if the ugly behaviour on display by the GOP is motivated by racism, but I think you hit the nail on the head about them questioning the legitimacy of this President. They can't stand him, and will go to any lengths to oppose him. This is not their vision of America, and it makes them scared and angry.

Some commenters have posted that criticizing POTUS is not racist. So true. But the tone of the criticism betrays a rabid loathing that seems completely out of place.

Thank you for spotlighting the nastiness.

Posted by: jmehta1 | September 10, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

The problem Mr. Cohen is that there is no longer a republican party. The party of Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Dewey, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan died when talk radio became the preferred method for this angry right wing that has pretty much taken over what used to be a legitimate political party.

It does not take a genius to ask the question: What is in the water in South Carolina? Mark Sanford, Jim DeMint, now this ignoramus, Joe Wilson. Or what are they inhaling down in Texas that could make their Governor sidle up to segregationists and secessionists? And did you catch the spiteful contempt on Joe Baton's face as Obama was pleading for civility?

What is in the water in South Carolina and the air in Texas is the toxic venom of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck who are now the avowed recognized leaders of what was once proudly described as the Grand Ol' Party.

Well there is nothing grand about this bunch.

Posted by: jaxas | September 10, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

There is still racism in America, but criticizing an elected official does not make you a racist. Attempting to stifle dissent because a politician is black, and throwing around the word "racist" hurts the cause of justice for all. President Obama repeatedly attacks white women (Hillary, Palin, his grandmother) -- is he a racist? We have never seen him attack black men, even though some of them are real slugs(reverend Wright, Van Jones, Charlie Rangel). Does this imply he is rascist because of his refusal to criticize black men but personal attacks on white women? Is he pro-criminal and anti-white cop? There is a lot of evidence to this argument.

By calling any opponent of a President "racist" will enrage those with legitimate arguments against his policies, including many whites who voted for him. We did not lose our right to oppose policies of our elected officials because they are black.

In fact, the media's refusal to criticize Obama and people like Charlie Rangel show a reverse racism and censorship that demeans journalism.

This is the same group that lauded the shoe thrower and praised Code Pink.

Go figure.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | September 10, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I agree with you Cohen. The disrespect being shown to our President stems from the fact those individuals don't believe that he was rightfully elected. The Dems need to come out swinging and stop trying to play nice with a bunch of uncultured, uneducated idiots.

Posted by: marhwv@aol.com | September 10, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Unbelievable. People on here aren't thinking rationally. There is just no place for a US Representative to heckle a US President or even for other congressmen to hold up signs.

I am starting to believe that race plays a bigger part or maybe race just makes them more aggressive in their discontent?

Either way the political fall out from this should be felt soon, and at the very least will provide excellent fodder of soundbites and pictorial footage of congressmen holding of protest signs at the Joint Session of Congress.

In the end, what have they accomplished for their party and their constituents, other than showing the world that members of the Republican Party lack civility and maturity?

Posted by: wlockhar | September 10, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen,

I agree wholeheartedly with your comment. There has been and continues to be escalating retoric that rises beyond ideological debate. It's clear that if this were Jefferson Davis the president, the response, even in disagreement would have been more respectful. I've read the posts from so many of you who deny racism that it only confirms how ingrained it is to each of you. You don't think it's racism when to you, it's just the natural order of things. The greatest trick the devil played is to convince others he does not exist. The same goes for your racism!

Posted by: bigjames357 | September 10, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Crying "racism" at every turn is the hob gobblin of a little mind. The discourse will never rise above name calling when people with a difference of opinion can expect the knee jerk reaction of convenience. If you don't like the name calling -- "liar" -- then don't abett it with "racism."

Posted by: beebop1 | September 10, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

There is clearly something raical going on that is frightening, especially since it is being done in code that, for the most part, only southern whites pick up. The thing about the school speech, the outburst by Wilson, the statments by another southern Republican this spring to the effect that Obama was "out of control" all mean one thing: "we gotta shut this black boy up."

Posted by: RadicalGlove | September 10, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Racism is a part of this animus. They can deny it all they want but when you have these screeching old hags at town halls or tea parties or even during the campaign talking about taking "our country" back, or Obama being born in Kenya, or of being an "Arab", what else are normal, rational thinking Americans to think?

And when we are not hearing that, we hearing these hysterical McCarthyite slurs that Obama is a communist or a socialist. This is just plain nuts. Anyone who believes that an active central government that help its citizens through legislation that has sustained the Constitutional process of debates in both Houses and voted on by the representatives of the people is somehow socialism or communism is ignorant, uneducated or just plain stupid.

Thaty is what the American people got a whiff of last night--a republican party dominated by ignorant, uneducated, ridge running dumbos who see communists and evildoers under every bed.

Posted by: jaxas | September 10, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I agree with this article. He is smart and he is black. He was disrespected last night and shame on the Republicans. They need to stop being the party of the religious south, since there actions do not portray what religious should be all about.

Posted by: sed81650 | September 10, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Radical Republicans = Racism.


It's been that way since segregation.

Posted by: bs2004 | September 10, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

You Republican apologists need to get your heads out of the sand: your party does actively court racists. Most of your Southern supporters fly the Confederate flag, especially those in SC. All that "birther" nonsense is repressed racism. Your Congresspeople deny what they know is actually written in the bills before them and search for hidden agendas that support their paranoid views. The fact is, the proposed bill clearly states that no illegal immigrants will be covered under the propsed health care. To call the President's statement on that point a "lie" is itself a lie - one fueled by racism and desperation.

Posted by: kwlib | September 10, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Wonderful column. Not at all surprised that the fringers are showing up in full force with their red faces and clenched hands and "IknowyouarebutwhatamI" counter-charges of racism. (I love how the current trendy response to a thoughtful discussion of racism is to call the person racist for even bringing it up. Nice. Transparent but nice.)

Yes, there does seem to be some sort of visceral nerve that's been exposed and I like your point about looking back to another, uglier time. It's also worth remembering that Kennedy's Catholicism, which seems like such a non-issue to us nowadays, was HUGE. There were political posters all over Dallas, "WANTED" signs with Kennedy's face on them along with some very inflammatory rhetoric.

Posted by: NYC123 | September 10, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

It is so obvious to me, a litle old white lady who usually does not see racism, that this is racism. Go look at the Photo Gallery in the Post and fid the picture with Joe Wilson at the center. The other good ole boys in the pep club sitting around him are all smirking, and it is exactly the same smirk you can find on white faces in pictures of civil rights struggles in the South in the 1960s. I was shocked but I recognized this immediately on a gut level. These men need to look into their hearts and their motivations about why they felt entitled to treat President Obama the way no other US President has been treated during an address to Congress. Then they either need to immediately apologize or vacate the chamber for representatives who know how to behave in a civil manner to our top Executive elected by the will of the people. Hopefully, more of them will be female. I am convinced that if we had a more natural gender ratio - regardless of party - in the Congress, we would get more needed results and less unnecessary posturing and rancor.

Posted by: JulieMcNamara | September 10, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

jim000122 is exactly right. The Left's Wall of Hate is now being deployed against Joe Wilson the same as against Sarah Palin. The reason is their racism. Palin was a symbol of white fertility that the Left can't stand. They call any white with multiple children stupid and backward. Palin told the truth about Obamacare becoming death care.

Now Joe Wilson has told the truth that the Supreme Court rulings combined with no identity check combined with amnesties combined with outright cheating by Hispanic run hospitals and clinics means that illegals are covered. The Left knows it. That is why it deploys its hate methods against Wilson. One of those is calling him a racist.

Posted by: OldAtlantic | September 10, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Please show me the column where you criticized the democrats for hissing and other actions taken during some of President Bush's speeches to Congress. The good news is that Americans will not know how to evaluate the President's message about health care and will go back to their instincts in believing that it is bunk because the press is focusing on protests and outbursts. And no its not racist, its just plain political payback.

Posted by: genericrepub | September 10, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Please Cohen, haven't you and the rest of your ilk tired yet of beating the "racist" dead horse?

Joe Wilson has a valid point. Nothing in any of the bills mandates that someone prove their citizenship before receiving government healthcare. One of the bills says illegals are not covered, but if no one has to prove their eligibility then it's kind of an empty statement, don't you agree?

Obama is doing his very best to spend this country into financial servitude under the Chinese and his media acolytes are in lock-step behind him.

There is no "health care crisis" but there dam sure is a jobs crisis. Obama needs to put away the taxpayer's credit card and focus on getting the anxious and angry taxpayers back to work.

Put down your stick and step away from that dead horse, it is really starting to stink.

Posted by: spamsux1 | September 10, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

One must not heckle the President during a speech, even though you disagree with his position or circumstances of his birth. This is not acceptable.

However, Mr. Cohen took a leap of reasoning when he stated that if you do not think Obama is natural born, then you are a bigot. What is wrong with asking the right question? In this case, Mr. Cohen is doing a similar disservice to democratic decorums as Mr. Wilson.

Posted by: ssensharma | September 10, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I weep for my country. What was once the proud and relevant Republican party has transformed itself into a right-wing hate group which not fit to be present when the President of the United States speaks.

Shame!

Posted by: SmallTownVet | September 10, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Funny I do not recall such concern when Bush was shown much more than disrespect. Does anybody recall that we democrats were the racist's and the republicans got the 1964 Civil Rights Bill passed? Clearly we Americans know no history.

Posted by: mct1 | September 10, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

More than racism, I see the uncivility as the permenent campaign culture. The President talking to school kids is seen as a campaign event. Issues are not debated, but seen as an oportunity to give "Obama his Waterloo".

It seems that instead of dealing with complex issues, the horse race is easier to understand. We do weekly poll watching, even when Congress and the President are on vacation.

Given the attack mode of Atwater, Rove, and others (Move ON.org sometimes). Not being civil in now seen by some as what... governing?

Posted by: Landknelson | September 10, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

The GOP behavior was so third-world. What a shame.

Posted by: papito2you | September 10, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Please, disagreeing with the President does not make someone racist. What Richard Cohen is pointing out is the extreme manner in which the Republicans are showing their disagreement. The Republicans are behaving so disrespectfully towards the President with no recognition that they should at least respect the office if not the office holder. Democrats disagreed with Bush but this level of disrepect is unprecedented. That was Mr. Cohen's point.

Posted by: kalixmd | September 10, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Two observations: (1) The hecklers all seem to come from the former states of the Confederacy. I guess that's just a coincidence....

(2)Also, a poster above made this comment:

"Radical Republicans = Racism.
It's been that way since segregation."

There was a time (okay, way back in the 1860s-70s) when "Radical Republican" referred to those, like Charles Sumner (Rep. Sen. from Mass.) who supported black civil rights.

Posted by: WmHooper | September 10, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

As I read all these comments, I am amazed, yet again, that I ever was a member of the Republican party, or that I ever allowed myself to be associated with the ignorant rantings they provide here. Not once did we ever see a Democrat shout out anything like the 'esteemed' member from South Carolina while George W was speaking. Republican party members, listen carefully: YOU HAD 8 LONG YEARS TO MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE, ANY DIFFERENCE AT ALL. George W. Bush admitted in an international television interview, that the reason he put this country into chaos and into war in Iraq, was false. Herein I quote, " no, we know that Iraq had no part in 9/11, but hey, Presidents don't get to do do-overs". End quote. You had 8 years...you cannot defend the facts, you cannot deny them, and this country is in horrific shape. And some of you are concerned that the present President is trying to change the fabric of this country?? If you had half a brain, wouldn't you think that for God's sake, someone should change it from where we have been?

Posted by: ppsuperfoot | September 10, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Crying "racism" at every turn is the hob gobblin of a little mind.

Posted by: beebop1 | September 10, 2009 11:12 AM

One of the great lines of all time.

Posted by: OldAtlantic | September 10, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Of course it is racism. When you have fat, white women on TV crying..actually crying! because the president is going to give a speach to their children on staying in school and working hard, what else can it be. Either these people are bipolar, racist or , maybe most likely, both. What is next shoe throwing?? Unfortuanately, the poster child of these people, Sarah Palin, is also a bigot and dumb as dirt. And now Rep. Joe Wilson shows that he is also. We haven't come as far as we thought, I guess. SAD.

Posted by: sux123 | September 10, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone really think if Joe Biden was President and was pushing universal health care reform Republicans would have been any kinder??? This has NOTHING to do with Obama's race or what the birthers think and Cohen is a nitwit to try to say it does. As far as Republican reaction yeah they were wrong... but they learned from the best.. the Democrats during Bush's speeches.

Posted by: sovine08 | September 10, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Cohen on this one, yet I also wonder when was America EVER civil towards anyone or any group or any state or any entity?
* Only country to use the A-bomb; TWICE.
* 4 presidents ASSASSINATED and many others have attempts on their lives
* Institutionalized racism for over a century and implied racism forever
* Endless wars with weak helpless nations, but open trade with powerful ones (China, Russia)
* Unequal justice based ONLY on wealth of the citizen
* Natives (American indians as well as poor) confinement to the ghettos
* WWII carpet bombing of Europe

There's a long list but the facts do not bode well for civility.

Posted by: sunman88 | September 10, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I agree, Mr. Cohen. Yes, Democrats have said disrespectful things about Republican presidents, but last night was qualitatively different. Never before have I witnessed the contempt that was on display, especially with Rep. Wilson's outburst. I think that the racist component is evident in the fact that he could even utter the phrase in the that forum. Something deep inside allowed him to feel it was somehow excusable. Personally, I found it frightening to see how the level of discourse has fallen to such a contemptible level, and am equally frightened by the vitriol expressed in the opinions of many posters here, but, sadly, primarily conservative posters.

Posted by: beebopareebop | September 10, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

jim000122, if you want unbiased journalism I would suggest you stop reading the opinion section.

Posted by: clamb1 | September 10, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

WmHooper, that was before Republicans learned they could use the "Southern Strategy" to lure white southern voters to the Republican party; gaining political power while creating a permanent rift in society. Just because it worked didn't make it right.

Posted by: kalixmd | September 10, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

i agree with your analysis, and am surprised nobody has put this forth before. It is like homophobes. the biggest homophobes are frequently the biggest closte cases (Larry Craig). It's a thou dost protest too much. The right complains he is not a citizen? that he wants to indoctrinate our children? That somehow getting health care for everyone makes him a Nazi? The he is somehow a racists? None of these agruments have a shread of truth. So yes, i agree, one has to wonder what the true motivation is. It wasn't this bad with Bill Cliton so it isn't because of his political pursation. It is certianly reasonable to question if the real motivation for false attacks is bigotry.

Posted by: bbuchanan65yahoocom | September 10, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

The actions and attitudes of the right-wing nuts are the actions and attitudes of racists, whether they like it or not. There are a group of Republicans and their sympathizers who can't stand the idea of a black man as president of the United States. As Pat Buchanan said on the Rachel Maddow show, and many of these white-wing nuts think, America was builty by the white man, therefore, the white man has every entitlement to everything in America. Unfortunately, the Sarah Palins, Rush Limbaughs, Glen Becks and the like have been embraced as passing off lies which they have dressed up as truths to many of these ignorant nuts.

Republicans have been and are bullies. They talk bi-partisanship in health care reform, but bi-partisanship means that the Republicans will write it and control it and the Democrats will get in line and sign off on it. But in bullying, one must remember that there is always someone out there bigger and badder who will whip your where the sun doesn't shine behind.

This reminds me of the era of fighting for civil rights and the water hoses, whites trying to overturn school buses with black children to keep them from sitting next to white children, signs that said, "whites only" and "coloreds only".

We are paying dearly (in lives and money) for a war started on a lie. The Republicans didn't talk about the cost of the war, but went along with the lie perpetrated on the American people. This was a bi-partisan effort, with bullying tactics by the then President Bush and Vice President Chaney, who, by the way, continues to try to use bullying tactics to discredit the current president.

No matter how you try to dress it up or down and paint it with different colors, the actions by these vociferous Republicans are pure racism!

Posted by: bander2400 | September 10, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for the insights about the underlying racism revealed in many reactions to President Obama. It is troubling that so many of the negative comments to this column overlook the fact that the setting matters. Rep. Wilson and the other Republicans showed disrespect for the Presidency. Though members of the United States Congress listening to the President of the United States they chose to act like roudy children playing the game of "is not"/"is so" on the playground. Fortunately, the President is an adult and did not stoop to his hecklers' level. As a black woman I disagreed profoundly with just about every important policy decision President Bush made. However, as a law professor I insist that my students respect the offices elected officials hold no matter how significant their policy disagreements. This rule held during President Bush's two terms, despite my personal belief that he attained the office through an appalling Supreme Court decision. The strength of our democracy is heavily dependent on a culture of respect for its institutions. I worry for our country when a major political party is so dismissive of that principle.

Posted by: mcmorisey | September 10, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

What a ridiculous article. What did anything that happened last night have to do with President Obama being Black. If he was lying as Rep Wilson inappropriately called out last night; how is that a racist accusation? Who in the House or Senate is an avowed "Birther"? And for that matter (I am not one BTW), why are birthers any worse than 9/11 Truthers or even CodePink who disrupt formal proceedings with bloody t-shirts and other stupid far LEFT antics. Leave it to liberals like Cohen to play the race card again; as if being against a trillion-dollar health care plan requires you to be against Blacks or even against Obama in general...absolutely ridiculous premise Cohen; learn how to come up with some relevant, supportable material please.

Posted by: fredgrad2000 | September 10, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, this article is about as worthwhile as dog poop on the street. Your opinion Sir is not worth printing and I'm sorry the Post picked it up. Hopefully they will remove you from their contributors. I find it ridiculous that people are still pulling the race card with regard to Obama. Sure there are some hate mongers out there, but the majority of this country is not in that line of thinking. It's people like you that would have us believe people in this country have not changed over the past 50 years. You are continuing the race issue, not us. Open your eyes. I did not vote for Obama, however, he is now my President. I will support him as much as I can, meaning I will also disagree with him on some issues where I believe he is taking the wrong path. The same with every President no matter what color he is. This back and forth name calling, childish crap needs to stop from both sides and the media, you guys just keep printing this crap. You want change? Stop printing ignorant stuff like this and move on. By the way, I'm white, 44 years old and happen to not be a racist. To use the liberal key phrase of the century, your article is offensive.

Posted by: cybergizmo | September 10, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Republicans disagreeing with Obama has as much to do with race as Liberals disagreeing with Clarence Thomas.. What's so hard to understand.. it's about IDEAS NOT RACE...

Posted by: sovine08 | September 10, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Wilson's outburst was in the setting of congressional Republicans using the address to create their own "town hall"nonsense...sending their dog whistle to all the tea baggers, birthers and deathers out there.

Posted by: Harold62 | September 10, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Were the "birthers" who questioned John McCain's citizenship in 2008 also racist?

Posted by: spamsux1 | September 10, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Richard Cohen,

You compare Mr. Wilson with the Birthers? That is a stretch, it's time to retire buddy, you're getting Senile!

Posted by: Suffer | September 10, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin utters a lie, Obama calls her on it, and Republicans become indignant. There are no "death panels" in any health care reform legislation being considered, period, even though Republicans would like to keep the lie alive to thwart reform. My God, our political discourse has become abysmal thanks to desperate Republicans.

Oh, by the way, posters attacking Cohen for not being an unbiased reporter need to know that he is not a reporter, he is an opinion columnists. He's paid to express opinions. People who are so ignorant that they don't know this basic difference should not mouth off.

Posted by: chuckbarb23 | September 10, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Richard,

You want to see a RACIST!?!?!

http://townhall.com/columnists/ThomasSowell/2009/09/08/listening_to_a_liar

Thomas Sowell is Black and he called Obama a Liar before Wilson did...

Posted by: Suffer | September 10, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse


I live in North Carolina, a state that reversed historic trends and went for Obama in 2008.

But as someone who's lived here since 1981 (I can never be considered a "southerner" and that's okay), I can tell you that Mr. Cohen got it right this time.

It's not playing the race card when there are serious racial issues in play.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) called on President Obama for "humility" in addressing Congress? What the hell is that about? Is the Commander-in-Chief Mr. Chambliss' "boy"?

Republicans need to follow Jon Stewart's advice and "pace your rage."

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-april-7-2009/baracknophobia---obey

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | September 10, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Here's my recollection of the last few years of conventional wisdom:

Phase I (from 1960s and prior, to about 2007). The conventional wisdom is simple: A black man cannot be elected president. (Much like people right now would say that a Jew, a gay person, or an avowed atheist simply cannot be elected president, regardless of party or policy.)

Phase II (2007-2008, the campaign). The conventional wisdom is now that the primary campaign and then the general election hinge upon the degree of race-based hatred of Obama (the Bradley effect, etc.) and anyone who doesn't admit it is an idealist with rose-colored glasses. Every political development is presented through the prism of race. Exit polls invariably ask whether voters acted based on race, and whether race was a negative. Big groups like "white working class voters" and "Appalachian white voters" are presumed to vote solely or primarily on race, per the conventional wisdom.

Phase III. Obama is elected. The conventional wisdom (as represented by several angry comments here) is now that his race has no effect whatsoever on his standing or in generating opposition to him. Even the idea that one American voter in the whole country hates him strictly because of his race is considered a cheap shot since there are no racially based political views in America. (Again, this is after an entire year of being told that Appalachian whites would never vote for any black man for president.)

My point is, of course, that each of these phases is oversimplified, silly, and wrong, in its own way -- including the current one (Phase III).

I think Cohen has it right that we should be asking ourselves throughout this historical, precedent-breaking presidency about racism whenever a reaction seems out of keeping, overly irrational, exaggerated, or unprecedented. I'm surprised to see him characterize the Republican misbehavior in the joint session that way. On the other hand, I do think that's why the school address lit such a fire under some parents. Their reaction was so crazy and over the top that I thought then and think now it was the idea of a black president talking to their kids that bothered them.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | September 10, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

ENOUGH with the "Oh yeah? Well, YOU did it first!" playground taunts, WHICHEVER side of the political divide they come from. OF COURSE (!!!) it was inappropriate for the Dems to taunt and heckle George W. Bush when he was president, as such behavior demeans our national discourse. The fact that it happened (although, of course, there is debate over who, Obama or Bush, has had to deal with more churlishness--AS IF THAT WERE THE POINT!) doesn't excuse Wilson and his pathetic comrades.

Demonizing our political opponents as our enemies worthy of contempt (or worse!) is killing us. In our public discouse, particularly that issuing from our legislators or our administration leaders, calling someone a liar (Joe Wilson) or a _rectal orifice_ (Van Jones) (trying to sneak this past the WaPo's automated censors) ought to end up with the perpetrator paying a heavy price. So Jones is a smoking ruin now. What will happen to Wilson? Will his constituents in SC turn him out or applaud him?

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | September 10, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Why expect anything different from the Grand Old (White Peoples) Party?

Posted by: palmtree2001 | September 10, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Yes. Racism is definitely the cause of the Republicans' disdain for the president. I disagree with the president on many issues. Yet my disagreements are proportionate to the issues. Anytime people who receive and willingly accept government-funded Medicare but protest against reform clearly are ignorant and blinded by racism. The outright contempt, disrespect, and disregard displayed by white congressmen (many were texting and holding placards) and the anti-health care reform crowd is out of proportion to the issue. They are reacting to his race, not his message.

Any black person who has ever spoken intelligently, calmly, and knowledgeably at any meeting in which he or she were in the minority has experienced contemptuousness from white colleagues. Racism isn't a black problem, it's a white problem. Case in point, Sen. McCain wasn't born in the U.S. at all not even close, but the birthers never questioned his citizenship. President Obama was born in the U.S., in Hawaii, a state.

The birthers are the illegitimate ones, descendants of Europeans, who were mostly undocumented or carried forged documents to enter this country. Or they're descendants of depraved individuals who stole this land from Native Americans, massacring them in the process, and trafficking in enslaved human beings.


Posted by: Antoinette3 | September 10, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse


I bet people like Osama Bin Laden, Cesar Chavez, Fidel Castro and Mallomar Kaddafi love it when Republicans show contempt for their government and Commander-in-Chief.

What's "conservative" about giving comfort to your enemies?


Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | September 10, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats routinely heckled Bush -- including during State of the Union addresses. Back when dissent was patriotic, remember? Under Obama/Biden, now patriotism is shutting up and "paying your taxes".

.

Posted by: zippyspeed | September 10, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

>>>>>>>

Links to prove this? I never happened Zippy.

Posted by: dougharty | September 10, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen, did you sleep through the Bush Presidency? Sure, Joe Wilson was boorish and his behavior unacceptable. I'm still waiting to hear an apology from the Democrats who boo'ed George Bush in 2005.

Furthermore, true victims of racism in the future are ill-served by the constant attribution of political disagreement to racism found in today's environment.

Posted by: purplebari1 | September 10, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Cohen, so very much for the insightful and courageous article!! We need more journalists like him who are brave enough to call racism by that name when they see it. Regardless of any political differences, our lawmakers have the responsibility to be respectful towards President of the United States. Republican lawmakers acted thuggish and rude to the extent that they did last night because President Obama is a person of color, period. Heckling their own President the way they did is only possible when, deep in their heart, they do not really believe that this particular president represents and leads them. We CANNOT have lawmakers who do not believe in their own political institution. The Republican party, not just Wilson, should apologize to the American people.

Posted by: motherforobama | September 10, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Addison Graves Wilson (notably named after two endocrine diseases) is a great testimony to his mentor and idol, Strom Thurmond. All South Carolinians must be SO proud.

No...no racism here, not at ALL.

Posted by: beachykeen02 | September 10, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Wow, how can you even brush the topic of "illegitimate presidents" without mentioning the diva of illegitimate presidents --> George W. Bush??!?

Posted by: PattiFink1 | September 10, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans are proving that they are completely unfit to govern. They don't like democracy, they don't like communal efforts to improve society, they don't even like paying taxes to maintain roads, or fund police and fire departments. No, what they really want is anarchy, survival of the fittest, and a government that governs not for the benefit of all, but for THEIR benefit.

Posted by: Chagasman | September 10, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

If southern Republicans in South Carolina and Georgia want to demonstrate that they're not racists, all they have to do is treat President Obama with courtesy and respect in public. They can save their racist behavior for behind closed doors and emails.

That's all. It's that simple.

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | September 10, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Amen. Certain conservatives refuse to admit that they are at their very core racists. Ironic, because Pres. Obama embodies the conservative (and non-conservative) ideals of self-made success and wholesome family life (unlike some prominent Republicans on their 2nd and 3rd marriages with a few affairs thrown in the mix) If only they could see past the color of his skin....

Posted by: wahoo3 | September 10, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Poll: 18 percent of Americans believe the sun revolves around the Earth. Percentage of Americans who consider themselves "conservative Republicans" or radical right: 18 percent. Hmmm.

Posted by: DonJuan1 | September 10, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

"Does anybody recall that we democrats were the racist's and the republicans got the 1964 Civil Rights Bill passed? Clearly we Americans know no history."

And we Americans who think they know history post nonsensical garbage like this.

If it were so, numbnutz, why do 90 percent of blacks vote Democrat? And why is the base of the Republican Party now white southerners? You must think they all are really really stupid.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 10, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Amen. Certain conservatives refuse to admit that they are at their very core racists. Ironic, because Pres. Obama embodies the conservative (and non-conservative) ideals of self-made success and wholesome family life (unlike some prominent Republicans on their 2nd and 3rd marriages with a few affairs thrown in the mix) If only they could see past the color of his skin....

Posted by: wahoo3 | September 10, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Always the racist card is played. Sorry, dissent, calling a person a liar is not racist. Seems we have short memories Mr. Cohen. While President Bush was in office he was booed, called a liar, called stupid, called an embarassment to the U.S, laughed at, mocked
....not just here in the Unites States, but proudly by congress persons and entertainers alike while visiting foreign countries. Bush did not whine. The media did not defend him. Time and time again he said that was their right to freedom of speech.

Talk about demeaning the office of the president......!

Facts remain. This president takes long liberties with the truth. Stimulas is doing well? On what planet? Unemployment will stay around 8%. On what planet? He will not sign the health reform pacakge if it adds one penny to the deficit? Anyone with one penny's worth of brains knows that any government run activity will spend more than projected. Recall, the president himself made a reference to the failure of the government run US Postal System. By the way, when you add those 45 million uninsured to the insured rolls........where do the doctors and nurses, and rescue squads, and x-ray technicians and anestheseologist come from
to take care of those? Economics says supply and demand. Not enough medical personnel = more cost, less services, more waiting for appointments, more Americans die. Problem is, this administration thinks of short term high profile solutions that have no impact in the long run. Read: Cash for Clunkers.

No. There was no racism last night. There were lies and stretches....from the podium.

Posted by: theartbrifl785 | September 10, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

The article is right on. The GOP has truly become the Party of Palin "pitbull" politics and Limbaugh ridiculousness. What a shame that the Party of Lincoln has sunk so low.

Posted by: paris1969 | September 10, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

As SNL news anchors would say, "really theartbrifl785?" And I guess "weapons of mass destruction" spoken in the same forum was not a boldface lie? Have you no memory or are you just clueless?

Posted by: wahoo3 | September 10, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

As usual, context matter. An excerpt from the speech transcript:

OBAMA: Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but by prominent politicians that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens.

Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie plain and simple.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Now...

(APPLAUSE)

Now, there are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

(UNKNOWN): That's a lie.

So two people identified two "lies" in the space of about twenty seconds. I would guess that one's interpretation of which is the real lie would depend on one's party identification. No racism, just two politicians calling each other liars. In other words, the usual D.C. parlor game.

Posted by: SagebrushFederalist | September 10, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Obama is being criticized because many people do not support his policies. George Bush was jumped on for the same reasons. I do not condone what Joe Wilson did last night. Personally, I thought it lacked decorum and I would not have done that even though I might think he did lie. However, I am not surprised by the outbursts and I will tell you why.

George Bush, in a State of the Union speech in 2005, was booed by Democrats when he was talking about Social Security. I don't recall anyone getting upset then about the lack of decorum. It must be only when Republicans create a stir.

In addition, the precedent for the "You Lie" comment was already set. On the US Senate floor, Ted Kennedy called George Bush a "Murderer". John Kerry, he who served in Vietnam, stated on the Senate floor that George Bush was committing "Genocide against the Iraqi people".

So I ask you what is worse, calling the President a "Murderer", committing "Genocide" or a "Liar"? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Posted by: mrstat | September 10, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I have wondered the same thing for a few weeks now. It seems like the tone in the town halls came right after the Gates incident. That tone has in some way affected how people on the Right (including the Replublican representatives) are viewing these issues.

That said, you can't really tie any specific action like this to race. And it doesn't help the discussion go anywhere positive anyway. Certainly the boisterous crowds have directed their comments towards plenty of white males (Ben Cardin, etc.), so it's definitely not that simple. Probably time to move on to more constructive discussions.

Posted by: adamsmorgan | September 10, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Also, the President had basically just called some of them liars, so I guess it made him mad. Certainly none of us like to hear that.

Posted by: adamsmorgan | September 10, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

The old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" really applied to this speech. To call Pres. Obama a liar is beyond the pale however the president’s reaction showed true class and leadership. One very telling picture was the smiles on some of the Republicans face when their fellow Congressman denigrated their House Chambers - they should have been cringing or at least have a shocked look not smiles; Rep. Cantor using his Blackberry during a Presidential address in his "house"; when Pres. Obama accurately described "death panels" as a lie and Republicans did not applaud.

I find it really hard to explain the hate and rancor that Republicans have and endorse. Shouting at a president doing a speech and your fellow Congressman smiling and ignoring his speech – they’re not that dumb. I know some posters will say it's not racism but this is not that tough of a topic that calls for this hatred.

Those sights and sounds should tell the public all they need to know about how serious Republicans are.

Posted by: rlj1 | September 10, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen - while I do not often share your views, I find your columns dispassionate, intelligent and sharp and always worth reading. However, in this case, you are blowing things way out of proportion - even as you disregard the legitimate concerns of the other side.

You argue that the subject of health care is too small a topic to have generated such outbursts. That is an interesting assessment given that health spending represents 1/6th of the economy and it is, according to the President himself, so urgent that it must be tackled this year in one comprehensive bill.

Second, you are neglecting that Rep. Wilson's outburst, in particular, was criticized across the spectrum by everyone from Senator Reid to Senator McCain. Indeed, Wilson himself apologized.

Third, our State of the Union address and other such joint sessions has become a complete embarrassment. Members jumping up and down out of their seats like jack rabbits at the smallest provocation. Alternating ovations between each side of the House. Shouting. It’s behavior evocative of an elementary school classroom rather than an occasion of state.

My memory runneth to a time when both sides acted with dignity and respect, instead of as contesting cheerleading squads, and it has now gotten to the point where I no longer watch television coverage of Joint Sessions of the Congress, but instead simply read the transcript in the paper the next day.

Frankly, it is ironic that the British House of Commons is being unfavorably contrasted with our own Congress. The Queen's Speech - comparable to our State of the Union address - is always heard in respectful silence, with neither side saying a word or proffering any applause. Our Congress would be well advised to adopt a similar approach - it might actually earn it some credibility with the general public.

In any case, a little historical perspective and a little less partisanship is in order. The behavior in the Congress last night was boorish, childish, overwrought and the hallmarks of a people who have lost their self-control and increasingly their reason. Racist, however? Nah.

Posted by: ffrey63 | September 10, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Cohen,

First, you're using the racism term incorrectly. Wilson's inappropriate outburst may be based upon prejudice or bigotry, but in order to be racist, his actions must impact the social or economic status of the individual or group. His outburst did not impact Obama's status in any way.

If I don't like you because of your race, that's not racism, that's prejudice. If I don't hire you because of your race, that's racism as it directly impacts your economic status. If I don't vote for you because of your race, then that is also racism as it impacts your ability to hold public office.

Of course, Wilson may simply be upset that the original 1,100 page document DID provide health care for illegal immigrants and as of the speech last night - this was the first mention of not including illegal immigrants in the coverage plan.... Thus the "you lie" outburst. I'm not justifying his behavior - it was pretty childish and not the quality a leader displays, but Obama's change on illegals was news to me last night. Good news as well.....

Posted by: mockymock | September 10, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

97% of all black voters voted for Obama. I wonder how many of them would have voted for Obama if he were white? Can you imagine a white candidate ever getting 97% of all white votes? I can't. And you can't either.

There is a VERY CLEAR case to be made that racism DID play a part in how blacks cast their votes. Why don't you write an opinion piece exposing the ACTUAL racism demonstraed in the black voting record, rather than the fictional racism you have created in your imagination about those who oppose Obama?

Conservatives hold fellow conservative Thomas Sowell, who happens to be black, in the highest regard. He is a national treasure. So is Clarence Thomas.

You liberal ideologues who keep bringing up Obama's race as the reason why so many people oppose him, just make yourselves look like foolish idiots.

Posted by: Groty1 | September 10, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Somewhere around 97% of blacks voted for Obama, is that racist?

Posted by: spamsux1 | September 10, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

When are you going to find something real to hide behind, maybe your mother's skirt. The left is truly composed of whimps caught in the 1960s. Maybe like a lot of us Wilson simply doesn't like the guy. I know I don't but I don't care what his race is I dislike his socilistic tendencies.

Posted by: staterighter | September 10, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Take a good look at the picture of Joe Wilson yelling at the President. You can see all the deep-seeded hate -- not just disagreement with policy -- but hate for the President (as well as hate towards immigrants he considers "illegal"). It's time to call a spade a spade and question Wilson's true motives. It's hard not to wonder indeed if Wilson's hate comes from more than just disagreement with the president's policy.

Posted by: awayinla | September 10, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the subtext of Wilson's uncivil behavior was race based. His tepid apology forced upon him by his own party is insufficient. He should have to apologize to the entire House and possibly be censured.

If should be noted that Mr. Wilson has been publicly quoted as saying that he disagreed with Strom Thurmond's admission that he fathered a black child out of wedlock with a woman who was a domestic worker in Thurmond's home. You read between the lines.

No President has ever been treated this way in Congress. Again, read between the lines.

Posted by: marty108 | September 10, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Mr Cohen, Van Jones did much, much more than sign a petition. In particular Jones proudly said he was a Communist. Did you leave this out because you actually liked this?

And racism? The left is a toxic fountain of racism today, which will poison us for years.

Your article is a mismash of nonsense and bias.

Posted by: seebelow | September 10, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

As a 70 year old African American, I am so proud of President Obama.

He stood tall like the true man he is against the slings and arrows of the ignorant, the hateful, and the self-interested, on behalf of all Americans.

He is a brave man, he is an intelligent man, and he is a good man.

May God speed this young man's efforts, for all our sakes.

.

Posted by: Frank57 | September 10, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Forget race. Wilson simply displayed the typical GOP qualities of disrespect, lack of smarts, lack of disipline, and the smallness of the party. He managed to show why the party is not relevant. The Right seems to think a raised voice and name calling will prove their point. Again, a small-minded approach.

Posted by: jckdoors | September 10, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Charlie Sheen can look into the Obama birth certficate issue if he isn't too busy with his 9/11 conspiracy work or doing underwear commercials. Or, how about Dan Rather? Has he gotten to the bottom of the Bush National Guard issue yet?

As for last nights heckler, Mr. Cohen sometimes you are very astute, but more often than not you revert to type. Liberals can't believe that anyone can oppose liberal policy based on sound judgement, so they have to be extremists, or nut cases, or when the liberal happens to be a minority, racists. The truth is that people oppose Obama because they oppose his liberal agenda. What is wrong with that?

If Frank or Rangel had called Bush a liar from the House floor, the left would all be laughing and saying it was due to "exuberance" or something cute. Remember when Bush spoke at Coretta King's funeral and all the Democrats took the opportunity to bash him while he was sitting right there? You might want to rethink who you label "The Party of Rudeness".

By the way, health care "reform" is no small issue. It is huge. It is personal. When you start messing with people in the real world in tangible ways, you better have your big boy pants on.

Posted by: rcagle343 | September 10, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Stoning the messenger for the message won’t help the facts to go away. The republicans are in self denial, but many of them are racists and can’t quite accept that the man in the white-house is black. There is plenty of evidence on these pages to suggest that. I have no doubt that given the choice between helping to govern the country or pulling it down into anarchy, the republicans will choose the latter. The goal is to bring Obama down. This is a prelude of things to come. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it will never go back in. We are in the process of becoming a banana republic. If people elect idiots like Joe Wilson, we get what we deserve. The next thing will be fist fights in the house chamber. Gun fights won’t be too far behind.

Posted by: samchannar | September 10, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mr. Cohen. No one would have ever dared call the President a liar during a speech, ever. Even when Bush stood up and deliberately lied to America about Irag, no one called him a liar,at least not to his face and in public. But somehow, it seems that this president is just a little bit less respected. Why? He won the election with a decisive margin, which is more than we can say about GW. He appears to be very intelligent, which is more than we can say about GW. And he can make a hell of a speech, which is more than we can say about GW. There is only one reason that comes to me anyway, and that is the color of his skin. We should have all realized the problems that were going to come along with the first black president, but when it actually happens, it is hard to believe that some Americans are still this racist. There is no doubt in my mind that some Americans do not feel that he deserves our respect.Perhaps with time, this will change. I hope so, for all of our sakes.

Posted by: dwag12134 | September 10, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

The racism that the president faces seems to come as a shock to many Americans. The blatant display of racism by the congress is but a tip of the iceberg to what blacks face everyday of their lives. We, blacks that is, adjusted to and accepted this hatred as a matter fact and necessary to survive in a hostile land.

We hoped that the election of Obama would somehow accredit what we thought was a true mindset change in the majority of Americans when it comes to race. What we have found out is that Obama has left to stand alone against rabid white conservative wolves and we stand idly by and watch him fend for himself.

Where is the outcry from whites who claim to be unbiased? Where is the outcry from whites who need help gaining or improving their healthcare position? Conservative as well as the so called black caucus and liberal congressmen instead of being ashamed of their cowardice posture as if they are questioning the need for a change in the health insurance system when in fact they loath Obama for many reasons. This while at least 45 million fellow Americans go without healthcare benefits.

The most stunning racist position is that of the black caucus. These gadflies goofily accept money from the healthcare industry with one hand behind their inglorious backsides while using the hand free of healthcare handouts to push Obama under the bus. And we wonder why nothing gets done in America.

Posted by: jimarush | September 10, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

wow, cohen, you're a true obama disciple. anything that doesn't agree with the radical far left mantra has just got to be 'racism'. your headline is right that there was 'racism' in the chamber last night, but like the majority of it in America today, it was coming from obama and his pals like van jones.

how about a column on how racism played a role in obama's election -- ask 100 black voters who they voted for and why....obama, on the basis of skin color -- THAT, sir, is racism. pointing out the fact that last night's speech was full of lies, while not keeping with the customary decorum of the chamber, was not.

Posted by: unojklhh1 | September 10, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Dear Wahoo3:Wake up and smell the coffee!

To take a few words from the current President: That was then, this is now. We are not looking back, we are moving forward. No excuses for the previous administration.

My concern is now & the present administration. What has been accomplished? Have relations improved with Iran, North Korea, Venezuela? Did Scotland not just free the Lockerbie terrorist? Has the dollar not fallen to a new low? Is the UN thinking about replacing our dollar as the base currency? Was Van Jones not an admitted communist? Is the stimulas working? Has unemployment dropped? How goes the war in Afghanistan? How goes the housing market? How goes US auto makers post Cash for clunkers?

Time to wake up and look around our crumbling nation....and who is in charge, President & Congress. I ask, what has this man accomplished in 8 months?

Posted by: theartbrifl785 | September 10, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen, sadly, I must agree with you. In fact I think it is more racial than most are willing to admit.

Posted by: JRM2 | September 10, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

For those who doubt if racism is at play in this situation, ask yourselves, "Would Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) have acted in the same, disrespectful, manner had the President been white?" So, if you don’t see this as an issue, then YOU are the problem. Mr. Cohen, “Thank you” for your astute observation.

Posted by: Chi-Town_Logician | September 10, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm amazed at the content/tone of the comments made about this column, the stark emotion and venom directed at Cohen. When an issue produces such reactions it is, by definition, an important one to raise.

I share Cohen's concern. I was shocked by the open contempt for the office. The question must be asked: what would lead "leaders" to believe they could behave in ways that would require intervention among elementary school students? Vehemently refusals to consider racism as a possible reason reflect a reactivity that only underscores the importance of asking whether racism plays a role in the behavior. If not racism, what is the motivation? What we saw in many Republicans was not a rational, constructive, or honorable response to Obama's efforts.

Posted by: Consider_the_source | September 10, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Based on several of the postings here, it appears that the United States has made some progress since the 1940s and the 1960s. At least today's racists are embarrassed enough to be publicly identified as racists that they deny their bigotry - probably even to themselves.

Posted by: FoolontheHill1 | September 10, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Of course the opposition to Obama is rooted in more than racism. But you're either kidding yourself or completely divorced from reality to contend that *none* of it is racial.

An even broader basis of so much contempt and even hatred, I believe, is the "threat" of his success in moving the country away from the dominant value set espoused from the bully pulpit before his election, when good, white, God-fearing folks ran the place. Clinton faced this same overt hostility right from the start, for the same basic reason: he represented a turning away from the previous 12 years of Reaganism, which these folks held holy. Bipartisan support for the public good? Remember: his first budget received exactly ZERO Republican votes in the Senate, and was passed only when VP Gore cast the tie-breaker. Turned out that Clintonomics did pretty well for this country, but that still didn't stop the "vast right wing conspiracy" from doing everything they could to drag him down. They hated his guts, because a majority of the people like him and that threatened them. Same "stuff", different day.

Posted by: ww12 | September 10, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

The party of "family values" shows that parents no longer need to teach their children to be respectful or polite.

"Family values" apparently now include talking over other people and even interrupting them with insults.

Posted by: theRealCalGal | September 10, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

When the Republicans impeached Bill Clinton, the London Times pointed out , "When people vociferously claim that it's not about money, it's about money. When people say it's not about religion, it's about religion, and when people say it's not about sex, it's about sex." Certainly seems to shed some light on the nature of the more heated comments posted here.

Posted by: deniskiely | September 10, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Right on, Richard. While Bill Clinton may have drawn more than his share of political fire, he was still a Southern white boy who nobody had to ask, "Who IS he?" or practically spit on him on the dias. Barack Obama? The uppity slave who doesn't know his place. It would be funny if, as the president noted, it wasn't so hateful, ignorant-and transparent.

Posted by: hillary12 | September 10, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Divide and conquer is Cohen's methodology. Obama is a mulatto. He is a caucasian Cohen. I noticed when Obama had serious problems with Hillary during campaign that he would lie his way out of problem. Obama is a big liar on many topics from his birth place to his communist czars and his real positions on issues. Congress both Rep and Dems has no clue. Congress is clueless.

Posted by: mascmen7 | September 10, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Slightly off-topic--Could someone clarify for me whether the Gentleman from South Carolina said "You Lie!" or "You a Lie!" I couldn't tell for sure from the tape, and I want to make sure I wrote it down accurately.

Now I'm saying this as a Southerner--with a capital "S"--You know, South Carolina is going to be the ruination of us all before it's all over with. Do you remember the last time we all went along with what they did? We got starved, whipped, burned out, and overrun by damned Yankees. They kept coming. Hell, I married one that came not too far from Gettysburg, Lord have mercy on me.

Maybe it's just my (very traditional) progressive-leaning nature, but I definitely have heard some of the code language thrown about in all this foolishness. The sad thing is I think it's not a conscious thing at all, I think they don't even know they're doing it.

We need to step back, reach into our tool bag for a can of civility grease and a reason wrench, and get to work. I certainly don't agree with all of the administrations policies, but I heard some good, forward thinking concepts last night that can really work if we put it all together. Like my--and your--president said, let's consider good ideas wherever they come from. Go back and see what Senator McCain said--good ideas. And please, let's not let South Carolina ever again lead us on any matter. It just never works out right.

Posted by: OwainOzymandiasBuck | September 10, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Mr. Cohen for finally addressing this for what it is.

If anyone had done that to W, they would have been labeled a traitor and unAmerican.

It's not the Right's opposition that makes this racist, though many on this board want to make that the case. Mr. Cohen didn't say that.

But the level of disrespect has its roots in bigotry. Just because you didn't burn a cross and call him the N word, doesn't make it not racism.

Just look at the Tea Party crowds and Rush listeners and you know what this is about.

Republicans do this on purpose. By doing so, the can continue to justify their behavior, and like they did for the last 8 years, make it seem like their opposition is crying wolf.

Posted by: magicInMiami | September 10, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

87% of Hebrews voted for Obama. Is that racist or religious? 95% of blacks voted for Obama. Is that racist?

Posted by: mascmen7 | September 10, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"But the level of disrespect has its roots in bigotry."

You mean like the people in Obama's administration who call people "White *ssh*l*s"?

Pardon the pun, but that's the pot calling the kettle black.

Posted by: Skeptic1 | September 10, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Funny, when it happens in the US Congress it's called "Rude and disrespectful." When it happens in the British House of Commons it's called "Question Time". Maybe Obama needs a dose of what Gordon Brown goes through every week.

Posted by: kettke1 | September 10, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

No matter how boorish Republican behavior gets, Richard Cohen will always find a way to use it to criticize liberals. Sorry. In 1967, LBJ was reviled because of Vietnam. He was responsible for its escalation and for the deaths of 1000s of Americans and an even greater number of innocent Vietnamese civilians. Comparing LBJ's opponents in 1967 to the birthers and southern crazies who howl and bray at Barack Obama today is yet another example of the specious reasoning of the Post's opinion writers. Vilifying LBJ at the height of the Vietnam war may have been unkind, but it is in no way comparable to the southerners today who refuse to accept Obama as their elected president.

Posted by: Ladyrantsalot | September 10, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

While I was no fan of Bush II, the uncivility of Pelosi was classless calling him insane, stupid and retarded with nary a comment from the classless mass media. Now Rep. Wilson states the obvious about our chief liar who lies about his birth place, the mass media feigns indignation.

Posted by: mascmen7 | September 10, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Look at most of these comments and consider, what has become of rational behavior, critical thinking, and civil (stress on civil)discourse? After watching and listening last evening, I wonder if such atributes exist in the GOP anymore, the party I once supported as a moderate but was left behind by the extreme element which took over. Without the middle, there is no apparent opportunity for consensus given such boorish and childish behavior, admittedly on both sides. Health care is a moral issue, not a political one being driven by vested self-interests.

Posted by: McGregor1 | September 10, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Wow, you really don't get it! Pres Obama will have his way the same way he won by 59% of the pop vote. Your ugly hateful days are numbered. Right is right, you can't stop it!
The country has been educated and eyes opened. We get more done when we all work together, but you can't seem to put your back woods attitudes down. No worries..this America will continue with or without you!
Wondering who "YOU" is? The racists, anyone who thinks we all not created equal.

Posted by: 1atDad4u | September 10, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I usually make my statement in these forums and then move on but I must respond to theartbrifl785:
This President has had 8 months, to correct 8 YEARS of complete disaster. You amaze me, who do you think was in charge when the economy finally bottomed out? That would be in the fall of 2008, and I believe it was a Republican President. He led this country to a new low over an 8 year period, and you wish to defend this? President Obama inherited a nightmare, he did not create it. YOU wake up and smell the coffee...you have had 8 years to practice.

Posted by: ppsuperfoot | September 10, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

While questionable as to time, place and appropriateness, Wilson's words were the most honest words spoken during the entire speech.

Posted by: steveb777 | September 10, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm waiting for the day the GOP unfurls a Confederate flag at one of these things. That's what they've become.

Posted by: keller1 | September 10, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

no racism here yall, nosirreee, Bob, not from Joe Wilson who was aide to Strom Thurmond who said:

“I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there's not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”

Wilson is a racist Republican pig who needs to resign or be recalled.

Posted by: coloradodog | September 10, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Someone here made the comment that just because someone criticizes the President doesn't make them racist. That is true. However it makes you wonder had Joe Biden been the President talking the same talk that President Obama had said would Wilson have shouted out "You are a liar"?

Never in my life have I seen any President disrespected like President Obama has.
This man was elected President of the United States . But since day one he has not had any respect from not only the GOP but members of his own party.

I probably will get attacked for saying this but when the GOP began saying no to everything I was reminded of behavior of white southerners during the Jim Crow days toward then Negroes as they were called.
Someone in my own family said no.

But think about it and someone else said something along this line many of these elected officials in the the House and Senate from the GOP grew up in the times of the Jim Crow days or their parents did. So what do you think they were taught growing up?
Of course as members of Congress they cannot come out and be racist, so they have to deliver it in a hidden way.

I think much of what Mr. Cohen said is correct. Racism is not dead. Yes Americans you are entitled to your opinions even if it is a racist one. But don't expect people of race to lie down and take it.
Thank God the he loves us all. After all on the inside we are all the same. Its too bad we can't see one another as God see us.

Posted by: bjlopez1130 | September 10, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I am a middle of the roader when it comes to my politics but I am indeed weary of the hipocracy in the current administration. It is high time they stop blaming everything including poor weather on the previous administration and realize that the American people are not intersted in history but in current events.

It is also scandelous that the far left liberal agenda seems to see any disagreement with President Obama as racially inspired. The headline from your Mr. Cohen's article being just one example. When Geraldine Ferraro, a stalwart Democrat of great stature made comments against Mr. Obama she was immediately accused of racism...for shame on those who said such a lie. When Bill Clinton did a similar thing he too was accused of racism. Bill Clinton of all people!!!

How long does this president plan to continue to hide poor performance or a difference of opinion under the race card. Enough is enough. we have come a long way. Yes we still have a way to go but seeing things from a different viewpoint and saying say is not racist...it is American

Posted by: stanp1900 | September 10, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Amen. Not only do I believe that there is indeed a considerable level of racism in the Republican party, I also believe that in this case, they do "protest too much." And about everything. They claim that it is okay for them to spew vitriolic garbage at President Obama because people doubted the legitimacy of Bush, Jr.'s presidency - forgetting of course that it was the Supreme Court, not a full vote count , that appointed W. President in 2000! Recently they have gone back to complaining that our President is "too highbrow," meaning intellectual and/or educated, I guess (as if education or smarts are despicable attributes!) - code words for "elite," a totally laughable concern when you think about the folks who are the actual original Republican party members - not today's undereducated, overloud trash talkers, like Rush and his ilk, but the actual wealthy, educated, classy and classist Republicans, the ones who themselves expressed anxiety and distaste for the language difficulties of Bush 2 and who filled pages and pages of op-eds and commentaries with their disdain for the numerous misstatements and obvious unsuitability of Sarah Palin. Only recently has the Republican party become one which self-identifies with its fringe -its loudest, rudest, lowest common denominator, but as far as the issue of racism, that has been part of the Republican dogma for much, much longer. Anyone who is unwilling to at least consider the part racism plays in the attacks on President Obama, is hiding her or his head in the sand.

Posted by: rmcdetal | September 10, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Au contraire, you JimBobs.

There are just so many objections that can be raised to President Obama's "legitimacy" before it becomes apparent that much of them are based, in fact, on the dark skin of his father.

His citizenship and his place of birth both have been put into play by the "birthers," even though the man's background has been verified by all of his political opponents over the years, and by those federal agencies that are responsible for his national security clearances.

His education has been challenged, even though he graduated from two top Ivy universities, and even though he taught constitutional law for 9 years at a top law school. (And even though his students, who now include federal judges from both parties, consistently have praised his intellect and expertise.)

His work experience has been challenged, even though his legislative background, his legal background, and his political background, are each substantive and successful, and the equivalent, at least, of previous office holders, including President Bush.

His wife's character has been challenged on the basis of selected remarks she purportedly has made, even though nobody has uncovered anything untoward that she ever has actually done.

He has been branded with the racist preachings of his former pastor, without regard to the fact that the preachings of many "reverends" of the right themselves denigrate Jews, Catholics ("Papists"), Mormons, Muslims, homosexuals and even co-religionists routinely, and often as a matter of "doctrine."

And he's been criticized for participating in the ceremonies of the Office of the President, and partaking of its traditional trappings, just as though he were what? White!

Sorry, but I've heard so many objections to this man's efforts to lead this country out of its many troubles that it's sickening.

It's become absurd to hear "Yeah, but the Democrats did it to Bush," or "I'm not a racist. I just don't like the man and his policies."

I've even heard folks say that the only reason he was elected was because white people were voting out of a sense of guilt.

Huh!?? How is that not racist?

We all are sinners. We all are racists. We all are afraid of "the other." That's just a matter of being human.

Denying our sins, though. That's just dumb.

Posted by: jackson251 | September 10, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

The only rascism demonstrated with the Obama presidency is 1) with black voters, 97% of whom voted for Obama, and 2) with the media who consistently describe Obama as black.

That description disrepects his mother's contribution to his genes, the fact he was abandoned by his black father as a toddler and so he his black father had very little on Obama's parenting, and that Obama was mostly raised and nurtured by his white granparents, after his mother shirked her parental responsibilities and sent him back to Hawaii from Indonesia.

Why do people like Cohen keep calling him black, when he is just as much white as he is black, and his parenting was done by people who are 100% white?

It is Cohen, and the disingenuous white liberal media, who are the true racists.

Posted by: Groty1 | September 10, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Civility from the GOP? The same party who put on a skit at a GOP meeting potraying Hillary Clinton and the aide who committed suicide as having an affair that led to his suicide? The GOP are all sons of female dogs and most people I know hate their guts. Of course there are so many here because they send the poor to fight the wars while making a lot of money on them. See Prescott Bush dealing with Germany right up until the entrance of the US into the war. See Haliburton. As for Wilson, what do you expect from a Rednech racist?

Posted by: TJDemo | September 10, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

SC Rep. Joe Wilson was just another shining example of the gross lack of civility the GOP and their town hall minions have shown. When you don't have any legitimate arguments against your opponent you just shout. I really can't say if Mr. Wilson is a racist, just that his state still proudly flies the Confederate flag over the statehouse. A symbol to millions of blacks of South Carolina's heritage of slavery, Jim Crow, and Segregation.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | September 10, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I thought this was an opinion piece, pretty hard to be totally unbiased and have an opinion. Anyway, this is what the extreme right has come to, they can't even be civil. They refuse to be. They say they respect the office and then act like children. Not more than a handfull of real conservatives among them.

Posted by: RealConservative | September 10, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I agree completely with this assessment of the situation. The need for changes to the healthcare system is something that both sides have some agreement on but the vitriol that has been shown to this president over the issue is so out of proportion to the subject that one has the sense that something else lies beneath the contempt. I believe that it is a visceral unconscious feeling by republican conservatives that a black man should not be president of the USA. The very look of the man seems to breed contempt. It is frightening because I think it is so deep seated that reason and logic has no effect.

Posted by: marlenepitts | September 10, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Shouting 'Racist' is the fastest way possible to admit that you have lost the argument.

Shouting 'Fascist', ala Pelosi and Reid, is the second fastest way.

Posted by: NeverLeft | September 10, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

As a white canadian observing the dissing of this president by the right wingers, it is not at all a stretch to see that the race of the incumbent has some how devalued the office to these folks. They have never done this to previous presidents, evwen under more provocative circumstances. The rest of the world is taking note.

Posted by: puzzledcanadian | September 10, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Based upon the logic presented to us in this pos blog, i would like to take this moment to pronounce everyone who ever said anything rude about Bush as a white-hating racist.

Thank you.

Posted by: matthrms | September 10, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

You can disagree with Obama without being a racist and you can agree with him and be a raving racist. The congressman just got caught up in the moment with Obama's holier-than-thou attitude and he apologized. Has Obama been any less disrespectful by ignoring hard facts and acting like he's the second coming of LBJ rather than Jimmy Carter?

Posted by: JoeTH | September 10, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

These RepubliKlan saltines have lost their minds, if they ever had them.

Posted by: quavaduff | September 10, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Mr. Cohen. The behavior of many Republicans last night was blatantly disrespectful. Most of the Republican delegation comes from states closer to the southern boarder of the country than the northern border. All of the Republican delegation is white. Most of the "birthers" are found in the south and happen to be white. The angry women I saw in an Arkansas town hall meeting was screaming that her American was gone and that she wanted her America back, was white. Most of the more rude behavior at the town hall meetings was attributable to angry white people. Most of the people I saw interviewed who thought the idea of the President addressing school children was an attempt at brain-washing were white and, once again, closer to the southern border of the country than to the northern border.

I am a white male and am not saying that every white person in the south is a racist, but it is rather odd that most of the crazy behavior toward the President in the last month was coming from white people. A sad observation but one that can't be ignored.

Posted by: blpeyton | September 10, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Despite what OldAtlantic thinks, saying...

"Crying 'racism' at every turn is the hob gobblin of a little mind.

...is not one of the great lines of all time. It is simply theft from Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

Which pretty much sums up the Republicans consistent opposition to healthcare reform.


Posted by: jhpurdy | September 10, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

blpeyton, by using your exact same logic we can assume that black people, who overwhelmingly voted for obama, did so only because they are black and he is black. Good job on that one.

Posted by: matthrms | September 10, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

In addition to race, there could be another factor at play here, and that is age. Older people don't have a lot of respect for younger people. And Obama, at 48, was one of the younger people in the room.

Posted by: eugene8 | September 10, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Ah, yes , you can take the good ol' boy out of the country but you can't really take the country out of the good ol' boy. Really makes you proud to be 'Murrican, don't it?

Posted by: sundog2 | September 10, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

"Obama is destroying the fabric of our country?"

What planet are you from?

The TARP stimulus was started by Bush.

Obama has kept up the two bloody Bush wars which should make Conservatives happy that America is still killing innocent people and sending young Americans to die.

He wants to keep insurance companies from dropping a person's coverage when they get sick.

He wants to make it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate based on a pre-existing condition.

And he wants to provide health insurance to those who can't afford it.

Wow, you're right. He is destroying the country.

Republicans as a party were against Medicare. They said it would destroy our country and turn us into the Soviet Union. As Reagan said in his arguments against Medicare that if it passed there'd come a day when we would tell our grandchildren about when America was free.

Even today some Republicans want to do away with Medicare.

Imagine a country without health care for the elderly. Old people would be left on the street to die without coverage from the government. It was the democratic party that got Medicare passed.

Obama is destroying the fabric of America?

Again, what planet are you from?

Posted by: edzo2 | September 10, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

it would be better if the conservatives here would just man-up and own what they really mean. They think the office of the President deserves some respect when the President is a *Republican*. Anyone with any time observing American politics realizes this is what Republicans are saying.

As far as 'playing the race card', I'm so tired of that phrase. If someone had called Obama the N-word these same folks would argue that any complaint about it was playing the race card.

Posted by: ladyfractal | September 10, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Can we simply accept that even the mildest degree of political consensus is no longer possible in this country?

To those of you on the left: George W. Bush was not your president. In your mind he legitmimately governed only half the country and forced his policies and worldview on you even as you denied his right to do so.

To those of you on the right: Barack Obama is not your president. As far as you are concerned he has no legitimate power of any kind and if he had any decency he would resign and appoint a conservative republican president immediately.

This is just the way it is now, folks. You used to occasionally hear how remarkable it was that America, in our national elections, could successfully accomplish a peaceful transition of power, even between bitterly divided factions. That is no longer the country we live in. Most liberals and conservatives would much, much rather live in a country devoid of their political opposites than have to tolerate their presence any longer. Vigorous debate has given way to seething hatred of the sort that can never really be defused by anything other than the annihilation of the opponent.

All or nothing. Zero sum. We should all get used to it.

Posted by: crblaisd | September 10, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Get off of it. Good for Wilson. I hate democrats and I hate liberals. I didn't, I used to be one, but now I loath you. Yes Wilson was wrong to shout that out, but there was some truth to what he was saying.

Obama is the most leftist president this country has ever seen. He is at his core a Marxist, who knows that his time in office will not allow him to transform this country into socialist society. But he is going to do his best to get the ball rolling. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE. If it was Bill Clinton the same thing would be going on...oh wait it did. So get off the racism crap. But then again your desperate.

Posted by: tom56 | September 10, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

What we are seeing with last night's behavior as well as the birthers, the deathers, the town hallers, etc., is racism pure and simple. There is a small, albeit loud, minority angry white Americans who cannot accept a black president nor the fact that merely being white is not enough to be first in line. How dare these under-educated white folk have to complete with better qualified persons of color!

Posted by: pgbach | September 10, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Coehn...YOU ARE THE BIGOT!

All of what you say could possibly be true if George Bush wasn't completely and utterly disrespected by Nancy Pelosi and her band of communist thugs. You are a hypocrite that should be on the street begging for money and shelter because you are talentless at best and evil at worst. A plague on your house.

IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE...

Posted by: tom56 | September 10, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Wilson is a hero. Wilson read the two bills endorsed by Barack and Barack lied in front of Congress, in front of America, Wilson voiced the Truth. "You Lie!"

Cohen is a moron, like all the Obama-clones who claim racism every time someone levels a criticism against this administration.

The Obama White House is a lot of the movie "Hangover," - we all felt good during the election but we're realizing that we're screwed as a nation for next 3 1/2 years. And you don't have to be a race-card-baiting Cohen to admit that.

Posted by: Vinorojo | September 10, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Hate against President Obama is now considered a badge of "patriotism". No matter what Obama says, it doesn't matter. Everything..everything he says is now a lie. Calling it thus is now what passes as being a true "American"

How much more pathetic can the GOP become?

Posted by: hayden1 | September 10, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

mr. cohen,
are all acorn people and the rest of the black people racist against white.
THE ANSWER YOU IDIOT IS YES

Posted by: jdeldin | September 10, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

"How much more pathetic can the GOP become?"

Watch and you will see.

Posted by: nodebris | September 10, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

i AM NOW CALLING ON THE PEOPLE OF AMERICAN TO IMPEACH OBAMA FOR GIVEING MONEY AND SUPPORT TO ACORN FOR USING SEX SLAVES AND PROSTITUTION RINGS. also trying to figure out how to get away with this stuff so they do not have to pay taxes or get caught. OBAMA THE PIMP IMPEACH

Posted by: jdeldin | September 10, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

If you disagree with the ideas of a person of color,does that make you a rascist?
Pretty soon no one will be able to say anything,this is ridiculous,and it does a disservice to people who suffer from real racsism.But what pisses me off is all those liberals who said they would leave the U.S.A. if Bush won re-election,they lied,they stayed!

Posted by: gdguy | September 10, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mr. Cohen's analysis and appreciate his courage to call this racism, knowing full well that he will be accused of playing the race card. Someone told me last night, when I deemed this racism, that calling it such was "too easy." Not too easy, but acutely obvious, but nobody wants to say it outloud.

Posted by: rease1955 | September 10, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse


if i had known a black president would have been a pretense for democrats to shame all dissent as being "racist" i never would have voted for obama.

ill never vote for a black president again. how can i?? whatever virtues he or she might bring to the office are necesarrily outweighed by the fact that democrats simply cant resist using it as a posionous political tool.

shame on democrats everywhere.

Posted by: dummypants | September 10, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Why no talk about the racism that is "affirmative action" and all the other quota programs to benefit the obama voters?? There will never be real racial progress in this country until the Al Sharptons, Jesse Jacksons, and Obamas of the world quit keeping up the all black people are victims and whites are holding em down. Guess they have to keep em in the ghetto though so they don't get educated, make money and vote Republican because they don't want to pay Euro-high tax rates to pay for all the liberal handouts.

Why not write a column on all the lies from last night's speech? Or at least what a racist Obama is -- wonder if he told the white Capitol Police officers they were acting stupidly.

Posted by: unojklhh1 | September 10, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen's statment says it all, quite succintly, "the party of rudeness has outdone itself." The health care discussions, however opposite the views, should not have stooped to the lows we have witnessed this summer. Indeed, one has to wonder whether there is repressed bigotry at play. Indeed, it looks to be so. Even with the poor decisions / actions made by President Bush, ones resulting in more than 4,000 Americans killed in an unprovoked attack & occupation, did not elicit the hateful rhetoric being seen now toward President Obama. I truly believe that the fear of a Black man as President of these United States of America has brought out the worst in some. I wish more in the media would call it like it is just as Mr. Cohen has done. This has not been about health care, it has been about hateful care.

Posted by: Nina1908 | September 10, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Police: Man with gun arrested during Obama address.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20090910/us-obama-speech-arrest/

He must not have been a racist for wanting to harm the President...No he was a true patriot...Isn't that correct you right-wing "I love to spank my girlfriend" perverts?

Posted by: hayden1 | September 10, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Cohen is the racist here...typical of liberals who always see race first.

Posted by: DaMan2 | September 10, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Cohen has the 1960's decade of hatred reasonably well described.

The comments I see here have the same invective and tension displayed by individuals failing with coming to terms of an evolving reality.

They cling to a past as if it were perfect, failing to understand the failures of the policies they support actually causing the problems of today.

The face of an American President, who only partially contains elements they recognize as their own, gives rise to old American history.

The inherent evil that is out nation's birth defect continues to damage us today.

The Republican Party, the original Party to recoginze that born in evil, has transformed into the Party of those Americans, who, divided this nation, and conducted a Civil War that today, we cannot seem to move past fast enough.

Unfortunately those enraptured with this uniquely American affilction, remain unable to recognize the symptoms as a form of America's deadliest disease. Racism.

Posted by: wmc418 | September 10, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who yelled "You lie" to the President of the United States while he was giving a speech to a Joint Session of the Congress, deserves one punishment - to be expelled.

Remember, Joe Wilson was a longtime aide to the BIGGEST RACIST of all RACISTS - Strom Thurmond - who currently resides in a very hot place.

So, one could easily deduce and call Wilson a RACIST, which he most likely is.

.

Posted by: swanieaz | September 10, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Face it, the GOP is the party of overt racism now, and they are less than 20% of the population, scr@w them.

Posted by: calif-joe | September 10, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

@hayden -- if he was merely exercising his right to bear arms, yes, he is a fine American. Sorry, but mere posession of a gun does not mean intent to harm anyone. If he had a burning cross on top of his car and said he planned to use the gun, yes, he would be a racist.

Posted by: unojklhh1 | September 10, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

You, Mr. Cohen, are a racist. If an elected official knowingly "prevaricates" and he is called on his fable, his is simply being accused of being a liar. If the accused prefaces the comment about the "liar's" race, then the accuser is a racist. I don't recall this being the case.

Your article says a lot more about who you are, then who the Congressman is.

Posted by: larrywwms | September 10, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I love Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, and J.C. Watts. Alan Keyes is too far to the right for my conservative taste, but I'll take him over Obama any day. I'm lukewarm to Colin Powell.

I admire and respect the black conservatives noted above. I despise the lefist/socialist policies of president Obama. So that gives a bunch of know-it-all liberals, who don't know me from Adam, the license to call me and those like me a racist because we oppose Obama's policies.

What a brain dead and shallow argument. Please keep it up. Independents who got Obama elected will not want to assocciate themselves with the Democrat party of hate that calls people racists based on absolutely nothing. It's shameful.

Enjoy your self-destruction.

Posted by: Groty1 | September 10, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

What an absolute laugher that some of the comments here are trying to label COHEN, of all people, as racist for simply bringing up this subject. Did you actually watch last night? The Republicans were thuggishly rude....and, of course, 99% white. What a stretch to think that a party who has virtually NO minority congressmen and is run by a bunch of southern evangelicals could possibly be racist...

Posted by: chop1 | September 10, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

The Repugnican attacks on Obama have been racist from the beginning. Their world is crumbling all around them, due to their own ineptitude and deception over the last 30 years, and all they can do is howl and scream and call people names. The defenders of Wilson on this board prove the point: full of hate and disrespect for this President. Cohen is absolutely right to raise this question. A "post-racial" America is the Big Lie, but thankfully these racist dinosaurs are rapidly facing extinction.

Posted by: stephenlouis | September 10, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I GUESS YOU WERE OUT INVESTIGATING A STORY FOR THE LAST 8 YRS OF HAPPY DISCOURSE BETWEEN GONGRESS AND THE WHITE HOUSE.

Posted by: jrzshor | September 10, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen, you are definitely on the right track with your commentary. The treatment and lack of respect displayed by some in the Republican Party has nothing to do with their disagreement over the administration's policies. It simply boils down to the fact that he's black, therfore he can't possibly be smart/competent enough to be the President of the United States and the leader of the free world.
Republicans will have to answer for their actions during the next election cycle and they'll have no one to blame but themselves.

Posted by: TonyP55 | September 10, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

And the GOP doesn't broadcast that Joe Wilson receives more $$$$$ from Health & Pharmaceutical corps than any other Congressman????????
Geeze!

Posted by: lufrank1 | September 10, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

When did the President, any President, become a King above the contempt and indignation of an unhappy body politic allowed to stand on the pulpit and lecture without debate? Standing up and yelling for your truth is an American right no matter the setting or point of view. And there is no better place for that to be exhibited than in the halls of our republic's congress.

Posted by: kmag1 | September 10, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

to the moron who wrote "The Republican Party, the original Party to recoginze that born in evil".

did you know that the "greatest" president- abe lincoln was the FIRST REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT?!

DID THINK SO.

Posted by: jrzshor | September 10, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

They say 'it happened to bush', i say 'you lie!'. Not in the well of the house, not at a joint session of congress, not on a nationally and internationally broadcast event.
See the difference is, Bush characterized the debates against his policies as un-American. In the Obama admin, all of the debate, points and counter-points are all over the news with no questioning of the other party's(GOP)patriotism.
The people who have a problem with this article are the same folks who 'claim' not to be bigots, just like alcholics claim they don't have a drinking problem.
Disrespect & distrust are the hallmarks of racism and the was on display last night.
And now all the closet bigots come out (see below)...

Posted by: priceisright | September 10, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"I hope he and other Republicans learn from it."

A good column, Richard. But the Repuglicans WON'T learn from it because it was not a "mistake" for them. It's part of a well-coordinated and well-financed (by both big business and the wealthy right-wing ideologues)effort to destroy Obama's presidency. For Exhibit A, look no farther than what the Right and their financiers (principally, Richard Mellon Scaife) tried to do to Bill Clinton's presidency though the "Arkansas Project." No, it's not a mistake, an accident, a "teachable moment." Its the way the Right does business in this country, how they destroy their opponents to reclaim the power that they feel should be exclusively theirs.

Posted by: TruthTeller41 | September 10, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

kmag1-Since when is heckling considered "debate"? Didn't your grade school teachers and your mother teach you that there is a time and place for everything? You and others like you have a lot of excuses for your childish bad behavior.

Posted by: nita3 | September 10, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Abusive behavior to presidents is as American as apple pie. No office, no person is sacrosanct. Only the Republic is sacrosanct.

Posted by: ravitchn | September 10, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

ArlingVA

It is racist. When was the last time you heard a white person admit they are racist? Trent Lott did not admit his comments were racist regarding strom thurmond. Whites would rather call Obama, the target of more racist remarks than he would ever think of as the racist, not themselves. Sorry, I am not waiting for the Klan meetings and white hoods before I am convinced. How many white presidents, even president Bush has been disrespected in this way for something as simple as winning an election and trying to reform health care. Bush did not get this much disrespect after invading Iraq or removing scotter libby's jail sentence. All Obama has done is dare run for president and actually win.

jrzshor

We all know lincoln was a republican, we also know that most republicans of today do not think the same as Lincoln. Most republicans today think more like John Wilkes Booth. The guy that shot him.

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I think you are correct. If Obama were just some white guy coming into the chamber for a joint session, no one would have treated him as badly as he was treated last night. Even before his major speech, Saxby Chambliss was advising him --through the media, of course, where GOPers wage their battle -- to enter the hall with "humility." Please. It's as if the rich white southerners couldn't handle a bright, talented black politician advising them to do anything.

Posted by: teoandchive | September 10, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

jim000122

General rule of white men in denial. Always accuse the person who dares talk about racism as the racist. The only time whites like to discus racism is if they can accuse Obama or a person of color as being racist. Generally speaking.

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

White people dont dislike Obama because he is black, they dislike him because he is a communist, marxist, Nazi, racist, unamerican, terrorist, socialist. But you cant get one of them to admit they dislike him because he is black. No one dislikes him because of that. No one. How did the people who disliked Martin Luther King like J. Edgar Hoover try to marginalize him? By calling him a communist. Hoover would never admit he disliked him because he was black. At least not in public.

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

«Johnson was considered an illegitimate president. So is Obama.»

O Richard, ¿who is it who considers President Obama to be «illegitimate»? The election, he won it, fair and square. December 2007, everyone «knew» who the next President would be, it was a «sure thing», she had it «locked up». Mr. Obama, he did not despair. Despair, that is not the American way, hope is the American way, Mr. Obama with hope carried on «his struggle», he would not give up, ¿is that not all-American? She could not be stopped, but he stopped her in state after state. She was Yale Law, she was President's wife, he was only Harvard Law, but he slapped her down. Her place is now visiting Africa, hob-nobbing with African graduates of London School of Economics, far from America, that is her place, he put her in her place. Mr. Obama, he is as legitimate as apple pie, Chevrolet, baseball, hot dogs, he beat her fair and square, his Jewish advisers, they were smarter than her Jewish advisers, he outsmarted her, he is President, he is legitimate, any people who think otherwise, they can go drink the water of the Mediterranean Sea.

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | September 10, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Wow, It's a sad day in our country when folks think that the behavior shown by the republicans was ok. Some of the folks who post on this site are scary. I don't care what color our president is but, i do care that our elected officials respect our president and the office of the president in these particular forums. The republicans acted like children who needed a trip to the back of the shed. I have never at least in my lifetime seen a president so disrespected. The republican party has turned into a party of self destruction. Republicans use to stand for morality, small government, pro-life, pro-business, conservative values and so on. They are presently the party of moral collapse, greed, adultery, and hate. The right wing of the republican party seem to be anti everbody but who they consider real American's. When did folks organize and carry guns to presidential events. Obama is a progressive president and he is new school and many folks will never accept him as our president. The Republican party whom encourages hate and bad behavior amoungst their supporters ought to be ashamed of their conduct and message. Most of these folks leaving these awful comments can be spotted in church on sunday. What God do you people serve because the God and serve expects way better than he gets from these folks. Many klan members went to church like they were going to Heaven. I'm disgusted with the right wing of the Re3publican Party. May God bless you inspite of you!

Posted by: ronniejones2000 | September 10, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Our representatives, including Pelosi and Wilson, are expected to live up to some higher standard. And, according to least-squares-fits of polls at commentsonpolitics.com, President Obama has started his skiing down hill while Republicans continue the steady strend up, probably because voters look for counter weight. There is no need for Republicans to behave less than my 6 years old.

Posted by: FloridaCounts | September 10, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Your comments are absolutely ridiculous. Obama does lie and the heckles he received were deserved. Why do you in the media continue to ignore the overwhelming number of contradictory statements this man has made? Why do you ignore his actions that contradict his statements? Why is disagreement always perceived as racism? You have no cards left to play! The truth is the truth. Admit it: the emperor has no clothes!

Posted by: Inquisitive1 | September 10, 2009 10:08 AM | Report

Why? Because we live in a country full of white racist who are in denial of their racist ways. Thats why. The AG Holder is right. People in this country are cowards ragarding race relations. You want to act racist and justify racism but you dont want to be called for what you are. It took Obama being elected for your true feelings to come to surface. When did total disrespect of your president become exceptable and deserving? When we elected a black one. But dont worry, history will show how whites in this country had a chance to show that they had evolved from its racist past in electing and at least trying to support a black president but so far whites are doing the exact opposite. They are perpetuating the legacy of racism in this country by attacking him on everything he does or attempts to do. If George W. Bush would have said that the Officers acted stupidly would you have accused him of being racist? No. Unwise yes, racist no. But Obama, he is racist if he even dares to talks about race. Whites havent changed regarding race, they just changed the words and tactics but the attitude of the 1960's is still out there alive and well. Even justified by some of you.

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

@hayden -- if he was merely exercising his right to bear arms, yes, he is a fine American.
-----------
Bowman was charged with having an unregistered firearm and ammunition
In a restricted area no less.

But thank you for proving my point. Intent to do bodily harm to President Obama makes this guy a "fine American"

Posted by: hayden1 | September 10, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm willing to bet there are some people in America who disagree with everything Obama says or does just because he's black. I'm also willing to bet there are some people in America who agree with everything Obama says or does just because he's black. And, I'm willing to bet that a careful search of the Internet would find that every single time Obama has been criticized, challenged or disagreed with, some pundit or some blogger or some politician has opined that racism is at the heart of the disagreement.

When anyone who wishes to can disparage, criticize, insult, disagree with or protest this president, without a single person suggesting that racism is an element of the dissent, perhaps then, racism will be dead. But so long as even one person believes that the race of a president should somehow interfere with the right to dissent, it will be democracy that is dead in America.

So long as Obama's supporters raise the issue of his skin color and defend him with the race card, he will continue to lose credibility and authenticity as anything but the token president.

Posted by: nlynnc | September 10, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

He was boorish, childish, and just plain rude and disrespectful to the President. But to lead to "racist" the most incindiary adjective you can use against someone is simply wrong. It's also a disservice to all of us, since it sets the stage to label anyone racist when they disagree with someone of another race. His actions were beneath his office and embarrasing for him and Congress. But racist? Maybe, maybe not. We don't know if that was the cause of his outburst.

Posted by: logan303 | September 10, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

is wapo trying to change the words "you lie" to "ni&&er"...
because it seems like it...

Posted by: DwightCollins | September 10, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I see that someone has already accused Cohen of being a racist himself for bringing up the question of racism... so... I guess if I say anything against that guy, he will think I am a racist too... It's hard to win at this sort of game. So I will simply ignore that fool. The congress must learn to mind its manners and not speak out in anger... they are supposed to be grown men and women who should have overcome any temptation to resort to racism. The real truth is that this country works not by consensus but by the power of the lobbying money, and this country continues to spend too much on lobbying for war and mayhem instead of promoting good government. For those who do not know what that is, go at least to the Internet and look up the works of art that properly depict the difference between good government - where the people prosper - and bad government - where the people die and are deprived. Keeping even one million people without health insurance is tantamount to bad government! Rationing health insurance as this country does is tantamount to bad government! Demanding that some settle for charity instead of a full coverage of health insurance - as those republicans who argue that nobody is denied care only the insurance part - is tantamount to bad government! The people of this country are beginning to see that we have had bad government for too long! It must stop! Some people get rich with bad government and they lobby to keep it that way. They want that situation to continue, they like it that way... so they can continue to get even richer. Just because the rest of us do not die of hunger as they do elsewhere does not mean that we are free to follow our dreams and have the opportunities we deserve. If we do not finally get our way in health insurance, we cannot expect good government to finally arrive. Winning the health insurance right is a must for this country to begin to think clearly and honestly about who we are and what we mean as a country... and start to end racism... to end discrimination... to put an end to the kind of reasoning that allows some to think they can continue to preach to the rest of us that we must be satisfied with what about what we think we ought to have. The time has come for us to decide for ourselves that health insurance is by far a better thing to have than all the armies in the world that can - at best - only bring a temporary peace! And stop listening to lobbyists who argue instead that our system will go bankrupt only because we get better health never because we fought useless wars and built fake weapons that did not work! With better health comes better education, better thinking, better jobs, better economic development, better sense of dignity for all and... yes! even a better ability to protect ourselves from real dangers and real enemies.

Posted by: translator001 | September 10, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen perpetuates the stereotype that when a black is disliked or criticized it must be for racial reasons. He also helps to increase the genuine resentment for people who perpetuate this race-card excuse to hide poor performance.

Posted by: williamporterfield | September 10, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

ArlingVA

Lets see, if Obama/McCain would have come down to one state, and Obamas brother was the governor of that state that decided the election I wonder what you would say about that? You people call Obama a marxist socialist for wanting to provide a government option as part of health care reform. But you would not have had a problem with him winning the election based on a state in which his brother was governor of? Give me a break.

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

To jrzshor; I am that moron.

I guess you failed to see the utter irony in the fact that Abraham was the First Republican President and today, the Republican Party finds it's stength within the confines of Dixie.

I find that astoundingly ironic.

Although Texas, in this idiot's historical memory wasn't part of the South as it wasn't a State of the Union at the time of the Civil War, Texas is the only reason that the Republican Party is potentially viable as a national Party.

When the Republicans lose Texas, they go out of the national electoral business.

Count the Electoral Votes, no Texas, no Republicans.

Posted by: wmc418 | September 10, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm a conservative, which of course means I'm without a party. Modern republicans have a capacity for expedient 'thinking' that makes me want to vomit:
'Small government', in terri Schiavo's hospital room
'Responsible spending' that turns a surplus into a record deficit, including a decade-long war fought completely off the books.
Waving the 2nd Amendment around like the freaking shroud of Turin, *but not using it to protect the 4th. What's the matter, guys; can't count that high?
I'm a Rockefeller republican and the current crop of beady-eyed redneck hypocrite fools sitting on "my" side of the aisle makes me wish Sherman had been more thorough.

Posted by: redlineblue | September 10, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree. Sarah Palin was unmercifully attacked in the press because she is a woman, not because she is a political neophyte trying to play in the big leagues and failing.

President Obama is being attacked because he is black, not because he is trying to reinvent the Great Society with entitlements for all and accountabilty for no one.

It's all about racism and sexism.

Posted by: InTheMiddle | September 10, 2009 10:44 AM

She's an imbecile, plain and simple, male or female, she's a living, breathing moronic idiot.

Posted by: mtravali | September 10, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

From the column: "[A columnist] is permitted, furthermore, to wonder if some of Obama’s more hateful critics are not expressing a repressed bigotry -- the feeling that the man up on the dais cannot really be the president of the United States. After all, he does not look like one."
===============

You're correct... he looks a lot more like a member of the Congressional Black Caucus... oops... guess I shouldn't have mentioned that, the crux of this column being racism in the House chamber and all...

Posted by: srb2 | September 10, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Those who claim the death of the republican party will find that's greatly exaggerated after the country has experienced a full four years of Obama and his friends.

Posted by: williamporterfield | September 10, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I can't get over the fact that the dems could say anything they wanted to about George W. Bush, but any crticism of Obama is labelled racist. Get over it Cohen. Obama talks down to the voters in an obnoxious way, he's in love with his own voice, and he unrolls platitudes like an oletime preacher.

And why don't you admit it. Many liberals voted for Obama out of guilt, now they're laying off their guilt on those who honestly criticize him.

Posted by: gmallet0709 | September 10, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Cohen is dead right. The opposition to Obama on so many fronts is rooted in racism. The birther movement, for all it's stupidity, is inherently racist. The Right talks about the disrespect shown Bush during his absolutely dismal failure as president. Maybe so, but no one EVER called him a liar on the floor of Congress during a major speech. This is beyond partisan; it's disgusting, dangerous and unfortunately, not surprising. Racism was clearly evident during the Sarah Palin rallies during last year's campaign, with Palin supporters wearing Obama t-shirts with N-- written across the front, and stuffed chimpanzees being waved around by smiling bigots. Don't let the Right fool anyone for a minute; these are ugly, dangerous people. We need to watch them very carefully.

Posted by: raqualung | September 10, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

srb2 - your correct. how can anyone dare speak of white racism in congress when there's a self-described "Congressional Black Caucus". Can you imagine what a Congressional Jewish or Caucasion caucus? What double standards, what hypocrisy.

Posted by: williamporterfield | September 10, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

beebop1

When you call him ever other negative word in the book except the N word what makes you think it isnt racist, just minus the n word or other traditional racist names like coon and sperechucker and porchmonkey. What should we wait for George Allen to call him Macacca? Thats the new white mans racismt/denial. Call the black guy the racist along with every other name in the book but N!gger. Continue to demean him but dont use

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

when do we get an unconstitutional, unconfirmed by the senate Racism Czar????

Posted by: unojklhh1 | September 10, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I daresay this would not have happened if Colin Powell were president. To me, as a conservative, it suggests a lack of respect for Obama. Obama is an inexperienced lighweight, with less experience than Bush, and he wants to change America. Nevertheless, Wilson should have realized that it would come across, whether true or not, as a lack of respect for racial reasons. Furthermore, despite my overwhelming agreement with Wilson's position, we have to keep some things sacred. This includes the deference given to the president at this gathering.

Posted by: hipshot | September 10, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I absolutely agree. Last night it really drove home for me - a white president would not be treated with such disrespect. I think some people are more comfortable with rude behavior towards a black man. And those who deny race plays a factor probably are the most comfortable with this rude behavior.

Posted by: jeannette251 | September 10, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

BRAVO, RC, for saying what no one else would say nor have the courage to hear. The animosity towards this president is staggering. And it can't be due to sore losers or unattractive policy. You can feel the racist undertones in the air, especially from Deep South Red States.

During W's tenure, we were supposed to rally behind the president and support him in a time of crisis. Apparently the GOP doesn't believe their edict should hold true as Obama deals with the crisis Bush 43 left us.

And are we supposed to forget when, during Clinton's presidency, Sen. Orrin Hatch called Clinton a "jerk" on national TV? Not too many people remember that.

Typical GOP.

Posted by: tpwpny | September 10, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

We all know that racism ended the day Barack Obama became President and we all know that Joe Wilson is not racist because some of his closest friends are black.

Mr. Wilson is no stranger to being disrespectful to black folks.
http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/09/you-lie-not-the-first-time-rep-wilsons-emotions-got-the-best-of-him.php

Posted by: zzstephaniez | September 10, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Racism your lily white a**, Cohen. You are a freaking clowen on the payroll of the DNC, a complete and utter whoar.

Posted by: chatard | September 10, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

White people, If you act racist, dont get mad when people call you racist. Stop being cowards. Either stop being racist or be a proud one. Dont hide behind excuses and counter accusations. If you dont want the so called race card played regarding a black president, then treat him the same way you would treat a white one. Even a white one you dont really like. Heck you treat Obama worse that you treated Bill Clinton, and you tried to impeach him but at least you allowed him to be president. Let this guy do his job. If he screws it up let him be the one that screws it up, dont screw it up for him. Give him the same respect you gave Bush and Clinton. Right now, Bush is probably saying, geeez glad I am not him.

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for this post Mr Cohen.

Yes, poor little Wilson spoke his mind.

He IS a racist bigot.

What a ludicrous and a miserable man. And his later apology makes him even more despicable.

Posted by: danielmugerin | September 10, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Mr.Cohen get a mirror and you will see a man who sees racism in every sneeze, cough or word uttered by a white male. You seek to reinterpret, intensely desiring to bring even a smigeon of misery to those terrible white faces which you hate so much but have to tolerate. Some may accept the guilt. Maybe someday you will have done enough to make up for all the Jewish persecution over the years.

Posted by: drzimmern1 | September 10, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Bowman was charged with having an unregistered firearm and ammunition
In a restricted area no less.

But thank you for proving my point. Intent to do bodily harm to President Obama makes this guy a "fine American"
-----------------------------------------
I don't see anything in there about intent to do bodily harm to anyone. By your standards, any un-showered dreadlocked hippie in the crowd at an Obama rally who has weed in their pocket came explicitly to toke up with Dear Leader. It's a total farce. If there was any evidence that he had any intent to harm anyone, there would have been charges along those lines. If he didn't register the weapon, that's a crime and he should be charged with it but to draw some crazy connection that he was an assasin is just ridiculous.

Posted by: unojklhh1 | September 10, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Just wondering...

How can one criticize HIS HIGHNESS without being automatically called a racist?

Posted by: drjcarlucci | September 10, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

«Although Texas, in this idiot's historical memory wasn't part of the South as it wasn't a State of the Union at the time of the Civil War, Texas is the only reason that the Republican Party is potentially viable as a national Party.»

«Posted by: wmc418 | September 10, 2009 3:59 PM »

O WMC418, have you never heard of «Juneteenth»? June 19, that is the day in 1865 when a Union general landed in Texas and told the slaves they were all free now, the war was over, Texas and Louisiana, they were on the losing side, they were Confederate states, but before 1861, they were States of the Union. Juneteenth, it is today a big celebration of freedom, it is a holiday, if you knew about Juneteenth, you would not say that Texas «wasn't a State of the Union at the time of the Civil War».

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | September 10, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Good question, carlucci. How can one try to catch up with the DEVELOPED world and not be called a socialist?

Posted by: redlineblue | September 10, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

You Huckabees name one, just one Democrat who jumped up in the House Chamber and shouted "You lie!" at Ronald Reagan, George the Dumber or his Father before him.

Until you can, shut up and be embarrassed Joe Wilson is the new face of your ever dwindling moron herd of Rovian propagandists.

G-O-PPPOLY WANT A KKKRACKER!

Posted by: coloradodog | September 10, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Six years ago my career path took me to Tennessee. The move has been startling to say the least. While there are some good, intelligent, compassionate and fair-minded folks here in the Volunteer State, it saddens me to say that they are few and far between. In a state where kids attend schools without books and teachers are paid less than in nearly every other state in the nation, and students' test scores show the results, parents scream bloody murder at the mere suggestion of raising taxes to better fund education. Racists and homophobic jokes are common, and concepts like workers' and tenants' rights are laughed off with remarks like, "Don't worry about things like that. This is Tennessee." Is it any wonder a Southerner feels free to call the President of the United States a liar on the floor of the House? These people do not think, act, or consider themselves part of us.

Posted by: nashvillemykl | September 10, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen:
You have taken a rare moment where the American people were addressed as thinking, capable individuals by a president who was determined to rise above the muck and have focused on a harmful paper tiger. Why is it necessary to dignify and legitamize such motives by authoring such a column. It seems that Mr. Obama has free himself from the limitations of race. It is time for all of us to do the same. Those that have these motivations should be ignored as thinking, capable people work to find a solution to an issue which will define our country.

Posted by: cgl3 | September 10, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Race schmace. President Obama presents a much greater threat to the diehard Republican rump left in Congress and America than merely having a president of the 'wrong' color.

His broad progressive view of society as having at least some cooperative, altruistic elements is an existential threat to the Reagan ideology that has become the Republican civil religion. If government is not only *not* the problem but creates a well-run, efficient, popular program for the good of all that is better than the Free Market (the true messiah of that religion) can deliver, the "I'll get mine first and you go to hell!" philosophy would be in danger of begin discredited and discarded completely.

Posted by: hayesap8 | September 10, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Brother Sharpton, I'd like to introduce you to brother Cohen.

Posted by: state82 | September 10, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Here's what Joe Wilson's mentor, Strom Thurmond taught Wilson:

“I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there's not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”

Posted by: coloradodog | September 10, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Almost every one of the Republicans attending the speech looked and acted like school bullies. Big bunch of bigots, all of them. What a strange world they have created for themselves--as far from reality as is possible to get. The American public ought to be ashamed for support even one of them!

Posted by: saf62 | September 10, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: coloradodog | September 10, 2009 4:23 PM

You Huckabees name one, just one Democrat who jumped up in the House Chamber and shouted "You lie!" at Ronald Reagan, George the Dumber or his Father before him.

Until you can, shut up
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harry Reid called Bush a liar in a 2004 interview.

Democrats booed Bush during a state of the union address (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2009/09/10/flashback_democrats_boo_bush_at_2005_state_of_the_union.html)

The substance, if not the form, of those references meets your request.


Posted by: nlynnc | September 10, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

nashvillemykl
Six years ago my career path took me to Tennessee. The move has been startling to say the least. While there are some good, intelligent, compassionate and fair-minded folks here in the Volunteer State, it saddens me to say that they are few and far between. In a state where kids attend schools without books and teachers are paid less than in nearly every other state in the nation, and students' test scores show the results, parents scream bloody murder at the mere suggestion of raising taxes to better fund education. Racists and homophobic jokes are common, and concepts like workers' and tenants' rights are laughed off with remarks like, "Don't worry about things like that. This is Tennessee." Is it any wonder a Southerner feels free to call the President of the United States a liar on the floor of the House? These people do not think, act, or consider themselves part of us.

Posted by: nashvillemykl | September 10, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse
_____
Gee, nashvillemykl, sounds rough down there. But have u visited a black neighborhood in any city in the country? You will hear plenty of homophobic, asian-phobic, anti-semetic, foul illiterate language there.

It's fun to generalize, isnt it? At least southerners dont require a 15point handicapp on their SATs to get into college. I'm from NYC by the way.

Posted by: williamporterfield | September 10, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen,
Your remarks about Republicans was rude and offensive. Your accusations of racism exist only in your own mind. I realize the media does their best to keep it alive, but it is mostly the liberals who bring it up when any criticism is directed at their "Dear Leader" because their love for him borders on idolatry. They are blind to any mistakes he might make and believe anything he says. I don't like him and his policies and it has nothing to do with the color of his skin.

The vile and viscous remarks and name calling toward Pres. Bush were over the top, yet no one in the media had such strong feelings about that. I disliked Pres Bush and his policies too. Don't forget how the Democrats acted towards him. Did you write an article about how rude and offensive Pelosi and Reid were in the remarks they made about people at the town hall meetings? I suppose that was okay since you probably agreed with them. Eight years is a long time to harbor a grudge and hate a man.
It seems to me that the Democrats have developed a thin skin when it comes to any negative remarks toward them.
After all they want to have one party rule.

Posted by: RedRose1 | September 10, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

hipshot

Whites always look at this subject is perceived racistm. As they judge him before he addresses his first piece major legislation. If you want people to think folks are against him because of his inexperience and not his race then the first thing you should do is allow him to make a choice that does not work out to prove that is what you hold against him. You cant call him wrong if you dont even allow a single policy of his to make it to vote. Thats where the racist overtones come in. The we dont trust you to do anything out of fear that you cant do it right is a classic form of it. Bill Clinton was inexperienced, George Bush was, Kennedy was, Ronald Reagan had no more experince as president than Obama when first elected. He was governor of California. Thats the kind of stuff that makes people wonder if its race. How can you say its his inexperience as president you distrust when every first term president is inexperienced unless they have spent years in congress or working under other presidents? Kind of like Al Campanis said blacks did not have the aptitude to work in the front office of a major league baseball team. How do you know that until you hire one? Obama is today's Jackie Robinson. A first of his kind to do what he is doing and people will be against him because of who he is. Thats the reality and legacy of our country. Its happen in every other aspect of our culture. Why would being the first black president be any different?

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

OldAtlantic

You rejected blacks at every other aspect when they were trying to be the first black to do something. But somehow its different when its the highest office in the land. Its the left wing racist comspiracy against anyone who is against Obama. Ask yourself this, if Obama was not black would race ever be an issue? Would their be birthers, would he be accused of not being smart enough to be president by some and too smart and slick to be president by others? Would he be met with soo much hostility regarding a piece of legislation as helpful as healthcare reform? You would think Obama was trying to get a declaration for war the way he is met with anger. I can remember George Bush going around the country trying to convince everyone that we should take our social security treasury and invest it in the private markets. Remember that? Did he get half the anger and hostility as Obama does? This was after he invaded Iraq and screwed up during Katrina and we already questioned his judgment. But he did not have all of this hostility, There were no angry mobs shouting him down. The same anger that we witnessed at campaign rallys for Palin. Are you going to say some of those people were not racist?

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

>>After all they want to have one party rule.

I guess that's the big difference between D and R? Open wide, and take your Rove-itussin...

Posted by: redlineblue | September 10, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Racism is now the standard liberal explanation for anyone disagreeing with anything and everything the wild eyed liberal (and Obama) support. It is a shallow yet satisfying explanation to a bunch who have spent the last several years trying to tar Geo. Bush and Cheney as a torturers and war criminals who should be dragged off in chains to the Hague for trial. These people have no sense, they gave no respect to the office when their mortal enemies held it and they should have the good sense not to expect any when they have it. Anyone spending a day have hundreds of sycophants and assorted boot-lickers kissing up to him needs someone to call him a liar at least once a day just to give him a touch of reality.

Posted by: droberts57 | September 10, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Illegal aliens were getting healthcare under Reagan and both Bushes, but one cannot recall fellow Republicans assailing these presidents as "liars".

Posted by: georgetown_dc | September 10, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen was right on point. Once again you right wingers can't handle the truth so you resort to your usual name calling and character assassination of the president. Truth be told, most Repugs on the Hill simply traded in their white sheets and hoods for suits and ties while they sat there and seethed at a president who should be the same color as every previous one. But alas, he isn't. Thank God there's still some hope for this country as there are some in the Repug party with some common sense and abhor such behavior. But for most of you, who the hood fits....

Posted by: sjcsando | September 10, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

unfortunately, a sense of decorum and civility has been lost everywhere you look in this country...

but...to argue that this president has been treated with less respect than GEORGE W. BUSH is laughable!

can this author be serious when he says that OBAMA's "legitimacy" is being questioned more than that of BUSH?

Also, to put the "birthers" on the level of of those who have legitimate gripes about the current administration's policies really shows how out of touch he is. those people no more represent respectful dissent than those masked people who throw rocks and flip over cars at the G8 summits.

i'm sure he finds it difficult disagreeing with anything OBAMA says or does--unless he finds room to criticize him from the "left".

And for the race card... that's just plain stupid. I think race plays as much roll in that stupid cat-call last night as the fact that he has big ears.

nothing will assure OBAMA only a single term more quickly than the repeated use of "race" to disregard legitimate criticism.

Posted by: stopdk1 | September 10, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse


Just an observation, all too obvious.

However rude, and greedy and dishonest politics has been, there have been some rules regarding civility in congress, to the presidential speeches there,

for several centuries now.

This new ugly, uwashed bunch, up from the South mostly, apparently, has no sense of what this democracy has been.

As they scream about democracy and bring it, sure as rude rednecks, and nasty zionist neocons (playing games and using the situation) , to ruin.

Posted by: tryhard3 | September 10, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Isn't that correct you right-wing "I love to spank my girlfriend" perverts?
*******

HA! what's worse? a public official who spanks his mistress (or puts a cigar in her), or a head of a tax law writing committee who pathologically lies to the IRS and is a tax cheat (ie, Charles Rangel, who STILL has yet to be stripped of his oversight of tax legislation)?

I rest my case

Posted by: dummypants | September 10, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen, you are so on the money here. So many white Republican males feel emasculated ever since an African-American man was elected president of the USA, and will refuse to give that office and the man the respect that is required and deserves, respectively. Joe Wilson's shouting of "You lie!" was his subtle cowardly way shouting, "Boy!" or "N-----". I have never been so ashamed of being a white male, when there are such classless cowardly ones in our ranks such as Joe Wilson, Russ Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, etc. We go from the greatest generation from WWII, to the generation of sleazemeister chickenhawk Republicans neo-cons.

Posted by: WishboneNolan | September 10, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Actually, he said it because he does not like Jewish people. I don't think obama is jewish.

Posted by: yokosuka1985 | September 10, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

gdguy

I dont know what is more pathetic. People who are racist or people who are in denial and want to act like they are victims when they are called out. What republicans need to realize is Obama really does not need your approval, he could be a hard ass and force his legislation through congress on party line votes the same way our previous president did. Furthermore, what are republicans doing besides acting rudely and being obnoxious? You would never think that just a year ago they were in charge of government and could have fix whatever was lacking regarding health care. I wish they had as much gusto to stand up to their own leaders as they do standing up and fighting Obama. But in the end the republicans will make themselves even less appealing as they hope to make Obama.

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

White folks are just showing their true colors! They can wear Brooks Brother suits but they can't hide their racism and bigotry! The only good that came of this is that the world can see whites in america for who and what they really are!

Posted by: pythomas48 | September 10, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Cohen. The question of possible racism must be asked because the misbehavior was so unprecedented.

Posted by: uh_huhh | September 10, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

you'll never hear the N word in black neighborhoods either, right? oh, but that's ok. what a bunch of idiot liberal buffoons.

Posted by: unojklhh1 | September 10, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

If everytime a Democrat had said something rude to Mr. Bush, someone had cried, "racism!" that person would have been insane. The same rule applies this morning.

Posted by: mhr614

Given the history of this country regarding the first black anything you sound plain stupid. The average white man would not trade places with Obama, a black man and he is president because the average white person knows exactly what the first black anything in this country has to face. Like Jackie Robinson, Obama has to turn the other cheek. But that did not stop people from attacking Jackie because of his color. Those people thought they were justified as well. People also deny the holocaust as a way of disrespecting Jews. Poor white people, what happen to the good old days when you could just be racist and no one complained about it?

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Cohen's comments echo my own thoughts. As I watched a steady parade of twisted, angry faces, parading around with guns and hateful signs this summer; as I listened to one demented conspiracy theory after another, I wondered: Can this reaction to Obama really be just about health care? Or the role of government? Or the bank bail out?

The more I analyzed it I began to realize that hate this out of control and menacing comes from something far deeper than any political disagreement. Conservatives didn't like Clinton, but I don't recall ever seeing the level of hate directed at him that I've witnessed lately.

Frightening. I hope the president's security detail stays on its toes.

Posted by: EnemyOfTheState | September 10, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Really? A guy shouts out "lie" and he is now a racist.

You're an idiot.

Posted by: ebeck1 | September 10, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

In reading the comments posted here it is readily apparent that the 'let's shout down the opposition' tactic of the health care town hall meetings has moved online.

It is also readily apparent that many of the same people trying to 'shout down' Mr. Cohen have not even read Mr. Cohen's editorial, let alone given his points any thought.

While many of you make it abundantly clear that you are angry, you also make it very clear that your opinions are frequently not based on fact, nor on any rational thought process.

While most of us do not post under our an identifiable identity, the quality and voice of our posts does reflect on the parties or people whose positions we either support or oppose.

What this means is that if you are going to act or write like an fool online, people will start to think the position you are supporting is held only by a bunch of fools.

The Republican party is dead. In its place we now have the second coming of the Know Nothing Party!

Posted by: SmallTownVet | September 10, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

There is sharp contrast between the President's character as a person and his integrity as a public servant compared to the right wing radicals that have become the mainstream of the republican party. The disrespect that was demonstrated during yesterday's address was unprecedented and inexcusable. I see very little difference between the radical right wing forces here at home and those abroad. The only thing worse are the weak-minded people who are manipulated by them.

Posted by: angrob | September 10, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Showing up at presidential events with guns, breaking all precedent to heckle the president during a speech to Congress--this is race-based intimidation. They wouldn't be doing it if Obama was white. Look around, some of these good old boys probably have nooses in their rucksacks.

Posted by: msmihai | September 10, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Groty1

97% of blacks voted for Clinton too. Before Obama ran for presidents 100% of white voters voted for the white candidate. Your argument is weak. Blacks have only had a legitamate black candidate twice in history. You mean to tell me that you feel that if whites support other whites in elections thats ok but if blacks happen to support a black thats racist? With your logic you just proved that whites are racist because they have always voted for white candidates. Right? With your logic any attempt at diversity is racist because it negatively affects the majority. Maybe blacks should give up their jobs their right to vote unless its always for a white candidate and go back to being slaves. That way we cant be accuse of being racist. MLK was racist for not fighting for rights for white people. I guess thats your logic in a nutshell. Thats the thinking of a white person who assumes entitlement over everyone else.

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Based on a huge number of the comments here, it's clear that Wilson knew he wasn't alone. It's also clear that we have a long way to go before we eradicate racism in the United States.

Posted by: collins1 | September 10, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Greater than $350,000 and growing for Wilson's opponent, Miller, and $1,087,000 for the DNC - without a fund raising ask in the email. All
in less than 24 hours after Joe Wilson's outburst.

Please could we have more of you GOP pukemeisters spew more of your hatred and bile?

Thank you for your support.

Posted by: hayden1 | September 10, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse


ArlingVA (see ArlingVA comment below), Never has a member of Congress paid such disrespect to the Office of the President of the United States as Joe Wilson and the sign bearing nazis representing the GOP. Bush who was far more deserving was never heckled by a member of Congress and if such a thing did happen they should be censured. The Office of the President of the United States is like the Flag and you do not spit on the flag... Do you?!

ArlingVA Wrote the following:
What about the disrespect continuously showed to President Bush during his term? Repeatedly challenged as an "illegitimate" president who stole an election, interrupted by protesters at both inaugurations and multiple State of the Unions and other speeches -- treatment equally contemptuous to what Obama received. That doesn't make it right, of course, but demonstrates that the present opposition is treating Obama with the same disdain as the previous opposition showed his predecessor. This is unfortunate, but it is certainly not racist.

Posted by: ArlingVA

Posted by: rcc_2000 | September 10, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

The most salient point Obama made last night about his Republican critics who are fighting the good fight against creeping "socialism" is that their party made the same play on paranoia about socialism when they opposed Social Security in the 1930s and Medicare in the 1960s. So far they've succeeded in holding back health care reform (Kristol must still be patting himself on the back for his successes in the 1990s), but that time is just about over. Whether Wilson was racist is beside the point. He and his confreres are about to start to lose another battle against "socialism." They know it, the healthcare lobbyists know it. At least the lobbysists are taking fall back positions to defend what their profits will look like in the future. As for the Republican ideologues, well, they are about to suffer from the future being the present. You can appreciate their anguish.

Posted by: gratianus | September 10, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for your post. It seems obvious (to this white woman) that a lot of the opposition to Obama is race-based. I hope the Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot with the majority of Americans, because their behavior seems, to me, to be shameful.

Posted by: KathleenK1 | September 10, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

you'll never hear the N word in black neighborhoods either, right? oh, but that's ok. what a bunch of idiot liberal buffoons.

Posted by: unojklhh1

Just because whites call other whites "white trailer trash" and red#@ck which is racist does not mean its OK for me or Al Sharpton to call you that does it?

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

jim000122 wrote:

The post needs UNBIASED journalists.

Sorry to disappoint you, Jimbo, but Mr. Cohen is a commentator, not a journalist, and thus is allow to express his opinion, not just facts. Perhaps you mistake the "journalists" Fox Noise with true journalists.

But to the point, I am not certain that I buy into the racism thing as to the reason that conservatives, especially southern conservatives are rabid about an Obama presidency.

I think it stems from frustration. Frustration that the playbook is no longer working; that many American's, yes even many southern Americans, are starting to realize that the republican party has lost its way and seems to lack the intelligence to deal with complicated problems in any manner other than name calling, demagoguery, deceit, or trickery.

The issues that face this country are deep and complicated. The problem is that, after years of purging the "intellectuals" from their ranks, the republicans have a very thin and weak bench.

Gone are the statesmen and women who, though partisan and headstrong, could approach issues with a sense of practical reality and intelligence that contributed to finding common ground in order to address the most pressing issue of the day.

Today, all we seem to get from the republicans are activist zealots who can only approach issues only their own narrow point of view, and cannot tolerate any information that might be contrary to their perceptions.

So the result is emotional outbursts, name calling, demagoguery, deceit, and trickery.

I guess you get what you pay for!

Posted by: dlpetersdc | September 10, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Of course it would never be the case that Obama and the Democrats continue to run roughshod over the Republican Party while light speed laws are passed with more pork than substance. They are able to do this because a blinded populous has bought hook line and sinker into a Socialist agenda presented as a liberal humanitarian platform. How frustrated each and every Congressman must feel even as they applauded with only half hearted enthusiasm. It really must be painful for them to know the truth as they watch as a radical usurper attempts to install the first grips of Communism into a once powerful country and the citizens are elated. A real shame indeed.

Posted by: longbow65 | September 10, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

unojklhh1 | September 10, 2009 4:15 PM

Thank you
And please keep up the hate and rant. Ask more of your gun-toting wimpy friends to show us how "patriotic" they are. It really helps our fund raising.

Posted by: hayden1 | September 10, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

unojklhh1

Seeing that we just came from the Bush era where as you could not attend his events if you had the wrong T-shirt on or bumper sticker on your car I think bringing guns to town hall meetings is an extreme 180 regarding the presidency.

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

GOP rude obnoxious and stupid? Yawn, that's dog bites man non-news. Re the gun toters. When the President is present at a rally where guns are brought, I hope that the Secret Service snipers are lighting them up with laser dots on their chests and foreheads, with hair triggers ready to put them in the ground if they make a move towards that gun.

Posted by: dolph924 | September 10, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Just so I'm clear: According to Mr. Cohen, I'm a birther and a racist if I oppose President Obama's health care plan. Okay, got it. I feel so much better now.

Dear God, Mr. Cohen has been having three-martini lunches (likely more) with the New York Times Paul Krugman lately, hasn't he?

Posted by: fesstwo | September 10, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

So basically anyone who questions, criticizes or disagrees with the this generations "messiah" is a racist?

I think ya'll have elevated that man to such a level the only place he can go is down at this point

Posted by: BriarSh | September 10, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

longbow65

I like checks and balances. But republicans need to come up with ideas to make health care reform work not just a lot of drama to distract from the issue. If shouting down everyone who does not agree with you is the new republican way of getting things done what does that say about the party?

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

any half way intelligent person can conclude that a great deal of the resistance to President Obama's agenda is based on latent racism.

The most obvious manifestation of this attitude was in an early town hall when an enraged "birther" waved her birth certificate and the American flag while shouting "I want my country back," an obvious and not so veiled reference to the emegence of minorities both in the electorate and in office and the inability of far too many older white voters to accept that reality.

Check out the first line of defense against Obama and his insidious attempt to convert America to socialism and Islam. It is almost directly in line with the Mason Dixon line and the long suffering states of the Old South where blacks still are considered second class citizens by many. Coincidence? I think not.

Obama's opponents use a lot o code words but they all add up to "who is this uppity ------
and what does he think he is doing!"

America has come a long way since the 60s but we aren't home yet.
Does anyone think that the fact Congressman Joe Wilson served on the late Senator Strom Thurmond's staff might have shaped his views on race and public policy?

Posted by: bobfbell | September 10, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

if you want to know why this is such a passionate debate? Follow the money. Most of the people against the public option are backed by the private health care industry. If they want to continue getting dollars from their consistency they must protect their interest. Who are Joe Wilson's biggest contributors.

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA Loves A.C.O.R.N.!?!?!?! Gave ACORN Billions of Dollars, wants ACORN to be apart of the 2010 U.S. Census?!?! (NOTE: You may have to Copy & Paste the Links into your browser as the Post Does NOT allow Active Links in Comments on all Articles) WATCH THESE VIDEOS!!! PART I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtTnizEnC1U PART II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNYU9PamIZk

Posted by: Suffer | September 10, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

"OldAtlantic

You rejected blacks at every other aspect when they were trying to be the first black to do something. But somehow its different when its the highest office in the land."

??

" Its the left wing racist comspiracy against anyone who is against Obama. "

Agreed.

"Ask yourself this, if Obama was not black would race ever be an issue?"

Obama's whole life is anti-white racism.

"Would their be birthers, "

Yes. McCain disclosed all his documents to the senate.

"would he be accused of not being smart enough to be president by some and too smart and slick to be president by others?"

Many presidents have been accused of that.

"Would he be met with soo much hostility regarding a piece of legislation as helpful as healthcare reform? "

Teddy Kennedy was. Its hurtful not helpful. The same money divided by more people means less care for those who have it now, that is hurtful not helpful.

"You would think Obama was trying to get a declaration for war the way he is met with anger. "

The antiwar group think exactly that.

"I can remember George Bush going around the country trying to convince everyone that we should take our social security treasury and invest it in the private markets. Remember that? Did he get half the anger and hostility as Obama does? "

Dems booed and hissed him. The hate for Bush was like a hard cheese from the Left.

"This was after he invaded Iraq and screwed up during Katrina and we already questioned his judgment. But he did not have all of this hostility, There were no angry mobs shouting him down. "

Cindy Sheehan and other protests.

"The same anger that we witnessed at campaign rallys for Palin. "

Dems launched hate attacks on Palin that are still going. Obama called her a pig and he intentionally attacked her in the speech. That is part of what provoked Joe Wilson, another cowardly attack by Obama.

"Are you going to say some of those people were not racist?"

Some of those who attacked Palin were not racist, I agree. But she was attacked for being a white woman who had more than one baby, that was racist.

Its Obama who is racist. His whole plan is to take from the white and give to the non-white. That is why he nominated Sotomayor and said the white cop was stupid.

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 4:52 PM |

Posted by: OldAtlantic | September 10, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I LOATHE it when people play the race card because it dilutes the power of a genuine charge of racism. In this case, though, I have to agree with Mr. Cohen that much - though not all - of this near-rabid rage is a result of repressed racism. The key word - repressed - is manifesting in the kind of loss of control Wilson displayed and in the ludicrous accusations that our president is too dangerous a man to talk to American children about the importance of staying in school.

It is fine to disagree with a president - in fact, it's patriotic to express that disagreement, especially when it's NOT politically expedient. But you don't interrupt a speech to shout "You lie!" at our democratically elected leader. The opposition is always allowed a chance to rebut - and it can be done as passionately as the dissenter wishes. Raging at our president while he is speaking to the nation is simply unacceptable. There is no excuse for it, no matter what you think of the president.

It seems to me that Republican conservatives, in their fear and hatemongering tactics, underestimate the collective American intelligence, while Democrats overestimate it. Unfortunately, it often seems like the Republicans are closer to the mark, especially with segments of our society that are ready and willing to hate.

Posted by: JamieRoberts | September 10, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

The republicans are desperate. They know if Obama passes a healthcare reform bill that actually works they are doomed for the next 7 and a half years. Obama must fail for them to succeed and believe me if they thought the public option was anything but a winner for Obama they would welcome it. You can always tell when the democrats are right policy wise is when the republicans are against it. They cant afford a successful Obama tenure politically. Its a shame when one party has to depend on the others total demise in order for them to shine. It took bush's total ineptitude for us to vote for a black democrat. Now they are hoping for the same failure from Obama. But the difference is bush did it to himself. We supported his failed policies. He passed a healthcare bill, tort reform. He got just about everything he wanted from congress. It was proven to be ineffective policy. In Obama's case they dont want him to pass any legislation of any kind. They want him to fail based on them denying him instead of allowing his policies to prove themselves as good or bad. Give Obama the same opportunity you gave bush. You trusted an inexperienced ex druggie, ex alcoholic, lifelong underachiever with average at best intellect white guy to shape policy in this country but an overachieving, clear thinking above average intelligence black guy just cant be trusted to lead. Just look at the two and tell me what is the obvious difference between them. Look at the state of our country. What the hell is Obama going to do to our country worse than what Bush and people before him has already done? I am sorry folks healthcare reform is not going to be the thing that dooms our country. We can start a war with a country based on lies, get bogged down in it for years but we think some healthcare legislation is going to be what hurts us more? Take us into socialism, communism, marxism? One man, Obama has that much power? Could have fooled me.

Posted by: ged0386 | September 10, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA Loves A.C.O.R.N.!?!?!?! Gave ACORN Billions of Dollars, wants ACORN to be apart of the 2010 U.S. Census?!?! (NOTE: You may have to Copy & Paste the Links into your browser as the Post Does NOT allow Active Links in Comments on all Articles) WATCH THESE VIDEOS!!! PART I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtTnizEnC1U PART II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNYU9PamIZk

FOX NEWS is the only Network Covering this Story! http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,548827,00.html?test=latestnews (For More Information you can GOOGLE for "ACORN PROSTITUTE")

Posted by: Suffer | September 10, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

The hostility from the Right towards Obama was in fact palpable during last night's speech. You could literally see it oozing and steaming out of McCain, Hatch and others. Not just in the disrespectful comments of Wilson. The Senator should have apologized not only to the POTUS but also, to his parents, his wife, his children, his constituents and his peers. In truth, he disrespected himself and those he represents much more so than the president. Do I think that there are racial connotations thinly veiled in this discourteous discourse? Without a doubt. However, we all knew that there would be going in to this, so surely Mr. Obama was aware. He wanted to go first, to blaze that trail. This is all a part of breaking down those doors. Good luck to you Mr. President. Thank you for bravely going first.

Posted by: JADE1876 | September 10, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Racism in our Congress? Our Congress? Goodness gracious. Why loose the fowl of fancy to flutter among such morbid trees of speculation? Oh right, it gets clicks.

Obviously Republicans are going to make each and every administration opponent feel welcome, regardless of motive, be it however base or ridiculous. Why look any of these gift horses in the mouth? Isn't that a bit much to ask of any politician? If you want to make Republicans blush, just wait until next they're caught tapdancing in a mens room stall, you might have half a chance. But only half. Accusations of racism are useless. After all, did you really think the racism went our of Congress when they carried Strom Thurmond out of the Senate on their shoulders?

This thing about illegals is ridiculous. Of course they're not included, meaning they're not going to be required to have health insurance, and they won't be able to receive assistance for it either. This doesn't mean they aren't going to get medical treatment, or that the rest of us won't wind up paying for it as we do now: through higher prices from our providers. The rest of us would be better off if illegal immigrants *were* included.

Posted by: fzdybel | September 10, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

CONDUCT BY WILSON FROM SOUTH CAROLINA

Bigotry in South Carolina is NOTHING new. Corruption by public officials from South Carolina is NOTHING new (i.e. Sanford).

Corruption in the U.S. House is NOTHING new.

What IS new is the wanton practice by REPUBLICANS to VIOLATE HOUSE RULES. Anyone who has been elected to, or has worked in, the U.S. House and/or Senate knows that what Cong. Joe Wilson did last night by screaming "You Lie" while the GUEST in the House Chamber was the President of OUR UNITED STATES is a Major VIOLATION of those House Rules.

The citizens of South Carolina can determine for themselves IF they want someone in a "decision-making" campacity to represent them, IF he cannot control himself while listening to a "speech" from a "Black President!"

But the HOUSE Leadership must NOT allow Wilson to be present ON the House Floor ever again while a President is making his presentation to the other respectful and rule-abiding Members.

Joe Wilson is the personification of what is WRONG in the Republican Party. But, he exhibits ALL of the HATEFUL traits that the Republican Party and its members have become as a Party.

The House Leadership, including the Republican Minority must requuire Wilson to RESIGN from the U.S. House.

Clearly, those of us citizens in the United States do NOT want anyone in a decision-making capacity who is so OUT OF CONTROL as Wilson demonstrated last night.

South Carolinians now have TWO officials, a Governor and a Congressman, who have smeared, and lowered even further, that state's continued poor reputation. It is UP to the citizens there to repair THAT damage to them and to this nation by their votes in November, 2010.

Wilson not only owed his apology to the President, but to the citizens of this nation. To accept that "apology" (if it ever occurs), citizens would have to first require accept Wilson's RESIGNATION from the Congress.

Joe Wilson's misconduct is NOT representative of the citizens of this nation.

Joe Wilson is UNFIT for public service. His resignation from the U.S. House IS required.

Posted by: gglenc | September 10, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

If anyone wants to know how these republicans think, just ask them what they think about a Glen Beck, Sara Palin ticket for president in the next election!Probably 90% would be estatic at the idea. If that doesn't scare you to death nothing will!! This is where they want to take our country , they would love to dumb it down with Dumb and Dumber!!

Posted by: Donna3 | September 10, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I couldn't get through the first 5-8 comments before I began getting very angry that people commenting are in such a blatant denial of history. The fact remains that during an official speech before Congress, no sitting president in the recent past has been so utterly disrepected. I will state for clarities, sake, that I am black and maybe this is why I see this outburst for what is it....racism! This man and many, many other white men cannot and will not accept the fact that they have to respect and defer to a black man who is now the president of the United States. Let's not pretend for one second that the anger and disdain that was reflected on this man's face was based solely on the health care debate. Come on! His actions displayed the typical "come on boy" attitude displayed by white bigots in the south.

We are in deep trouble if you angry, bitter republicans can't get over the fact that you lost the election and move on. I heard/went to an event where Michael Steele was the featured speaker here in my city over a month or so ago. He shared a story of when he was first becoming involved with his party, he went to a republican event or fundraiser of some sort and was basically ignored by everyone in the room except for Elizabeth Dole. Here is a man that (theoretically) shares the same values and morals with individuals but he was treated like a second class citizen because of his skin color. So don't tell me this has nothing to do with race and this is the race card being played. People's true colors come out in the heat of the moment and the SC congressman has shown his true colors to me...and I think all of us who are not in denial.

Posted by: niccla | September 10, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Oh please. It's always "racism" with guys like Cohen, unless someone like Clarence Thomas is on the receiving end of boorish behavior or scurrilous talk. Cohen and other liberals bandy the term about so freely that it has lost whatever sting it may once have had.

Posted by: TArbiter | September 10, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

ged0386:

I can only speculate but my guess if the Republicans members are still Republicans and not some quasi-Socialist Democrats, they really care nothing about a government run socialist plan forced on their constituency and called a health care reform measure. That would just be my guess. What do you think?

Posted by: longbow65 | September 10, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Are Democrats the only people in America not to realize that Barack Obama is colored? What's a colored man doing in the White House? and he's not even an American. The country is going to ell in a handbasket.

Posted by: m_richert | September 10, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Not long ago, pols on either side would at least show respect for the OFFICE of the Presidency, if not for the man himself. And yes, even Democrats from 2001-2009 did this. Democrats did boo Dubya Bush at some State of the Union addresses, but how do you think Republicans treated Clinton??

J. Wilson's actions demonstrated the sense that not even the stature of the office is enough to show due deference to the current President. So what makes Barack Obama different from every President from George Washington to George W. Bush? What makes him the only President who can be treated worse than a British PM in Parliament? What is it about Obama that isn't shared by any of the 43 others? Hint: it's not his place of birth or even his political agenda.

Posted by: roedel74 | September 10, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

This is what we get when we have a party that calls America's democratic government "The problem."

The GOP is the party that essentially wishes the South had won the war, the Union had been ended, and slavery and other "state's rights issues" were left to the states.

Repression of voting is something the GOP pushes with allegations of fraud that are never proven because they simply don't exist.

Cuts in taxation are praised even though they leave insufficient funds to maintain necessary services from education to bridges to pension funds for state workers to jails to courts and on and on.

Privatization of public service is promoted even though failures of corporate effectiveness and higher costs are generally the results.

The GOP is no longer the party that wants effective government. It's the party that wants no government at all - a libertarian dream that is a utopian fantasy.

No wonder they elect people like Joe Wilson who get so worked up they can't contain the bile they harbor for those in opposition. No wonder the GOP talks of compromise but expects the majority to capitulate.

Is there racism involved in the anger and hate aimed at this president? Of course. Racism toward black Americans has too much of a history not to be a factor. Whether or not that is part of Representative Wilson's persona is apparently part of the public record. Perhaps now the voters will hold him responsible for it. But I won't be holding my breath.

Posted by: kcbob | September 10, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Groty1 wrote:
97% of all black voters voted for Obama. I wonder how many of them would have voted for Obama if he were white? Can you imagine a white candidate ever getting 97% of all white votes? I can't. And you can't either.
---------------------------------
Actually, 100% of whites voted for a white candidate in every presidential election since there was never a black candidate before. A better question would be how can so many whites vote for John McCain when those same whites called him a RINO and didn't agree with any of his policies. Did they even bother to consider the other candidate?

I don't know if Joe Wilson is a racist but the republican party has become a racist party. There have been plenty of examples: the curious george dolls, the food stamps, the Barak the Magic Negro song, the "he's a muslim" comments, and on and on and on. It's been an incredibly sad transformation.

This country has changed. The racial dynamic has changed significantly and the Grand Ole Party has not changed with it. They refuse to change with it.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | September 10, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe I am reading this garbage in the Post. The health care subject is a very divisive one and both sides have their reasons to support or oppose it. And they express their STRONG FEELINGS. Why add the race card to the mix?

Posted by: Greg_Rogozinski | September 10, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Of course there is racism in the House chambers, just as there is plenty of racism in America. The source is the RepubliKLAN Party and their white power foot soldiers. Strutting Nazis in their little tea bag parades. Truly pathetic.

Posted by: ElectricBill | September 10, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

ged0386

Thanks so much for reading my post.

Had I been at Berkely last winter I would likely have gone to listen to Van Jones because I share some common thoughts with him. However, I would have been called an a** hole.

I do share some thoughts with Obama. Its usually the "how to get from here to there" that bothers me about the man. I guess I just like to think independently. And of course we differ significantly on some issues.

He did get a "stimulus" passed. Not good yet. He did prevent GM from going down the cammode completely, but the jury is still out on that.

Posted by: hipshot | September 10, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

niccla:

The Republicans seemed very reserve until the President started making biting remarks attacking the credibility of those that vehemently disagree with his radical socialist proposals, attempts to circumvent the checks and balances and his general Marxist/ Communist agenda. You will be pleased to know I do not care what color you are and I did not like the Centrist Bill Clinton any more or less than your Communist Barry Obama. What is worse, I voted for George Bush but have just about decided that he acted more like a liberal Democrat than a moderate Republican so that may explain the state of the country’s economy when he left office. He fixed nothing that Bill Clinton started screwed up and even broadened the problems. It just ran it's course to ruin.

Posted by: longbow65 | September 10, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Racism? Maybe, but I doubt it.

Indicator of the profound failure of our educational system, resulting in voters electing representatives like themselves -- uninformed idiots? More likely.

Stupidity in American politics is nothing new, nor is personal vitriol. My generation was no kinder to Johnson and and Nixon. In that era, however, Congress tended to maintain somewhat better decorum - but not by much.

Perhaps it's time for a return to the days of dueling?

Posted by: fr3dmars | September 10, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Gee, nashvillemykl, sounds rough down there. But have u visited a black neighborhood in any city in the country? You will hear plenty of homophobic, asian-phobic, anti-semetic, foul illiterate language there.

It's fun to generalize, isnt it? At least southerners dont require a 15point handicapp on their SATs to get into college. I'm from NYC by the way.

Posted by: williamporterfield | September 10, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse
------------------------------
I don't know williamporterfield. I'm pretty sure that the white southerners would need that 15 point handicap. SATs scores in rural, poor neighborhoods are the same regardless of color.

Just because you're from NY doesn't mean you are a racist. Judging by your post, clearly you are.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | September 10, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

This article hit the nail on the head people like Rep.Wilson Glen Beck and their likes are having a hard time accepting a black man as leader of the free world. Barack Obama is as qualify or ever better qualify than most ex-presidents but you will not know that by listening to fox. and other people like them.

Posted by: annmariemc | September 10, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I don't really know why I am commenting because it always seems as if people bring their opinions to these things and their minds are not open to even consideration of any points that do not fit comfortably within their world view. That said...

I think the point of the article is not to do something ridiculously reductionist, like play the race card, but simply to raise a question. Given the history of decorum showed in settings like the one last night, in addition to the disproportionate vitriol aimed at President Obama during this debate: could it be something deeper than simply charged political debate? I must say in my lifetime, I have never seen the level of public disrespect of a president by individuals who are part of the government. Yes, I am considering the great anger toward Bush expressed by liberals. However, that expression of disapproval never seemed to rise to the level of disrespect among congressmen and other politicians.

In my mind something is different. Whether that is deep-seated disregard for our president due to his race or a rapid devolution of civility in the US, I'm not sure.

Posted by: wilsonmg_2000 | September 10, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

wmwilliams14 wrote:
This country has changed. The racial dynamic has changed significantly and the Grand Ole Party has not changed with it. They refuse to change with it.
==============================

Your party's attempt to change this country into something is was never destined for may be the problem. The first Americans came here to get away from the confines and influence of Europe only to be reintroduced to the Communist/ Socialism it now has to offer. If there is anger and resentment in this country, it is being fomented by the radical attempts of the Democratic Party to force a change for the worse down the throats of the citizens that do not want it. If you think the racial dynamics have changed for the better since the 50 year experiment began, you are not reading the papers. Things are worse now than ever and at a boiling point.

Posted by: longbow65 | September 10, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

We need more like Joe Wilson. Yes, his emotion got the upper hand for a moment. But it was for the profaning of the truth by a cynical president who manipulates words and symbols without caring what the truth is, just what it will get for him.

That is how he became president when he doesn't satisfy the Natural Born Citizen requirement. That is why you can't say what hospital he was born at or what doctor signed his birth certificate or whether his application materials for college claim he is a dual citizen.

Posted by: OldAtlantic | September 10, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Cohen is right, the vitriol directed toward Obama is disproportionate to the issue -- health care. And last week it was because he was going to speak to school children. The type of outrage Republicans are displaying at the president is usually reserved for matters of war. Bush did generate extreme disdain and maybe hatred from some on the left, but it sure as hell wasn't after 7-8 months into his first term. Something entirely else is at play here and it very well could be racism. Just as Europe has a long history of anti-Semitism, this country has a long history of bigotry toward people of color. It doesn't go away just because some pundits are calling us "post-racial."

Posted by: creatia52 | September 10, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Wilson's outburst was inappropriate and uncivil, and he deserves all the opprobrium that is being heaped upon him. Your remarks, Mr. Cohen, are just as inappropriate and insulting.

You are race-baiting, and the damage done to our country by reflexive cries of racism is enormous. The more such claims are put forward, the more they will become a self-fulfilling prophecy-- tired and alienated independent and moderate whites breaking to the Republican Party, while the Democrats become the party of non-whites and, to a lesser extent, very liberal whites.

Such racial division would be a catastrophe for our country; but we are well on our way toward it.

It is possible to be opposed to the President without being racist, Mr. Cohen. It is even possible to be a complete idiot and jerk like Wilson without being racist.

Please think about it before you pen something so needless and divisive again. Please.

Posted by: gadstian | September 10, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

My first impulse on seeing this headline was that Cohen was assuming something he shouldn't. But then I think about it, and Wilson *was* the protege of the most racist politician in the last half century of American politics (with possible apologies to Jesse Helms), Strom Thurmond.

I would say that it's at least very likely that constant marinading in his consituency during August - with SC being perhaps the most racist state in the union - sort of primed Wilson to feel comfy in denying Obama the respect every other recent American president has received in Congress. After all, back home in Charleston all the boys on the porch call him names. Just going with the flow and forgot he was in DC?

And while I agree that one shouldn't dismiss every disagreement with Obama as racism, I *do* think that a fair bit of heated discontent toward him is channeled racism. We're in tough times and lots of heady legislation is being argued, but some of the dehumanizing characterizations of Obama on these very comment pages is *way* over the top.

And I think the birther stuff is almost all racist in origin. It's not socially acceptable to call him the N-word, so they have to do the next best thing to call him some kind of "other". He's "foreign". He's NOT. LIKE. US. It's pretty transparent, no?

Posted by: B2O2 | September 10, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

That is exactly what went through my mind. He can disagree with the president and he can call him any name under the sun outside this setting. But the only reason for Joe Wilson allowing himself to be so disrespectul to the president during his speech to the congress can't be anything but racism. And no, I am not an African/American.

Posted by: Sally6 | September 10, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Now the hateful republicans are desperate enough to say and do evil things without the cover of sheets and darkness KKK dress. They will let this country burn before they allow a black man, who is the elected President, to lead this country back to a form of greatness. Wilson feed his hateful base, words can not be retracted or erased. The based was recharged to stay in their same ignorant mindset and continue their same ignorant rantings.

Posted by: Vonnie932 | September 10, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

sigh - here we go again...the racist card. You supposed journalists need to join those 4000+ blood sucking lobbyists in finding a real meaningful job.

The Dems did it, the Repubs have done it - get over it. I cannot stand the policies of President Obama does that make me a racist? No, it makes me a person living in the US who has free choice. And if someone decides to call Pres. Obama a liar then that does not make him racist either.

Oh but does cutting a back door deal with the Big Pharma companies make Obama a racist against the middle class working Americans who have to support his wealth redistribution schemes? If Wilson is a racist than so is Obama.

Posted by: zendrell | September 10, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

In that case I guess it's OK to call you a slimey zionist frontman because you and your ilk have been concerned that a Black man might not unquestionably do Jizzrael's dirty work anymore, that perhaps there's no Lewinsky pigs that could lure him into a blackmail scenario or family fortune to be threatened.

Seems the most rabid liars and hysterical contortionists of truth are either Southern white crackers or zionist lackies.

Almost as strange bedfellows as the zionist neocons who jumped in bed with Bush, grandson of a nazi banker and blended good ol' Texas oil gluttony with paranoid tribal concerns about Iraq, who had nothing to do with 9/11.

Posted by: mot2win | September 10, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

republicans today are trying to excuse Wilson for his inexcusable behavior.
It is so sad to see that the party of Lincoln, TR, Eisenhower and Reagan have become little more then a bunch of thugs and frat boys determined to show their crudeness and hate and ignorance.
What will become of a society that no longer has the will to show decorum, class or civility?
It is so important that our press as the 4th estate not just comment sometimes and play everything in a phoney 'balance, he said/she said' senario. It is time for them to begin to censure the rude behavior instead of giggling over the shiny object that the antics of our immature GOP displays.

Posted by: vwcat | September 10, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Spare us the hypocrisy. There is plenty of bad behavior on both sides of the aisle and only utter idiots really believe that one side is better than the other.

Posted by: bobmoses | September 10, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Cohen is the real racist in this affair. I am sick and tired of liberals and minorities crying "racism" or "anti-semitism" everytime a white male criticizes them. I am a white male, and I think I still have a constitutional right to speak freely, which includes criticizing those in power if I think it is warranted, no matter what their gender or skin color. Here are the facts: Obama is half-black, half-white, sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but if every time he speaks we must muzzle all criticism, it means we are now a totalitarian state, not a free country. Joe Wilson was inexcusably rude to the President, even if he was right in asserting that Obama was glossing over the lack of enforcement to prevent illegal aliens from submitting applications for subsidized insurance. Right now, the Senate is correcting this loophole in the House bills -- something that would not have happened if Wilson had not spoken out. Did Obama know the loophole existed, and was he deliberately distorting the truth, e.g. lying? Who knows for sure? But one thing is certain. As soon as the ink dries on a health care reform bill, Obama plans immigration reform and legal status for 12 million illegal aliens -- all of whom will then be made eligible for the federal health care subsidies, subject to income limits. So the point of whether or not the health legislation entitles illegal aliens to subsidized insurance is somewhat moot -- as soon as Obama legalizes them, they'll be able to participate. Why don't you write about that, Mr. Cohen?

Posted by: JohnRobertsFreeingTibet | September 10, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Race card.
The ultimate excuse for incompetence.
Call who question the race card, racists.
Hide incompetence with a racism excuse.
Race card.

We are Post-racial folks, with the Big "O".
You can't get away with this free pass forever. Yeah, right.
Remember, criticizing Obama on his political agenda is racism...don't do it!

Posted by: 65apr | September 10, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

All that was missing on the Republican side of the isle at the joint session of Congress last night was pitchforks, torches and white robes. They had the signs, the hate, the intent and the lone angrier-than-thou white man to incite the millions of people watching on national television. This was all done to gin up the crowds for the tea party coming to Washington on the 12th.

Posted by: mawheelz | September 10, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Cohen for dividing us into two angry groups: all of those who support Obama and are good, clean, pure, honest and always right; and those who oppose Obama and are evil, backwards and racists. It does give you a simple and easy to comprehended view of America and it explains very clearly why free speech and dissent are only virtues when practiced by Democrats.

Posted by: droberts57 | September 10, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

for the fools keep yelling about "bush was heckled and blah blah blah..he was never heckled while addressing the country or congress, he was heckled when his sorry ass gave a 1st grade speech on why we need to go to iraq. the only reason why ppl are hating is because he's black. tell ur klansmen congressman (boehner) and the rest of his coherts that the game is over. take ur racist politics back to europe. this is a diverse country and the sorry-ass clowns who spit hate are as worthless as the republicans health care bill...

Posted by: pwmackieee | September 10, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm continuously amazed by the rabid, mindless drivel coming from the right. It's sad.

Posted by: davew175 | September 10, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Oh I'm sorry Cohen,,,
I thought this was a follow up story to that racist Van Jones "that you never wrote about"

There's nothing here

Posted by: dashriprock | September 10, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Cohen, this is really dreadful writing. You look like a hack writing for a high school newspaper and a second-rate thinker when you call everybody on the other side racists. Wow, grow up.

You threw in the tidbit on MacBird just because you want to make it look like you put some thought into this. But you didn't.

Posted by: HookInMouth | September 10, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Actually, longbow. I think the country has changed for the better in the last 50 years. Perhaps, you long for the days of whites only water fountains and back of the bus rides.

If this country has deteriorated you can think Reagan and his trickle down economic theories. It turned this country into a ME first mentality. Where excessive greed is rewarding and the middle class bare the brunt of all the rest of society. So now, you have senior citizens protesting government run health care when they have the benefits of-government run health care.

Again, I say the country is changing. So you can get on board or just get out of the way.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | September 10, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

After 8 years of imploding the world economy, adding $5 trillion to the national debt, bungling an unnecessary and expensive war in Iraq, cutting taxes on the very rich at the expense of the poor and middle class, and doing nothing about the rapidly increasing cost and reduced availability of health care coverage for average Americans, Republicans have been repudiated by voters across the nation.

Their response, incredibly, has been to embrace the angry, paranoid fringes of the right, attack Obama at every turn, and offer no constructive solutions of their own. Prevarication is their number one weapon. The shameful and childish performance of Republican members of Congress last night during a Presidential address to the nation is simply one more escalation in the war on Obama. Was it racially motivated? Well, not entirely, but the disrespect, without precedent, accorded to our first African-American president certainly raises the question. A year ago, Republicans would have called this sort of conduct un-American. A few years ago, any criticism of the president was un-American in the eyes of the right wing. Now, not so much.

Posted by: schankler | September 10, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

For all my fellow liberals who wonder how much more "pathetic" the GOP will/can become... Assuming their leadership continues to kowtow to the basest of their base, they will become "pathetic" enough to don brown shirts. Such "pathetic" uniforms and accessories can be found not too far back in the same ultra-nationalists wardrobe, where swastikas, dixie flags, iron crosses, and white cone hats are all too common.

Perhaps its true that not all hatred of Obama is informed by racism, but much of the hatred is. Obama is not even a liberal Democrat, let alone a Marxist. If you idiots knew the first thing about liberalism OR Marxism, you'd be able to recognize that fact. Obama is a centrist pragmatist Democrat, much like Clinton.

It is precisely BECAUSE he's not a left-wing ideologue (like Dennis Kucinich, for example) that right-wing nuts and media crazies are all abuzz with conspiracy theories... These narrow-minded individuals have created a false binary whereby there are only Democrats and Republicans and in the minds of these numbskulls, each represent a "pure" ideology.

Since, in this way of thinking, Obama must represent the most extreme or "pure" form of thinking on the left of the aisle (which would ostensibly be "Marxism" in the mind of the right wing nut, even though that isn't necessarily/nearly true), since he doesn't seem to visibly/audibly support true Marxist ideas, he is therefore a "liar" or "wolf in sheep's clothing".

Nothing could be further from the truth. Obama, judged by his ACTIONS, not his words, has shown himself to be a very centrist leader with relatively conservative fiscal policy -- no less conservative than Reagan, Clinton, Bush Sr., or Bush Jr. All of these men were products of the same elite school system that indoctrinated each of them with the fundamentals of the English law (aka "common law") system. They are ALL believers of the same fundamental beliefs as outlined by the framers.

It is incumbent upon all of us to realize that Health Care (be it Single Payer Universal or 100% free-market capitalist free-for-all) is NOT a Constitutional or ideological issue. It is an issue of how we can more effectively keep ourselves and our nation healthy, happy, and productive. The richest, most productive countries are also the healthiest -- why can't we be as wealthy and productive as they are?

Let's can the recriminations and accusations of "lying" no one is lying. We're just trying to have an honest debate so as to come up with the best solution -- the one that benefits each individual and the nation as a whole.

Thank you, and goodnight.

Posted by: ari3 | September 10, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I loved your piece.

Posted by: dave63 | September 10, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Dumb column. Major "journalist" FAIL.

Posted by: georgemfwashington | September 10, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Folks, watch a clip of Obama's speech again. Obama had just gotten finished looking at the republican side of the aisle and calling them liars not ten seconds before the outburst referred to by Cohen. The outburst may have been in bad taste, but it certainly wasn't unprovoked.

Posted by: tacheronb | September 10, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

The president didn't call them liars. He said that the statements about death panels were lies. Big difference and you know it.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | September 10, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

"Isn't that correct you right-wing "I love to spank my girlfriend" perverts?"

*somebody* is jealous!

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | September 10, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet a crate of apples that the more these gun-toting idiots show up where the President speaks, these same jerks are going to flip-out and start shooting unarmed people on the other side. With all the people dead the rightwing will hail the shooter as a "patriot".

Posted by: hayden1 | September 10, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I really didn't want to read racism in Joe Wilson's outburst until I saw his face in the morning paper. I haven't seen a face so twisted in hate since the desegregation riots of the sixties. Mr. Cohen, I believe, got this one right.

Posted by: slim2 | September 10, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Hey angry white guys; what are you going to do when the Latinos outnumber all of us? Their culture will stifle you and take over. Wake up people, racism is alive and Mr. Cohen is right. There is a suppressed anger towards the president. The reason is because of the color of his skin. As a black man, I pray that we can get pass this. Racism is our ugly past and I've experienced it often. Just remember, the name calling will not stop the president from being great. He will succeed! Don't you see that God has His hand in this? The more opposition you show against the President, the stronger he will become. You are all doing him a favor. You are doing African Americans a favor. President Obama is an example of class and brilliance. Guess what, he's inspiring minorities and the more the young people follow his example (staying above the fray) the better we (minorities) will become and rise. So keep it up. I'm in awe of how the President conducts himself. Thanks for your ignorance. Thanks for not hiding who you are any longer...

Posted by: Revolution95 | September 10, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Richard, you should be the first to advocate speaking truth to power!

Posted by: MikeMcLamara | September 10, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

You are the biggot Cohen. You say because people disagree with Obama that they are racist? I wonder how long we'll be hearing that?? The only thing you are doing is cultivating racism, not combating it. Quit bringing the race issue into this. Just because someone disagrees with the President doesn't mean they are a bigot! Shame on you.

Posted by: luvtheskins428 | September 10, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Objection to health care reform is not racism.

But being disrespectful toward President Obama may well be. As almost all recognized that the current health care bill does not cover illegal immigrants, and one representative shouts out "you lie", it at least has the appearance of racism even if we cannot prove his motive. When the fringes on the right constantly repeat that Obama was not born a US citizen, I think it is fair to conclude that is racism.

As for the "death panel" business pushed by the likes of Palin, I don't know if it is racism because I am not sure Palin knew the real meaning of what she says even though she "reads all of them" newspapers.

Posted by: steviana | September 10, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

The real racists are those journalists who have access to Obama and the Administration but cannot even give him enough respect to think he is intelligent enough to be seriously challenged. Instead, such insincere journalists keep repeating subtle cues suggesting how "intelligent" Obama is because they are too racist to challenge Obama due to his self-selected identity.

Posted by: raym39 | September 10, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

The outrageous display from the republican party was racism at work. And a disgrace to the American people. We did not deserve that!

What a bunch of cowards just like my once racist friends who don't belong to any party and never vote but they send me the most vile hate email I am ashamed that I even knew people as this.

I was a republican and am white but Barack Obama is the most intelligent man I have ever seen as president in all my 48 years of voting but even more so he is a good man with good ideals and concerns for this country and the American people. He had my vote and he has my support.
Either the republicans get on board or keep falling on their sword.

Posted by: mac7 | September 10, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

This is the M.O. of the Obama administration - play the race card every time the going gets tough. The media is all too obliging to further the notion. Such behavior desensitizes the public to true incidents of racism. This time, the author of this article does the work. Mr. Cohen does a great disservice to the race relations movement by doing this. Frankly I'm SICK of hearing the race card being played every time someone differs with Obama.

No - what happened was NOT racism. It was moronic, petulant, elitist Republican arrogance. Never have I seen a president disrespected in such a manner. If anyone deserved disrespect, it was boy-George son-of-a-Bush. At least it took an Iraqi to do it with a shoe throw rather than Democratic petulance..and no doubt there's plenty of that as well. At least they didn't do it in an official meeting of Congress.

The whole bunch needs thrown out...but don't fret. The average American will continue to be duped by political misinformation- and keep putting these elitists back in office again and again. Of course, a little corporate backing doesn't hurt either.

Posted by: pcw5150 | September 10, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh, you think calling this a racists act is going to quiet us? Shut us up? keep us from critical remarks about Obama? Don't bet your toupee on it.

Posted by: karlee8008 | September 10, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

There were never any outburst when Bush gave a speech or public displays by senator or democrats of either party. Think they were sleeping anyway. But they are awake now--ya gotta love it!

Watching the true colors being shown is a small portion of ugly America. And it will get smaller.

Posted by: mac7 | September 10, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

The same state that fired the first shot in the Civil War, the same state that flies the Ku Klux Klan flag at their statehouse is the same state that makes the first heckle at any President of the United States of America. And that President is black.

Sure it's racist. It's also anti-American.

Anybody who says anything less is a boorish racist coward who is hiding under a white robe and mask in the middle of the night.

Republicans lack the courage to admit they are racists. Check between the legs -- nothing there.

Southern Republicans are cowards who hate America. It's time to hate them back.

Go ahead, Southerners, secede again. We love the memory of
General Sherman. This time we'll give him nuclear weapons and we'll win the next war the right way.

Short of that it's time to put heavy taxes on coon dogs, tobacco, NASCAR, trailer parks, confederate flag sales and wife beater t-shirts.

That's all the Republican Party has left any more. It's disgusting.

Posted by: colonelpanic | September 10, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

What's with Americans these days...particularly those on the right wing? Have you all gone crazy? Do you have any idea how you're appearing to the rest of us in the world? The way Obama was treated is a shining example of why the vast majority of non-Americans don't trust the United States any more. Your country seems to be inhabited by racists, gun nuts, right-wing extremists, and dangerous kooks.

Posted by: satman13 | September 10, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

To all those that scoff at the idea the heckling that the President received during his speech - this is racism. The vitrole, the incredible vicousness, the hysterical, outlandish lies perpetrated by the right wing that have dogged President Obama every step of the way can only be explained by the color of his skin. The elephant in the room, the coded words of politicians and talk show blow hards is, "Just look at him - he's not one of us. He's trying to hand the country over to all those dark skinned people - only they aren't thinking the word "dark skinned".

Posted by: ballouH2O | September 10, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't appear the bigotry was repressed much, does it?

Posted by: orange3 | September 10, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Cohen, thanks for being Truthful, however, the Right-Wing Fringe won't be satisfied until harm comes to our President. Maybe that's also a part of their repressed hate and bigotry towards blacks and other minorities. How may years of repressed hate is that... would you say? How about 45 years worth. Imagine that 45 years of repression, the repressed bigotry, hate, and racism has to be fuming with a poisonous foul stench and getting ready to boil over the sides of the pot.

Furthermore, who in the hell told these ignorant Right-Winger Extremists that certain parts of the U.S. Constitution and certain Amendments, such as Amendments 1 & 2 only apply to them, and only them, so that it benefits them on there ignorant terms.

Please don't make excuses and apologize for these backwoods Neanderthals. They will learn nothing from this incident, or any other incident past or future.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | September 10, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

I believe you are right, Mr.Cohen.
Racism is not a card to be played, it is an intransigent state of mind to be recognized and called out.
Thank you for doing that.

I have thought about this a great deal lately. And have come to much the same conclusion. I have asked myself repeatedly, "If President Obama were a white man, would this be happening?"
And I concluded that it would not be.
If this is racism, let's call it that and the old "race card" canard be damned.


Posted by: martymar123 | September 10, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Please don't bring the British Parliament into this. If a member calls anyone, Prime Minister included, a liar, he or she will be evicted until he or she apologizes immediately. And when the PM or whomever is attacked he or she can defend himself. Can you imagine Obama getting in a slanging match with a neanderthal who misrepresents the facts.
Gawd, grow up, folks.

Posted by: lewfournier1 | September 10, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

The whole racism thing has lost any sting it might have had because of people's indiscriminate use of the term. As it used to be said of patriotism, it's become the first refuge of scoundrels with no merit to their arguments. The equivalent of "yeah...? Well.... your mama". Stupid column.

Posted by: kencarroll22 | September 10, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

The Republican Party with the aid of Fox, and right wing radio is feeding catnip to rabid cats. It is terrifying to imagine where this may end.

The Republicans seem content to be the white racist party of the South.

Posted by: Billy1932 | September 10, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

A commenter earlier made this extremely important, factual, and insightful point. It deserves to be repeated:

"Why do people like Cohen keep calling him black, when he is just as much white as he is black, and his parenting was done by people who are 100% white? It is Cohen, and the disingenuous white liberal media, who are the true racists. Posted by: Groty1 September 10, 2009 1:59 PM"

It is time for the left to start discussing issues instead of calling everyone who critizes Obama "racist".

Obama is not "black".

Posted by: seebelow | September 10, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Great article, I was thinking along the same lines. Rabid is an understatement. For the GOP, they are representing a really, really ugly side of America. It's as if the ghosts of the Civil War are still out there or at least unleashed. It's driving the GOP nuts that attacking Obama is being called what it is; racially motivated. And your great point; that they aren't going to accept this 'new dancing black man' running 'their' country. They REALLY feel as if THEIR county has been taken away. For them, thank God for Health Care Reform. It's given them an outlet for the Obama Hatred. They can hate him all they want now and use Health Care for cover. I have many friends on that side and they all are on board with that way of thinking. The real reason for today's GOP, that of a collection agency for racial hatred dating back to the 60's, is coming home to roost. As I read somewhere, they're good at this stuff; they've been at it since 1865.

Posted by: ideabook | September 10, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Mr. Cohen for your insightful opinion piece. The disdain that many people on the right show for President Obama goes beyond simple policy disagreement. Along with the birthers and Senator Wilson's boorishness there was also the hysteria of President Obama welcome back to school speech. Racism is no longer socially acceptable but the racists still exist. Instead of them proudly proclaiming there racism now they accuse the objects of their racism of being the real racist's a la Glen Beck and all the posters on these pages who are accusing you of being the "true racist".
I guess it is some kind of progress when racists use the term racist to attack other people.

Posted by: exbrown | September 10, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

seebelow...there are millions of multiracial people in this country who are referred to as black, largely because that is how society recognizes them. I have to wonder the motive behind the insistence that this particular black man not be called black?

There is actually more latent racism in that than what Joe Wilson did.

Posted by: wilsonmg_2000 | September 10, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

"A commenter earlier made this extremely important, factual, and insightful point. It deserves to be repeated:

"Why do people like Cohen keep calling him black, when he is just as much white as he is black, and his parenting was done by people who are 100% white? It is Cohen, and the disingenuous white liberal media, who are the true racists. Posted by: Groty1 September 10, 2009 1:59 PM"

It is time for the left to start discussing issues instead of calling everyone who critizes Obama "racist".

Obama is not "black".

Posted by: seebelow"

It was not Mr. Cohen or liberal ideology that defined biracial people with a black and white parent as being "black". This construct goes back to the days of slavery when anyone with "one drop" of African heritage was considered as being black. Biracial people being defined as being black did not change once Barack Obama became president. To pretend otherwise is simply disingenuous especially coming from the right. Conservatives pretend to be colorblind when it is convenient for them to be.

Posted by: exbrown | September 10, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

I don't about you other readers, posters, and opinion writers, but I am getting sick and tired of these mini-explosions that occur from every spastic media hack out there when one side's idiot-for-the-day does or says something false, stupid, fascist, racist, sexist, righteous, etc? I mean aren't we tired of this trite back and forth that never changes the way people think or feel or understand how the world works and how weak most of us are? Believe it or not most people get angry, frustrated, scared, and even paranoid when stressed out about things they don't fully understand. May I suggest to all of us who waste our time getting all fired up about stupid stuff, which usually goes away after a week or so, to start taking the time and energy to fully understand the challenges that the White House, the Congress, the States, the large cities, communities, and normal people have to face here and now to save our economy and our quality of life for the next 50 to 100 years. It's time for us to put our toys down and leave the recess area and get back to being adults and working for our families/communities and solving problems and maybe even being friends. I am tired of the shouting, the screaming, the kicking and the blaming. Please stop it.

Posted by: njoebott | September 10, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

The congressman was not only disrespectful of the president but also the office of the presidency. Of course this guy is a racist, his record proves it as well as the wonderful Americans that continue to elect him, who profess to "love their fellow man". They actually could care less about uninsured people. Fortunately, they and their policies are withering away...and for a state as poor as South Carolina they better hope for a public option. And please, for all of you who fear the government and want it out of your lives...please send back your stimulus checks.

Posted by: callmeljok | September 10, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Finally, someone has had the courage to point out what's going on in all too many conservative Republican "minds", as they strive mightily to get more of us believing, as they do, that President Obama is not of "our America", but an anti-Christ Muslim who pals around with terrorists, is simultaneously a fascist and socialist "like Hitler", and wants to take all of our guns away, etc. etc. There is a reason that this unrelenting torrent of crap is so void of reason: it's not *about* reasoned claims. It's simply revulsion screamed at a person they take to be the illegitimate occupant of his office-- because he is an alien, anti-Christian Muslim, just like Hitler and Marx, lying to us constantly, evil evil man, etc. etc. But people who labor so to delegitimize the president with these claims would never suggest that he is illegitimate because he is black ... would they?

Posted by: EricFlatpick | September 10, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

From Rob Miller, Joe Wilson's 2010 S.C., Democratic Challenger:

Since Joe Wilson's outburst last night during a joint session of Congress, I've been honored by the support of thousands of grassroots activists standing up to tell him that what he did was completely unacceptable. Please stand with me to bring new leadership to South Carolina.

So far Mr. Miller has raised over $650,000, since Wilson's Outburst.

If you want to donate to Mr. Miller Campaign, the link is here:

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/robmiller?refcode=rmsite

or

http://www.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/19079

Posted by: lcarter0311 | September 10, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Racism according to webaster:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

2 : racial prejudice or discrimination


So how is it racism again, Mr Cohen?

Posted by: NoWeCant | September 10, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Well written article. Thank You.

Posted by: daijae52_1 | September 10, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for pointing out the obvious. I spent enough time in the South to know racism when I see it. I have heard the most atrocious lies about Obama, coming from Southern acquaintances. The Republicans, even those who are not racist, are happy to go along with any negativity aimed at Obama. Unhappily, the days of hating anyone with black ancestry, even if it's only half, are far from over. Anyone who thought that racism had ended when the country elected a mixed-race president can now see how wrong they were. Racism is still a sad reality in the United States.

Posted by: CRinVegas | September 10, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Cohen, for voicing the thought that is occurring to many concerned citizens about the appalling state of the GOP and the right wing in this country. They are letting their blind contempt and hatred for Pres. Obama get the best of them. Of course it's partly racism--the uppity mixed race president who dares to oppose the southern evangelical "know nothings" who constitute the modern GOP. What is noteworthy is that he is unfailingly gracious even while being attacked. But it's also plainly jealousy: the Democrats have a charismatic, popular, articulate, and attractive leader and they don't. They once had Ronald Reagan, who represented those attributes to many Americans (regardless of what people thought of his politics), but that was a generation ago. Now they have no one like that, and they have to watch in frustration as the Democrats have those qualities in Pres. Obama. Even more galling, those dang foreigners the Republicans are so fearful of actually like Obama and thus have a more positive view of America. Well, you reap what you sow. With their current behavior they only make themselves look small and out of touch; they truly are shrinking into a reduced southern/intermountain states redoubt while the rest of the country wonders how the heck they lost their marbles. Republicans, enjoy your time in the wilderness; most rational people would try to come in from the political wilderness after the election drubbings of 2006 and 2008, but apparently you are enjoying it so much you want to prolong your stay there. Let us know when you want to rejoin the grownups!

Posted by: Colothinker | September 10, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

joe wilson was not sorry. He just released a fund raising tape that declares he will not be muzzled by the President. That he will continue to shout at anyone who does not see things his way. He needs to resign immediately or be thrown out. We can no longer trust the republicans.

Posted by: melodymg | September 10, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

To attribute Wilson's outburst to racism with absolutely no evidence is an obsessive stretch. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Posted by: coy66ote | September 10, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

No matter what his outburst was unnecessary and unprofessional....

www.ViewandRecord.com

Posted by: viewsandrecorddotcom | September 10, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing how this outburst has received more attention than the speech itself.

www.ViewsandRecord.com

Posted by: viewsandrecorddotcom | September 10, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Cohen, while I don't think racism is the sole factor for the GOP acting as if they are actively participating in a three year old Montessori classroom, I do think racism is a factor. I just do not understand how they continue to think that the president isn't genuine about health care reform.

Posted by: parisadon | September 10, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Now you know why people were called Southern White trash. They live up to it. joe wilson is a perfect example. Racist you bethcha! He should be asked to resign immediately! Abraham Lincoln probably rolled over in his grave, when joe wilson shouted at our Wonderful President Obama!

Posted by: melodymg | September 10, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

The D.C. definition of racist follows:

Racist--(def.) Any person or persons of white skin color who dares to disagree with a liberal, either black or white; anyone who opposes socialism or subscribes to the ridiculous (such as balancing the budget or getting the country on its way out of debt to a communist country; any individual who does not believe government has all the answers to all matters; any individual of white skin pigment who dares to think as an individual; a believer in individual liberty and that rights are accompanied by responsibility; anyone other than a liberal, white or black

Posted by: johntu | September 11, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

I think racism is a loaded word to use in regards to Republican opposition to Obama's policies. But racism has and always be apart of our American society and story. Do I think there is racism against this president? Yes I do. Do I think it is the dominate reason why they dislike him? I don't know. The more people talk about this incident the more it will resignate in the minds of people especially people of color. I think this action by this congressmen what disrepectful just as would be if a democrat did it to Bush. If Obama would have given this speech 3 months ago when his poll numbers were around 60-70 percent, he would gotten healthcare reform by now because most of the country would have still been with him. The Republicans bring the problem of race on themselves because their party members don't reflect the racial and ethnic make up of America. Until they have members who aren't 90-95 percent white, then the racism charges they face will dwindle. I think this action by the congressmen shows a partisan divide and indicates frustration of the Republican party that is in the minority and that could be a minority party if they don't reach out to minorities. It has been soley a white male, mostly rural, small town, deep South party with some mediocre strength in Western and Plain states with no Electoral College strength.

Posted by: jharris3 | September 11, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Just insert the word "barely" before "repressed bigotry" and you've got it right. After all, Wilson did refrain from shouting out the "n" word. Now, that would have been unrepressed. PS An opinion columnist is allowed to wonder all sorts of things. Are you insinuating that's not what you are?

Posted by: daphne5 | September 11, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

It seems that folks from both parties and independents cannot disagree with Obama without being called racists. Joe Wilson was rude and his comment was inappropriate in the very formal setting. That does not make him a racist. He is probably a southern gentleman with good manners, but allowed his emotions to prevail over common sense.

The emotions displayed by the Republicans and others had nothing to do with race and much to do about many things. It was a little like the town halls. Though they were called for health care, people showed up because they are concerned about a host of issues including debt; bailouts; cap and trade and the spending of money we don't have. Frankly, they are scared about losing the America we all know and love.

It all manifests as health care because that is the subject at hand but it is the entire Obama administration, his lack of experience and his apparent lack of knowledge regarding what more debt can do to the American people that riles them.

Obama is book smart. He is not street smart. He is not what we need now. A reincarnation of Harry Truman would be nice.

Posted by: Kansas28 | September 11, 2009 1:19 AM | Report abuse

I put myself about 10 yards to the left of Obama and we in this neighborhood have no use for Richard Cohen. His flabby, banal writing is a disservice to whatever cause he is espousing. I would happily trade him to the right for future considerations.

Posted by: dansco | September 11, 2009 3:20 AM | Report abuse

Of course they are racist. And stupid. Most of these clowns don't know that the Union won the civil war. This coalition of the racist and the stupid will bring us all down, unfortunately.

Posted by: southsidexpat | September 11, 2009 4:30 AM | Report abuse

On this day, Sept. 11th, the anniversary of one of the most horrific events to take place on our soil- which "united" us briefly, we now experience division in our country similar to that of the Civil War period...another horrific event in our history, on our soil. People should be ashamed of themselves that instead of going forward and looking to our future, people are regressing to behaviors seen in other countries, and of a time I thought we left behind. Shame on you.

Posted by: mimo1 | September 11, 2009 5:51 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen: If the Main Stream Media had done just a litte bit of vetting Obama during last years' campaign, he would not be there as President. The 'empty suit' would have been laid bare to the voters.

Posted by: Mecarswell | September 11, 2009 6:43 AM | Report abuse

Racism at work? Absolutely true and they know it! How else can you explain their eagerness to believe all the hateful, insane charges and lies too numerous to repeat that are made and eagerly accepted and the depth of animosity toward him? Angry black man, problem with whites, wants America to fail, not born here, death panels, and more and their leaders are hatemongers like Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and such..
Racism is not acceptable in todays society so the feelings are suppressed but they come out in different ways and racists wont even admit it to themselves but just check out any right wing website and the irrational hate is there to see and try to explain it with any other reason.

Given the GOPs attitude toward race and minorities its embrace of hate groups its the only logical reason for their anger. Thanks for telling it like it is!! and dont be surprised when they squeal as you step on their feet!

Posted by: bird123claw | September 11, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

The use of the race card is getting increasingly tiresome and ridiculous. It is the last resort of ignorant people. Why can you not disagree with our President's policy (he is our President) without being labeled a racist? Some on the right claimed those against Bush policies were unpatriotic and that was wrong also. Intelligent people can disagree on policy. Idiots must demonize the opposition!

Posted by: kerrigand | September 11, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

When opposition to a piece of legislation turns swiftly into disdain for the man -- when policy becomes personal -- a columnist is permitted to wonder why. He is permitted, furthermore, to wonder if some of Obama’s more hateful critics are not expressing a repressed bigotry -- the feeling that the man up on the dais cannot really be the president of the United States. After all, he does not look like one.
----------

When a columnist cannot refrain from injecting Mr. Obama's race into every discussion of political differences, readers are entitled to ask themselves just who it is that is obsessed with race. Who are the people always talking about race, who never forget for an instant that Mr. Obama is 1/2 black? Who are the people who thought it was going to be a big deal because a black man was president? Who cheerled Mr. Obama's presidency because they thought it would be just super and historic for America to have a black president? People like Mr. Cohen, that's who. The once upon a time mainstream media, that's who. Liberals in general, that's who. These are the modern day racists. These are the people who simply cannot stop thinking and talking about race. Other Americans have moved past all that long ago. Liberals like Mr. Cohen cling to their racism by always looking for racism in others.

Mr. Cohen and others who keep impugning the motives and integrity of those who entertain different political ideas really ought to stand in front of a mirror sometime and take a good look at themselves. They are the ones with racist thinking and racist obsessions. They are the ones who think it is such a big deal that Barack Obama happens to be 1/2 black. Because they think it is such a big deal they assume it is a big deal to everybody else, that other Americans are always thinking about Mr. Obama's race like they are. They cannot imagine why Americans would not be thinking about the fact that Mr. Obama is 1/2 black every time they think about him.

This is a big mistake. Mr. Obama's critics are not interested in his race but his politics. They also have begun to detest his bad character.

It is easy to spot modern racists, for like traditional racists they are the ones who are always talking about race, injecting race into everything, making a big deal about someone's race. Normal Americans are tired of being accused of racism by real racists like Mr. Cohen and his pals. We have gotten beyond all that race stuff and wish people like Mr. Cohen would hurry and catch up with us. It is difficult to discuss political differences with people who are so obsessed with race that they think it explains everything.

Posted by: Teleologicus | September 11, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

As I read the comments on the Wilson 'furor' I wondered: next the media will wonder if he and others are racists. But there is no 'next': this morning Mr. Cohen has provided this already! Amazing. There are too many blogs and venues available for silly opinions, and eventually that 'space' becomes filled up with words like Mr. Cohen's.

Posted by: sar8303 | September 11, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Mr Cohen, you speak the truth! How would the Bush camp have reacted if a representative had yelled "Liar!" as he was addressing Congress? I can only imagine the puffed-up outrage. And how much more intensified would that outrage have been if a black representative had called Mr. Bush a "Liar"? But the same hard conservative camp makes excuses for the representative who called our current President a liar. I am sorry to say Mr. Cohen, but I think you are right. There is such fury and venom aimed toward this President over a lot of mis-information which is quickly embraced. I do believe race plays into this, big time!

Posted by: buyacme | September 11, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

There is a lot of denial on this comment thread. The irrational, ugly hatred directed at Obama (an only slightly left of center democrat) does need an explanation. "Birtherism" needs an explanation. "Death panels" needs an explanation. Taking guns to town halls needs an explanation. No, there was nothing like this, at all, directed at Bush. He was hated by a number of liberals, but there is an extraordinary disproportion between how he and Obama have been treated: What was a 2% fringe on the left (involving almost no elected officials) has been mainstreamed on the right. Okay, so you're not racists. But somehow his election a wide majority of your fellow citizens is a direct assault on your idea of "America." You come up with a better explanation.

Posted by: madhoboken | September 11, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

"It would be an awful thing if genuine criticism was labeled racist and therefore muffled." It would also be an awful thing if genuine criticism was labeled racist and therefore amplified. Oops. Seriously though, make sure you know what you're doing before you're playing the race card. Looks to me like you were just looking to blow the situation out of control. You're a sad excuse for a journalist.

Posted by: futbolclif | September 11, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!!!

You are exactly right. There is NOOOOO reason why people should get SO ANGRY about HEALTH CARE REFORM. Health care reform is meant to SAVE LIVES.

For all these people to get DEVILISHLY ANGRY as if DEMONS are INSIDE of them makes no sense unless it's racism. TURNING BRIGHT RED and screaming is more than just a disagreement with policy, that is HATRED, which comes from RACISM.
These groups look like the lynch mobs back in the day ready to string up somebody.

And these people bringing GUNS to the President's speech, is nothing more than them wishing they could actually SHOOT and KILL the President. (And they probably would if they did not think they'd get shot themselves or get arrested... you know, back in the GOOD OLD DAYS when lynching those boys was okay)

This type of behavior has never happened with a white President, why are all of these incidents happening with the first BLACK President???

Think About It

Posted by: ReallyThinkAboutIt | September 11, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

truth.

Posted by: mikeVA1 | September 11, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen has openly stated what many of us deep down fear to be true. Many consider Obama to be an illegitimate president and the basis is racism. It's the truth and it hurts.

Posted by: spalasis | September 11, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Sigh...Cohen, we're about the same age, but it seems that our recollection of history is profoundly different. The first presidential candidate I ever campaigned for was LBJ. Three years later I was not only marching in the streets against him, but mocking him in our college production of MacBird. With me and everyone I marched with it had nothing at all to do with him being what you (and perhaps the Kennedys) call an illegitimate president, and everything to do with his conduct of an illegitimate war (that would be a war conducted for fabricated cause that has nothing to do with actual national defense). It seems those of us on the left will never be given credit for being motivated by bad policy. With you Beltway mavens, we're always the loud, spoiled brats of your Code Pink nightmares driven by personal animus. You project much too much. Sir.

Posted by: Asinistra | September 11, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans have nothing positive to offer America, they are just a brainless mob trying to bring down America's president with jeers and displays of violence.

I suppose the next step for them is GOP congressmen bringing their guns to a joint session of Congress and maybe firing a few warning shots just so that Negro knows they mean bidness.

Posted by: ottoparts | September 11, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I find it shocking that you are accusing the party of ancient white Southerners of racism.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | September 11, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse


I certainly agree that the current ill-mannered behavior, and vitriol directed at the President has nothing to do with serious discourse on issues but is blatant racism. Looking at congressman Wilson’s look of disgust and distaste when screaming, “you lie,” you can see his inner thoughts saying, “ who does this uppity Negro think he is lecturing to me.”

Posted by: PsychNP | September 11, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Of course, the disdain shown by Republicans for the President stems from barely repressed racism. They simply cannot stomach the fact that a -- not lily-white -- person sits in the WH. I am sure that they find the President "uppity" since he has the nerve to be well-educated, intelligent, and sophisticated. It only makes them (the Reps) look like what they really are: a bunch of ignorant, bigoted, insular, lazy, paranoid, half-wits.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | September 11, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Obama ran as a moderate liberal, not a candidate that was going to dramatically transform the United States into a European-type state. For example, nowhere in the campaign did he mention increasing federal spending by a third in one year and trillion dollar plus deficits for the next ten years. Thus, it should come as no surprise that many people are virulently opposed to the man. If Obama succeeds, the U.S. will never be the same. It will be a stagnant, class-bound, less free shadow of its former self.

It is myopic and juvenile to call such opposition racist. It is also highly ironic for those on the Left to be calling criticism of their Left-wing President UNAMERICAN. The Left-wing intelligentsia have become the new McCarthyites. What conservative activists have done over the past few months is tame stuff compared to what Cohen's cohorts did in the 60s and 70s.

Posted by: DavidRBurton | September 11, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Judging from these comments, I'd say the right's formula for "New Racism" is (1) making the charge of racism against former victims of racism, and (2) pretending to be shocked at the charge when it is directed against white folks.

Posted by: dane1 | September 11, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

You are right on target Mr. Cohen.

Criticism and opposition to a President's program and policies is one thing. However the knee jerk opposition by members of the Republican Party and its wing nut supporters to everything about President Obama since November 4, 2008 borders on insanity.

The problem for these people is the complexion of President Obama. He does not look like them. And since he does not look like them, then these members of the Republican Party think President Obama should not be afforded the respect given to past Presidents.

The true meaning and direction of the Republican Party was on display to the entire world this past Wednesday night. The GOP has been exposed and can no longer hide from the truth.

Posted by: NewEra | September 11, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

A sign of a racist is usually "claiming" that they aren't one. How many white men have been pulled over for "looking dark" and asked if they've "crossed the river (ala the Rio Grande". Heck, I'm Asian and was pulled over for looking Hispanic.

If you haven't experienced it, it's easy to dismiss it. Then again, it's easy to dismiss everything when the bedrock of your life is the belief that God is White and that dinosaurs played with humans a few thousand years ago.....

Posted by: bhuang2 | September 11, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Amen. George W. Bush lied in his speeches, and many in Congress just gritted their teeth, staying silent during the assembly. They showed the office proper respect. Mr. Wilson has shown himself to be ignorant and rude, and I hope his district remembers that he does them a discredit when election time rolls around.

This isn't Parliament; we don't shout at our leaders in public.

I have long thought that this boiling-under-the-surface outrage that afflicts so many of my fellow citizens can be nothing but racism - repressed, it must be given another name and find new ways to be expressed. In today's American society, it's inappropriate to be openly racist. So they can rant about "political correctness" all they want, they are just as PC for not being straightforward with their irrational hate for Obama.

Posted by: undercover_hon | September 11, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

DavidBurton wrote:
Obama ran as a moderate liberal, not a candidate that was going to dramatically transform the United States into a European-type state
_____________________________

You must be very far right if you think Obama is a leftist!
The man is not ideological and is a center left president.
According you what you are saying about Obama being such a leftist, then Nixon must be a Commie and Reagan must be a leftwing democrat by your standards.

Posted by: vwcat | September 11, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I mean the dude's mentor was Strom Thurmond. Come on now. Need I say more.

Posted by: lany | September 11, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I hate to say it but Cohen is correct. The opposition to O'Bama is largely racial. But so what? The country in the grips of economic and financial panic, the Iraq war going nowhere, and the Bush Administration unable to do anything right -- the country voted for someone they were sold a bill of goods about and they didn't realize that he was black. Now they realize it and it won't happen again. O'Bama will be the first and last black president, mark my words.

Posted by: ravitchn | September 11, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I agree with jim000122: We need more objective opinion columnists.

Get a clue.

Posted by: TheProFromDover | September 11, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Despite O'Bama's alleged post-racialism he has appointed a disturbingly large number of blacks to important position and most of them have been found wanting, in terms of experience, ethics, or achievement. I think of Eric Holder, Van Jones, etc. This does not serve to make people think he is not "really" black. He is.

Posted by: ravitchn | September 11, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Rude?

Of course.

It is to divert attention when the democrats should be putting down the lies of the "shout out" Republican offensive.

The next phase is to call the President a liar and have the public disown both sides. Stalemate works for the Republicans.

The Conference Committee will work for the President and 52 votes in the Senate will seal the deal.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | September 11, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

"they didn't realize that he was black."

Really?

Why not?

Posted by: GaryEMasters | September 11, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

What do expect from the part of Herbert Hoover and Jesse Helms? All you are going to get is incompetence and bigotry............tlr

Posted by: terry_rudolph | September 11, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Thank you so much, Mr. Cohen, for pointing out what others have been thinking but has not been expressed in main stream media.

It is one thing to criticize a president's policies, which is everyone's right, and in fact, it should be encouraged when people legitimately feel they have better solutions to a problem. But this form of criticism seems to be pointed at the president himself not his actions. Bringing guns to a meeting on health care doesn't really make sense to me as a criticism of the issue. Neither do people saying "this is not the America I grew up in" at said meetings.

Some people are simply choosing to be rude and combat whatever this president says simply because they cannot fathom that a black man is president. And they should be called out as such. Joe Wilson's outburst is clearly exhibit A.

Shouldn't we pride ourselves that our country has done first what no other Western country has done? Shouldn't we be happy that our country is making great strides every era to actually make our declaration of independence, with its statement of equality, a reality? Clearly some people would rather return back to the 1950s. Well we aren't so I suggest you get over it, or you will indeed be angry for the rest of your life over things out of your control...

Posted by: maaa | September 11, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

There is a difference between what Wilson did and the (legitimate) act of accusing a president through legal channels of lying, based on evidence. Yes, Democrats subjected George Bush and Richard Nixon to this treatment, but Republicans also subjected Bill Clinton to it, and over an issue of much less significance. Nixon was proved to be lying. Cheney admitted that Bush was lying. Clinton admitted that he lied.

Standing before a joint session and shouting the unsubstantiated accusation at a speaking President is a different thing. It's not the accusation itself, but the time, place, and timbre of the accusation that's appalling.

We also note that Wilson has in essence retracted or invalidated his so-called apology by refusing to apologize to the House, and temporizing that he only apologized to Rahm E. because he was ordered to do so by the Republican leadership. He's a hateful scum. Whether he's also a racist seems irrelevant.

Posted by: martimr1 | September 11, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Race Card Players today open the gate,
Please listen before you alter fates. Do not let one’s pride, Restart this great nation to divide. Look at what is happening in such a short time, What this is undoing is really the crime. All across America people are upset, Now I ask each of you what good will all this get? A learning lessons already taught, So many people’s mending has been for naught.

A man has risen to lead us all, Do not be a part of America’s fall. This is the year of our lord, two thousand and nine, So please do what you all know to be divine. One planet, one race, as one beating heart, The world may end some day, please do not be the start. We lead the world with freedom first, Do not let racism quench it’s undying thirst. To not enslave us all at last, Lets look forward away from our past. The mistakes we make and continue to do, Could spell the end of more then me and you, by bringing down our great nation, All of this for the sake of sensation. I ask you not to let our enemies see, such things may still live in the land of the free.

Yes America there is a change across our land. People are Worried that nothing is going as planned. I know it looks as if everything is turning out wrong. America has endured hardships before and again became strong. We have an advantage over the rest of the world, our nation stands side by side with our arms curled. As one we breath the air others can smell. Our freedoms a tale no other land can tell. Our strengths in unity given with free will. For though its forbidden , to protect it we will kill. In self defense only throughout our proud history. So why others seek to harm us is a true mystery. We open our boarders to all who exist. We die in their lands helping others to resist.

We have always supplied aide to those in need. America grew from an idea that all of its people should be freed.. Tyranny and oppression belong in the past. For to fight against freedom no enemy could last. No chains in the womb, our path to life. So let no one be able to cause another strife. No nation stands as America for freedom. Proven to our enemies as we soundly beat em. The light of America may flicker in some eyes, to them truth and justice, are nothing but lies.

Our fore fathers brought forward a race unseen on this planet for all time. One that believes that to deny freedom is a universal crime. So no matter the troubles that may come our way, The flag of America will gallantly lead the way. Together we stand, never to fall, so remember we are the greatest nation of all.

I love the different colors of man, We were created according to plan. So different and the same, All of us with our own name. Man and woman free to combine, To create new life is so divine. Able to mix and mingle, No one has to be single. Banding together to survive, I for one am happy to be alive. If we all looked alike it would not be nice, I’m so glad to be the only Sonny Rice.

Posted by: SonnyRice | September 11, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Some people didn't realize O'Bama was black because they wanted to pretend they were unprejudiced; others were preoccupied with other concerns. I use the O'Bama way of referring to our president because I like to pretend he is Irish: this makes it easier for me, it helps me forget what he really is! Makes sense? No, but we make whatever compromises with reality we can when reality is unpalatable.

Posted by: ravitchn | September 11, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

mct1 wrote:
Funny I do not recall such concern when Bush was shown much more than disrespect. Does anybody recall that we democrats were the racist's and the republicans got the 1964 Civil Rights Bill passed? Clearly we Americans know no history.

**************************
Who knows no history? The Civil Rights Act was signed into law by Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, with massive bi-partisan support. Democrats, as now, held the majority in both houses of Congress. And Johnson predicted (correctly, as it turned out) upon signing the bill, "We [Democrats] have lost the South for a generation."

Posted by: martimr1 | September 11, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

President Bush was not booed during his first year in office even though he spent more time on vacation than any other President in history - 44% of his time according to the WashingtonPost.

I am glad some pub brought the comparison issue up - and the reason Bush was treated so well is because he inherited a nation at peace, with a federal budget surplus, crime was down, restricted illegal immigration, health care costs even fell from 1995 to 1996, wages were up, productivity was way up, unemployment was down.

What does Obama inherit - economy in shambles, record setting deficits, out of control health care costs made worse by his predecessor's legislation of the medicaid and pharmacuetical bills, nation at war with extremist muslims in Afghanistan and terrorists in Iraq, runaway illegal immigration, high crime, falling incomes, lower productivity, serious deficits in infrastructure (like no bridge repairs during the previous administration).

And the GOP's whining about how Bush was treated?

Posted by: agapn9 | September 11, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Many prejudiced people do reasonable things for unreasonable reasons. Those who are offended when racism is revealed are offended because they identify with the behavior.

For those of you who are offended here, remember... many of you tolerate people f color when they do what they're told and get in where they fit in (Michael Steele, Colin Powel, etc.). When a person of color is strong-willed and doesn't agree with you, they are suppressed, rejected, or their character is attacked.

President Bush was an idiot. He was uneducated and stole an election but it took at least TWO YEARS before people started saying it openly. Obama is neither an idiot, uneducated, nor did he steal votes. Additionally, he's not been in office a year.

Stop comparing the two.

Good alternate perspective. You can't have an Opinion piece without an opinion. And for those who don't like it, click the little "X" in the top of your window.

Posted by: interAKAtive | September 11, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Wilson was a member in good standing of the Sons of the Conferacy, which according to this story is populated with ex-KKK'rs and racists.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-09-11/joe-wilsons-rebel-yell/?cid=hp:mainpromo6

I guess ole 'bubba' Wilson didn't know this.

A quote from the Son's of the Confederacy's newsletter:

• “Previously, anthropologists had routinely recorded the notable differences in IQ among the races; but at Columbia, a liberal cultural anthropologist named Franz Boas…decreed that there were no differences in IQ among the races, and the only biological differences between the blacks and whites were of superficial nature… Meanwhile, the liberals in the media heaped special praise upon black athletes, musicians, singers, and writers—and treated them as typical of the black race. The liberals were creating a false image of the blacks in America as a highly competent people who were being held back by the prejudiced white Southerners.”
—Conner, September/October 2003

Posted by: Richard18 | September 11, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Of course racism was at play in Wilson's comments, not directed at the president (a clear lack of respect) but at brown illegals. The increased attacks on Americans of hispanic heritage has increased with GOP preying on people's prejudice. Illegals are treated at hospital emergency rooms because the courts have said they must. I don't think many religious organizations will support denying care to anyone, so I wonder where the GOP is going splitting it's base.

Posted by: jameschirico | September 11, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Once again we are forced to read another Obama defender who can't stand to see anything negative said or done against Obama without bringing up that it just has to be racist. I am getting to the point of feeling really really sorry for those people who indeed are going to be faced with real racist attacks and are now going to suffer because the word itself is being reduced to merely something so trivial where it will soon no longer mean what it used to mean. Say something negative against Obama - you're a racist. Don't agree with his policies - you must be racist. Disagree with a democrat - you're a racist. What a shame when those people got so upset when republicans called them un-American, that now the insult is racism, bigotry and jokes about being some hick from the south who knows no better.

Posted by: justmyvoice | September 11, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

During the primary and/or the general campaign(s), as I recall, it was Sen. Obama who first raised race as an issue, in his "and, oh, by the way, did I mention (or say)... comment, and in his reference to his dissimilarity to those Presidents pictured on various denominations of U. S. currency, so Mr. Cohen, in now raising the issue, is simply following his leader

Posted by: georgerflynn | September 11, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Bravo! Case in point. During the 9/11 attacks, President Bush was visiting what seem to be an all black/minority school. The percentage of these children parents most likely did not vote for Bush and disagreed with his policies, however, it was considered an honor to be visited by the President of the US. President Obama was vilified by being TOO RADICAL and some schools refused to show the speech on TV. Whats the motivation?

Too many whites (especially in southern states) consider themselves better than African Americans, so to have an articulate, smart black man achieve the highest office of the land by hard work and determination is an assault against their conscience. There is a line in the movie Mississippi Burning: " If you are not better than a black man, who are you better than"?


Posted by: biznesschic | September 11, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Journalists are beating around the bush, afraid of inciting even more the already rabid goobers on the right fringe.

"waaahhh! I want my America back!"

People like the goober lady who bawled out the above at a town meeting.

When will the media realize that these demented, bigoted people do not deserve a platform?!! The media needs to stop being afraid and to label all those bigoted goobers for the racists that they are.

Posted by: osmor | September 11, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

something in the water is SC.
joe wilson was told to apologize and admits that he was ask to do it by his party leaders. It was not legit.
Joe Wilson cross the line on the House Floor. If this happen during a "House debate" all work would have stopped and a democrat would demand that wilson's words be "taken down"
C-span: "Words Taken Down is the House rule used to discipline a member for using inappropriate words in debate.
After the words are "taken down" by the clerk and read back, the chair rules on their suitability.
If ruled inappropriate, the member may not speak again on the same day without House permission."

Wilson ought to be ban for from speaking on the house floor for the rest of the year. The decorum of the House should be respected at all times. This is not a town hall meeting. This is a joint session of congress. The folks from South Carolina that I know don't act this way.

This behavior by the republicans is appalling. Goofy Gomert waving a sign doing the President's speech was lower than low. This is not another country. THIS IS THE US STATES OF AMERICA, were most people try to teach their children to act civil. The republican minority leader must take full responsibilty for his party's action and ban his members from watching their other leaders like glen beck, rush limbaugh, fox news and the like until after the work is complete on healthcare.

Posted by: MILLER123 | September 11, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

People want Obama to fail. Therefore they want the country to fail. Their way of achieving this is to create public mayhem through fear,lies and imtimidation. Can you imagine a black guy showing up anywhere with a gun inside or outside the perimeter of a Bush speech? The secret service would have been all over him. Now it seems with our new President, its ok.

So-called Pastor Steve Anderson from the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona wants Barack Obama dead----reveals it during several sermons.

Speaking of hijacking...how about trying to hijack christianity. Take a look at this false prophet and his so-called church and gun toting congregation.

The black gun toter that show up when the President spoke at a rally goes to his church...Don't the terrorist recruit like this false prophet in a MOSQUE or temple?
This black guy is in a picture with the false prophet of the church in Arizona

Posted by: MILLER123 | September 11, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh, good grief Richard, after 8 years of "W" being protrayed as an ape (and there's even a Leftwingtard website devoted to that called "Smirking Chimp Dot Com") think of it this way ~ we are NOT portraying Obama as an ape.

Be greatful for the small things because it could be much worse and there's nothing you guys who participated in the ape pictures can say ~ you'll just have to hang there from your perches scratching your pits.

Posted by: muawiyah | September 11, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

To all those Race Card Players today open the Hate gate,
Please listen before you alter fates. Do not let one’s pride, Restart this great nation to divide. Look at what is happening in such a short time, What this is undoing is really the crime. All across America people are upset, Now I ask each of you what good will all this get? A learning lessons already taught, So many people’s mending has been for naught.

A man has risen to lead us all, Do not be a part of America’s fall. This is the year of our lord, two thousand and nine, So please do what you all know to be divine. One planet, one race, as one beating heart, The world may end some day, please do not be the start. We lead the world with freedom first, Do not let racism quench it’s undying thirst. To not enslave us all at last, Lets look forward away from our past. The mistakes we make and continue to do, Could spell the end of more then me and you, by bringing down our great nation, All of this for the sake of sensation. I ask you not to let our enemies see, such things may still live in the land of the free.

Yes America there is a change across our land. People are Worried that nothing is going as planned. I know it looks as if everything is turning out wrong. America has endured hardships before and again became strong. We have an advantage over the rest of the world, our nation stands side by side with our arms curled. As one we breath the air others can smell. Our freedoms a tale no other land can tell. Our strengths in unity given with free will. For though its forbidden , to protect it we will kill. In self defense only throughout our proud history. So why others seek to harm us is a true mystery. We open our boarders to all who exist. We die in their lands helping others to resist.

We have always supplied aide to those in need. America grew from an idea that all of its people should be freed.. Tyranny and oppression belong in the past. For to fight against freedom no enemy could last. No chains in the womb, our path to life. So let no one be able to cause another strife. No nation stands as America for freedom. Proven to our enemies as we soundly beat em. The light of America may flicker in some eyes, to them truth and justice, are nothing but lies.

Our fore fathers brought forward a race unseen on this planet for all time. One that believes that to deny freedom is a universal crime. So no matter the troubles that may come our way, The flag of America will gallantly lead the way. Together we stand, never to fall, so remember we are the greatest nation of all.

I love the different colors of man, We were created according to plan. So different and the same, All of us with our own name. Man and woman free to combine, To create new life is so divine. Able to mix and mingle, No one has to be single. Banding together to survive, I for one am happy to be alive. If we all looked alike it would not be nice, I’m so glad to be the only Sonny Rice.

Posted by: SonnyRice | September 11, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

It seems as though Mr. Cohen and so many others cannot see past the President's skin color. This administration's proposals are HUGE in terms of costs, and represent a dramatic shift in the role government plays in the lives of everyone. Still, it seems some people, like Mr. Cohen, want to continually focus on the race of our President. I guess many of Mr. Cohen's generation cannot look at a black person without being hyper-conscious of that person's race. It must be the main thing on Mr. Cohen's mind, and I surmise that he feels guilt over not being able to get past his obvious racial fixation. So, I guess agreeing with everything that a black President proposes alleviates all of those guilty feelings. And obviously disagreeing with a black President means you have not come to grips with the fact that you don't like black people. Now, where does that leave Thomas Sowell??

Posted by: scrumps03 | September 11, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen, I think you're a bit wide of the mark. The unspoken racism you refer to is most on display in the protests over President Obama's address to schoolchildren. That no black man has the right to tell these white kids what to do.

I think the President is doing the only thing he can do. Ignore it, rise above it, let these people be themselves for all to see. And let the American majority decide on which side to stand. The GOP really needs to rethink who they are and what they stand for.

Posted by: chimpunk | September 12, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

The disdain for our president by many Republicans is palpable. Racism is not acknowledged by many so it is not surprising that the "ugly feeling" in the House chamber is denied also. Unfortunately there is a reason for South Carolina's reputation for racism, the amount of money Wilson is raising speaks to that.

Posted by: drlindapaey | September 12, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Do you think all the racists disappeared after Obama's election? I don't.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 12, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

who demand to see the president’s birth certificate, and then, when they see it, insist it cannot be genuine
===============

No, they did not see it! That's the whole point! All they saw was a computer printout from 2007!

One does not have to be a racist to hate Presidents guts. All it takes is to review his political convictions, which are somewhere between Chavez and Castro. The scum like Harry Reid and Pelosi are hated even more than Obama. What does it make their haters? Black racists? Idiot

Posted by: pihto999 | September 12, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen is looking at the motives of an increasingly angry, lawless and disrespectful group of political outcasts (the Republicans) and questioning the possibility of racism as one cause of this embarrassing behavior.
===========
Lawless? LOL. You need to look for the motives? They are not obvious to you? OK, I will point you to them.

How about trillions of debt Obama plunged this country into within A SINGLE YEAR? How about Gubmint taking over Auto and Banking industry and now trying to take over Health Care industry? How about putting a bunch of unaccountable and unconfirmed Tsars in charge of everything? Obama political philosophy lies between Chavez and Castr. How is that for the motives, you race hustler?

Posted by: pihto999 | September 12, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

pihto999, you do realize that Bush and the Republicans are the ones who nearly destroyed the American economy, right?

Posted by: wbgonne | September 12, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

You're right mr. cohen.

These lemmings had no problem supporting the medicare prescription drug program that was unfunded. They had no problem support two unfunded wars - but NOW they're railing about spending? It makes NO logical sense - so there are obviously alterior motives.

Look at the demographics - the republicans only held over 65 and the uneducated caucasians. That's telling. Look at the complexion of the crowd at the march this weekend. I'll bet you'll be able to count the number of minorities present on one hand.

I'm embarrassed for my country. It's an ugly face for the republican party - those who are sane will not be a party to such nonsense.

Posted by: notfooledbydistractions | September 12, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Let's see: Joe Wilson, a privileged white Southern man and admirer and former staffer of Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond, publicly insults the President of the United States in the people's house of Congress during his address. Could it be possible that, at least unconsciously, he views it as an affront that a black man tries to make national policy, that is, tell him what to do?

Posted by: allenmeyer | September 12, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Everything Rep Joe Wilson learned about presidential respect he learned from Senator Harry Reid.

Posted by: kurtmudgeon1 | September 12, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope the House Democrats carry through with their plan to censure the backwoods South Carolina hillbilly, Joe Wilson. He and his Republican buddy, Jim DeMint are indeed racist to the core. You can bet Wilson's pappy and grandpappy were both card carrying KKK members. Grandpappy doubtless participated in a few lynchings in his time and pappy tried to keep black kids out of South Carolina schools. Wilson was wearing a suit Wednesday evening, but he should have been in ragged bib overalls and a straw hat with befit his station in life. We wonder if he was wearing shoes.

Posted by: dsrobins | September 12, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Well, there is the E. Howard Hunt deathbed confession.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/april2007/300407deathbedconfession.htm

Lyndon Baines Johnson met with Dallas tycoons, FBI moguls and organized crime kingpins - emerging from the conference to tell his mistress Madeleine Duncan Brown that "those SOB's" would never embarrass him again....George Herbert Walker Bush was also pictured at the scene of the crime in Dealy Plaza.

In addition, Barr McClellan, father of former White House press secretary Scott McClellan and a partner in the Austin law firm that represented Johnson, wrote in his 2003 book that LBJ was a key player in the organization of the assassination and its cover-up.

http://www.rense.com/general76/hunt.htm

Posted by: WilliamBlake | September 12, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I hear racist comments about Obama every day, unless I stay in. Too many Republicans seem to assume that if you are white you share their ugliness. Whether or how much that influenced Wilson I have no idea. I am more inclined to think he was just catering to the people he needed to vote for him.

Posted by: withersb | September 12, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I suppose it makes you a little indignant and bitter to be a member of the party of Bush's failures.

Posted by: digby2 | September 12, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I hear racist comments about Obama every day, unless I stay in. Too many Republicans seem to assume that if you are white you share their ugliness. Whether or how much that influenced Wilson I have no idea. I am more inclined to think he was just catering to the people he needed to vote for him.

Posted by: withersb
/////////////////////
You know, except over the Internet, I never heard a racist comment about President Obama.
I'm white, maybe the racist Mexicans and Asians keep quiet around me.
Maybe it's because I live out west? And white racists are on the Atlantic and gulf coastlines mainly? We don't have any Ivy League out here, maybe that's it.

But come on. All politicians just about lie about immigration. Its how they are destroying us working class. Immigration is all about reducing the political and economic strength of the lower classes.

But the Big Boss's want it this way. The politicians really work for the Big Boss's, like the the Bush's, and Walton's.
It's just pretense that the public has anything to do with it.

The Big Boss's hate inflation, and decided to have high unemployment as a means to prevent inflation, which screws the working class but que sera sera.

And since this policy of screwing the working class was established by Teddy Kennedy and made Fed policy by Jimmy Carter, Democrats, and maintained by both parties untill now, I have trouble separating the Democrats from Republicans.

I will concede the Democrats show more angst, and try to balance things a bit more humane, they know neoliberalism is so harsh, such as with this national Health Care plan Obama hopes for.

Obama is walking a fine line. He has Nixon as example of trying to side too openly with the American public against the Boss's. Nixon I believe rebelled against the Boss's in trying to get us National Health care, end upper class draft deferments, ending the Cold War, ending Viet Nam, and trying to make the USA energy independent (which meant striking at Rockefeller monopolies).

Now, what was all that about racism, immigration, and lies?
At least we still have freedom of speech, hey?

Posted by: WilliamBlake | September 12, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Whether Joe the Wilson's "outburst" was racism or not doesn't interest me much. I watched the joint session of Congress and his comment was totally uncalled for. What Obama was saying was simply the truth: there have been lies spread around about "death panels" and free rides for illegal immigrants. These lies need to be addressed and the President directly answered these misrepresentations. At that point Wilson piped up from the back of the class. It seems to have got him the attention that he wanted as class clown.

Other interesting misrepresentations include the claims by tea-baggers that they managed to get more than two million people into Pennsylvania Avenue. Pennsylvania Avenue won't hold two million. The Fire Department's estimate was 60 to 70 thousand, a reasonable number but nowhere near the size of the typical protest in DC. Still if you come from a small town a crowd of 70 thousand can seem fairly impressive. There's no need to underestimate nor to overestimate the impact of the Republican extreme opposition.

The raucus caucus will keep up the shouting for some time yet.


Chris Brown in Hamburg

Posted by: chrisbrown12 | September 13, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Golden rule of pundits who wish to play the race card: Never mention the following facts:

-Francisco Duran currently serves 40 years in jail for attempting to kill President Bill Clinton in 1994, after firing 29 rounds at the White House.

-Several top Conservatives insinuated that Bill Clinton killed Vince Foster during the 1990's.

-Bill Clinton was falsely accused of being a rapist. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1017597/posts

-Bill Clinton was accused of being a drug trafficer: http://ezinearticles.com/?Drugs,-CIA,-And-USA---Mena,-Arkansas-Coverup&id=513418

-A man died after crashing a Cessna plane into the White House lawn, in a possible suicide attempt.

-Congressmen routinely booed Bill Clinton because they thoght he wasn't a legitimate President (because he got less than 50% in the three-way race which included Perot).

If these facts are mentioned, the argument for the race-card suffers. Instead of recognizing that ultra-conservatives hate liberals, they preach to the race-baiting choir that once insinuated that Bill Clinton was racist when he said "Obama's Iraq policy is a fairy tale."

How slick, Mr. Cohen.

(Most of the above-mentioned facts are courtesy of blogger Glenn Greenwald, a true progressive: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/09/12/conservatives/index.html

Posted by: kingsbridge77 | September 14, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

You Obamaphiles ought to let your dear leader defend himself. If not he will get even less respect than he deserves.

He is starting to look like a sensitive wimp. The kind that always got pushed around on the playground at school. The ones that hid behind the teachers skirt.

George Bush took a terrible beating by the liberal establishment for eight solid years. He took it on the chin and went about business, as usual. That deserves respect.

For that matter, so did Clinton, most of the time. He did hide behind Hillary a few times. Those big, wide hips and thighs made a good hiding place.

Maybe you Obama lapdogs are racist at heart. Yeah, that's right! Because Obama is half black he is incapable of taking care of himself. If I were B.O., I would be insulted.

Posted by: battleground51 | September 14, 2009 6:39 AM | Report abuse

WASHINGTON — It was a rare breach of the protocol that governs ritualistic events in the Capitol. In an angry and very audible outburst, Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, interrupted President Obama’s speech Wednesday night with a shout of “You lie!”
This was a front page story after the President Obama’s speech in Capital Hill. The only reason that this story made me to write about it is the obvious racist nature of Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina. His face pictured, when he uttered those words shows deep hate not only for the president who is not white, also for the subject matter. To be more specific President Obama was saying in his speech that “Democratic health proposals would not cover illegal immigrants”. And yet Rep. Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, would not even believe a statement from “Non-white” president about health care coverage for“ Non-white immigrants. This shows Rep. Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, is deeply racist.
Nobody in the Capital Hill told George W. Bush “You lie”! Although we all know by now that George W. Bush lied to American People many times about Iraq-War. Why did Rep. Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, did not open his mouth then, in spite all the opportunities he has had? Only because those lies came from a white President and he (Rep. Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina) had no hateful racism for him.
People of South Carolina are obligated to show their outrage, quickly and unequivocally, regarding their Representative racist outburst, and start the recall campaigned for Rep. Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina. I hope South Carolina make a right move and show that Rep. Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, is in a very small minority in South Carolina.
Marchello,
Snellville, GA.

Posted by: thebullss | September 14, 2009 6:42 AM | Report abuse

Ya think? Obama is no more a socialist than Bill Clinton. Yet they spit out the word "socialist" with the same venom and hatred they would apply if they could use the 'n' word they really mean. That is precisely what was on display both with Wilson and the middle aged white kook march on Saturday.

Posted by: orange3 | September 14, 2009 6:53 AM | Report abuse

"It would be an awful thing if genuine criticism was labeled racist and therefore muffled. But the disrespect shown Obama seems so disproportionate to the issue -- health-care reform -- that I just have to wonder." It is not disproportionate, we believe the man intends to ram his view into law and will not compromise. LABELING ALL OPPOSITION AS RACISM IS RACIST IN AND OF ITSELF.

Posted by: catotheelder1 | September 14, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Stop with the Race card it only fosters old hates,
Please listen before you alter fates.
Do not let one’s pride,
Cause this great nation to divide.
Look at what is happening in such a short time,
What this is undoing is really the crime. All across America people are upset,
Now I ask you Sir what good will all this get?
A learning lessons already taught,
So many people’s mending has been for naught.
A man has risen to lead us all,
Do not be a part of America’s fall.
This is the year of our lord, two thousand and nine,
So please do what you know to be divine. One planet, one race, as one beating heart,
The world may end some day, please do not be the start.
We lead the world with freedom first,
Do not let racism quench it’s undying thirst.
To not enslave us all at last,
Lets look forward away from our troubled past.
The mistakes we make and continue to do, Could spell the end of more then me and you.
By bringing down our great nation,
All of this for the sake of sensation.
I ask you not to let our enemies see, Such things may still live in the land of the free.
I love the different colors of man,
We were created according to plan.
So different and the same,
All of us with our own name.
Man and woman combine,
To create new life is so divine.
Able to mix and mingle,
No one has to be single. Banding together to survive,
I for one am happy to be alive.
If we all looked alike it would not be nice,
I’m so glad to be the only Sonny Rice.

Posted by: SonnyRice | September 14, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Stop with the Race card it only fosters old hates,
Please listen before you alter fates.
Do not let one’s pride,
Cause this great nation to divide.
Look at what is happening in such a short time,
What this is undoing is really the crime. All across America people are upset,
Now I ask you Sir what good will all this get?
A learning lessons already taught,
So many people’s mending has been for naught.
A man has risen to lead us all,
Do not be a part of America’s fall.
This is the year of our lord, two thousand and nine,
So please do what you know to be divine. One planet, one race, as one beating heart,
The world may end some day, please do not be the start.
We lead the world with freedom first,
Do not let racism quench it’s undying thirst.
To not enslave us all at last,
Lets look forward away from our troubled past.
The mistakes we make and continue to do, Could spell the end of more then me and you.
By bringing down our great nation,
All of this for the sake of sensation.
I ask you not to let our enemies see, Such things may still live in the land of the free.
I love the different colors of man,
We were created according to plan.
So different and the same,
All of us with our own name.
Man and woman combine,
To create new life is so divine.
Able to mix and mingle,
No one has to be single. Banding together to survive,
I for one am happy to be alive.
If we all looked alike it would not be nice,
I’m so glad to be the only Sonny Rice.

Posted by: SonnyRice | September 14, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Bravo Cohen for speaking the truth. I am not an African-American. But, I have come across on a daily basis a segment of our white citizens, both male and female who just cannot get over the fact that the majority in this nation indeed elected a black President. They are hell-bent on de-legitimizing the President.

Unfortunately, our country's bigotry and racism in the minds of a minority of whites, have now found an outlet to rally behind "dog-whistle" politics of the birthers, tea-baggers, and now the death panelists, all being led by their "bosses" like Dick Armey, Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Palin et al.

I hope that a segment of the majority of those who voted for Obama will soon gather on the Mall in millions to voice their support for a man who is cleaning up a financial and military mess left behind by George W. Bush.

I am a US Army veteran and a retired physician. I agree with the President that not only we need urgently a health care reform but we need at a minimum a public health option. Otherwise, the big winners of any reform that we initiate will be yet another bonanza for the insurance companies.

I am so glad that columnists like Maureen Dowd (NYTimes) and Cohen are finally speaking up to identify the real elephant in the room, viz., unbridled racism of a minority of whites who just cannot stomach the reality of a black man as the President of our Nation. We saw the same thing of a lesser magnitude when Obama nominated the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court. The sickness of racism is hard to cure in those whites whose childhood conditioning is steeped in racist bigotry.

Posted by: calexo | September 14, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

How does this guy collect a paycheck?

It's racism to yell liar?

This is media code for: Whitey Shut Up..
No matter what is said the media will play the race card because that's all they know.

Posted by: ravioliman6666 | September 14, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

@ravioliman6666: "It's racism to yell liar?"

No. And it's not racist to yell, "That's a lie!" -- which is what a normal outburst would sound like.

But he yelled, "You lie!" I mean, who yells like that? It's not exactly the converse of the commonly heard "You go (girl)!"

Being a (white) Californian, I thought nothing of his words (beyond their disrespectfulness) because I'm pretty sheltered from a lot of white/black separateness thinking. But the more I read in some of the follow-up comments here and Maureen Dowd's column specifically about it:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/opinion/13dowd.html
I now realize that there is something pretty weird at least about Wilson's "You lie!" outburst that goes beyond the words themselves.

Also, although Cohen's comments predate last weekend's "9/12 March" in Washington, it's clear from the few photos I've seen of the bozos there that a racist ideology underpins many of their slogans:
http://thinkprogress.org/2009/09/12/912-signs/

Posted by: screwjob | September 14, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I have read your columns for over thirty years, please keep the race card buried in the deck!

Posted by: MikeMcLamara | September 14, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Obama is no more of a socialist than Clinton. The right spits out the word "socialist" with the same hatred and venom they would use with the 'n' word which is what they cannot say.

Posted by: orange3 | September 14, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

appreciate the boldness of Mr. Cohen for this bold hypothesis. Looking at some of the frenzied responses it seems clear that he may have hit a very raw nerve. But I am inclined to beleive that his conjecture may be grounded in some truth. And not just in this particluar case of the ugly outburst in the Chamber. What I mean is I dont understand the rage that some of the President's opponents seem to harbour. Now coonsider the facts: 1. this man has been in office for about 9 months, 2. he inherited more than any president's normal quota of crisis, 3. he is trying to work his way out of two wars and a big financial crisis 4. he is continuing some of the policies of the previous governement 5. and he is trying to fulfill the promises he made during the campaign for which he was elected with a very convincing margin. Instead of giving the man a chance to get the US and pehaps the world out of a mess here we have people raving mad about non (existent)-issues: his birth cirtificate, death-panels and what not. If it were legitimate criticism one would understand and aprrecitate. But the kind of hysteria that is on display on some of the cable channel and radio talk shows is beyond explanation. So perhaps it is the R-word in action at some level!

Posted by: ManasP | September 14, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

It was there in the McCain Palin rallies, in the votes they got, in the rudeness, lack of respect, lack of interest in this Nation's problems, refusal to accept who won the election, the hatred, the nasty lies, the caricatures, the filthy digs at Michelle Obama, the Freeper posts, the Tea bagging complainers on Medicare out marching to keep goverment out of health care... a sea of white faces... racists.

You cannot explain it in any other way.

And if you don't agree, you're not watching.

Posted by: dutchess2 | September 15, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Disrespect for the office of the President should not normal - especially in Congress although many Congressial representatives seem to do that outside the halls of Congress. I am surprised that Democrats fail to remember that President Bush was booed during his State of the Union speech in 2005. It appears that its OK for Democrats to disrespect the President, but not the Republicans, and to take offical action against a Republican, but not a
Democrat for a similar offense?
Come on people, get off the topic.

Posted by: bmcenany | September 15, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Joe Wilson is a racist. He is Strom Thurmond's heir. The Republican Party is playing to their racist base. By definition, even "moderate" Republicans who treat these things with a nod and a wink partake of this racism. How do I know? I'm a white man to whom these white racists feel comfortable expressing their opinions. It is out there and it is BAD. These Republicans HATE the fact that we have an African-American president.

Posted by: SODDI | September 15, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Y'all southern white racist pigs. Just your reaction to the column shows how racist you are. Not only is wilson a racist, but South Carolina is racist. When the Union won the war, they should have rolled through the south and cleaned house of all the pigs and bid then farwell rescuing them from their uneducated trailer park ways. Lucky I didn't win that war or we wouldn't even be having this conversation today. That's right...I'm just as evil on this side as you are on yours and I can get down on your small level. Problem is...I'm the only one that's gone get back up.

Posted by: JakeSteed | September 15, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Excellent assessment, Mr. Cohen! I agree completely, as also did former president, Jimmy Carter! And who knows better than these southerners, raised and seasoned in the bigotry of racism, to analyze and recognize the typical insidiousness of "HOW IT's DONE"?? This angry CHILDISH comment was interpreted EXACTLY the way it had been MEANT!!

How nice it would be if all these people walking around with "rose-colored-glasses" could wear the glasses of the people who have lived with this disgusting, juvenile, IGNORANT prejudice their entire lives!! So many insist that "the race card" is pulled for no reason! Sadly, THAT would be the "good case" scenario!! Anyone with a brain can see it for what it really was!!

A JUST GOD will make sure to have each of these narrow-minded bigots come back in their next life? as the OTHER race. The blacks are as guilty as the whites! NONE of them is mature enough to get over it, and it is so sad and UN-CHRISTIAN, ESPECIALLY for folks who consider themselves so "BAPTIST" or "SO" religious!!

Posted by: Maerzie | September 16, 2009 3:10 AM | Report abuse

"Obama is president in the standard way. But his illegitimacy continues to be questioned by the “birthers,” who insist he is not a native-born American, who demand to see the president’s birth certificate, and then, when they see it, insist it cannot be genuine. Neither evidence nor facts will dissuade them because they are the throes of an irrationality based on bigotry. An American president must be -- ought to be -- white."

That is a epic jump to conclusion.

Are you trying out for the '12 Olympics?

Posted by: GEAH | September 16, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

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