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Posted by on Feb 9, 2014 in At TMV | 19 comments

10 Obama Myths

The Washington Post lists ten myths about President Barack Obama. Dana Milbank has thoughts on why these flagrant falsehoods still thrive.

Obama conspiracy theories have flourished in the Deep South, where wealth and educational levels are both low. This makes sense: Where voters are least informed, they are most susceptible to misinformation peddled by talk-radio hosts and the like. For this reason, voters in reliably Republican states, which tend to be poorer, with lower test scores, are more vulnerable to misinformation. To use one measure, the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress test of eighth-grade reading, all but one of the top 10 states were in Obama’s column in 2012. Of the 19 doing worse than average, 14 were red states.

“Obama derangement syndrome is running pretty high right now among a certain segment of the Republican base,” Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, told me. “There’s a certain segment of people who say, ‘If you’re going to give me the opportunity to stick it to Obama, I’m going to take it.’?” In other words, a large number of that 29 percent who said Obama was responsible for the Katrina response knew that he wasn’t but saw it as a chance to register their displeasure with the president. Obama has driven a large number of Republican voters — Jensen puts it at 15 to 20 percent of the overall electorate — right off their rockers.

The ten myths about the President:

  1. Obama was responsible for the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
  2. Obama hates white people.
  3. Obama is a socialist.
  4. Obamacare will raise insurance costs for consumers.
  5. Death panels are a part of Obamacare.
  6. Obama is a bigger spender than Bush.
  7. Obama is welfare obsessed.
  8. Obama is Muslim.
  9. Obama was not born in the United States.
  10. Obama is coming for your guns.

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

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  • JSpencer

    Where voters are least informed, they are most susceptible to misinformation peddled by talk-radio hosts and the like.

    And there are a lot of people who want to keep it that way – whether by intent or negligence. The tolerance for wrongheaded attitudes in this country amounts to a celebration of ignorance.

  • Momzworld

    I’ve lived in Florida for 46 years in a Red county where there is a lot of the Old South among the people I know. The quote from Tom Jensen hits the nail on the head for how things are in this area. I have “good Christian” friends who send me some of the nastiest e-mails I’ve ever read about anyone. I tried refuting them for a while, finally asked that they not send me political e-mails at all, only to have one shot my way from time to time. I don’t believe it matters one whit whether the information they pass along is true. It’s purely a “stick it to Obama” drive within them that makes it o.k. to say whatever will diminish him. Behind it all is the deep seated belief that they, the white ones, should not be ruled by a black man. I’ve been told that’s a cop out. No matter. That’s where I believe this is coming from. Some of it might be ignorance — maybe.

  • I live in Texas, Momz, and observe the same thing. I know a number of smart, well-educated people who nonetheless cling to demonstrably false beliefs about the President, particularly that he is a socialist. As Ezra Klein has written, if that is true then he is an extremely ineffective one.

    I can see no other explanation than that their reason is overwhelmed by an emotional response to his race.

  • sheknows

    I tend to agree with both Momz and Ballard. There seems to be little rational explanation for the wild things people are willing to believe about this president.

    Of course we have had many called “socialists”..FDR comes to mind, but the rest of the nonsense comes from some deeper place that is hidden under a rock of human fear and prejudice.

  • rudi
  • cjjack

    I can see no other explanation than that their reason is overwhelmed by an emotional response to his race.

    I think it is a little more nuanced than just that one factor. To be sure, there was bound to be some backlash against the first Black President, and we’ve seen that to a disappointing degree, but there’s more to it than just the expected racism.

    Obama represents so many things that traditional conservatives fear that his race is almost secondary. On the race front, it is worth noting that he’s not just black…he’s African-American in every sense of the word. His father was from Kenya, and his mother was American. There is a segment of the population that views mixed-race folks as even worse than simple ethnic minorities.

    One step away from that is his “foreign sounding” name. At least the minorities in the GOP have the decency to have American-sounding names like “Ted” and “Bobby.” Hussein? That’s a bridge too far.

    Then there’s the fact that he went to Harvard. Lots of conservatives went to Harvard or other Ivy League schools, but for some reason if you’ve got that big “D” next to your name and a degree from such a “liberal” institution, you’re damaged goods as far as the GOP is concerned.

    He traveled abroad as a youth, but it wasn’t missionary work, so his overseas adventures are naturally suspect.

    He worked as a lawyer. Again, admirable if you’re conservative, dangerous if you’re a liberal.

    His religion? Let’s be honest…the deepest insight most Americans have into what goes on in predominately black churches is that one scene from “The Blues Brothers.”

    Whisk all these things together with the fact that the GOP has been at somewhat of a loss as far as convenient enemies are concerned since the end of the Cold War, and you’ve got a recipe for someone to personify that which they need to fear.

  • Fair points, cj. The things about Obama that Republicans fear is his status as the hated/feared “other” in the multiple ways you mention. Modern day conservatism (as opposed to the classical Burkean version) seems to be based in hatred/fear of the “other.” However, the “otherness” the GOP base responds to so negatively may not be just race per se, but, psychologically it isn’t far away. Race is just a particularly emotionally loaded form of otherness.

    One you left out, though it is closely related to his Harvard education, is the fact that Obama is clearly a lot smarter than most of his detractors. His filleting of the standard GOP talking points while speaking as a guest at the House GOP retreat a few years ago was classic.

  • JSpencer

    Obama is clearly a lot smarter than most of his detractors.

    Right, and that is truly unforgivable.

  • bluebelle

    The myths are perpetuated because so many are heavily invested in the public believing them. Who would buy all the anti-Obama books or would have watched D’nesh D’Souza’s Obama’s America if they didn’t suspect some or all of these things? There’s a huge industry built around creating a false image that the conservative community can then continuously be outraged about. The image that seems to sell the best is one of lawlessness (no coincidence that all the Repubs have fit this word into media interviews whenever possible!) and deceit. I would bet that a good chunk of conservatives also believe that Obama purposely wants to destroy America as we know it and turn us into a 3rd world country.
    Another point: I believe that most members of Congress have come to realize that Obama is reasonable, moderate and flexible– nothing like the ideological far left liberal that he has been portrayed as. When they warn about his socialism or tell their constituents that the ACA is an existential threat, however, the phones start ringing and their campaign coffers start filling up. It is to their distinct advantage not to work with him, be seen with him or correct a constituent who thinks he’s a Kenyan socialist Muslim.

  • Obama is clearly a lot smarter than most of his detractors.

    High IQ doesn’t mean you are smart. “Common sense is not so common”. Being able to learn from failure is as important as focusing on intelligence quotient. If you have been imbedded with physicians and attorneys it’s common to see that the most successful (not highest IQ) were often the “C” students. They deal with people very well.

  • sheknows

    Obama is a target for all the reasons mentioned, and that is strategically important for the Reps.
    I believe they know they are failing..both as a political party and as a viable solution for 21st century problems.

    Rather than change…which they cannot because in truth, their ideology serves no purpose for this century; they must find a reason to explain their failure.
    Obama provides the perfect scapegoat.

    They have become so inept at leadership and direction, it has left them vulnerable to infection by more opportunistic factions like the Tea party.

    IMO, the GOP is trying to give the party impetus once more by uniting against a common enemy….one that they created like an alien invasion to bind them all together.

  • bluebelle

    Kevin – with all due respect, those you are dealing with have to be willing to meet you at least part way. I don’t think that the problem is that Obama is unable to deal with people- I think its that the people he has to deal with have a predetermined position that is set in stone. There are quite a few conservative groups like Club for Growth or Heritage Action that pressure congressional Republicans not to work with Obama. Those that have, even on very general issues have found themselves facing a primary opponent funded by one or more of them.

    A lot of people expected him to be more like Bill Clinton, but I don’t think the two parties were as polarized back then and compromise was not yet considered a deadly sin

  • those you are dealing with have to be willing to meet you at least part way.

    We agree on that, bluebelle. It stinks.

    He has three years to show us what he has learned (use the pen and phone).

  • bluebelle

    Kevin -as long as it is in the GOP’s best self-interest to oppose whatever he is for, gridlock will continue for 3 more years. Every time some rightie calls him lawless, hints at impeachment or says that we can’t trust him, they collect more in PAC money. Staunch opposition is the name of the game, not co-operation.

  • Yes. We are saying the same thing. I am good with him using the pen and phone if it is appropriate. As well, three years is a long time. It would be nice to see him spend more face to face time with D and R congress members. I know its not his preference but it would be nice to see him work the crowd in congress. Some are tired of the road show. Hunker down and work in house.

  • dduck

    What KP said.

  • bluebelle

    If the GOP is dead set against voting with Obama or working towards compromise will it really make any difference or just be good for optics? He may consider it a waste of time if their votes are predetermined.
    For example, are Republicans REALLY willing to work with him or would they rather just blame him for the stalled immigration bill- ? (said with much skepticism)
    Hint: if they are willing, all these mentions of “lawlessness” aren’t helpful

  • JSpencer

    With a GOP fervently dedicated to the belief that working with the president (on anything) is inherently bad how can it ever be part of the solution? That’s like driving down the highway simultaneously pressing brake and accelerator and expecting decent performance.

  • A President should press flesh and try. He has three long years.

    At the very least with the Dems.

    “Eddie Would Go”

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