The Racism Behind Boehner's Threats to Sue Obama

First, the Republicans were gleeful that the Democratic Party had nominated a black man whose middle name was Hussein to run for president. They figured beating him would be a cakewalk, and didn't even get too upset when John McCain picked a fringe politician from Alaska as his running mate.

After all, Obama was black and his middle name was Hussein – how could they lose even if their nominee was an elderly crank and their vice presidential nominee was a former sports reporter on local television?

But Obama won and the disrespect began. Congressman Joe Wilson shouted "you lie" during a presidential Joint Address to Congress.

Rumors circulated in the far right blogs that the president was secretly born in Kenya, and therefore wasn't even legitimately President of the United States. He wasn't even a legitimate citizen. After all, he was black.

The question on the minds of so many Republicans was, "What is that black man doing in our White House?"

So they spent the first four years questioning the legitimacy of his even being in office, all the while doing everything they could to prevent him from having any significant successes legislatively.

Then, after he won reelection, their obstruction went into overdrive. And he said,"I have a pen and I'm going to use it."

The argument that this black man was illegitimate had been largely relegated to the fringes by this point, so now a new variation on the argument emerged.

While he may actually have a birth certificate and legitimately be president, his behaviors are illegitimate!

And so, even though this president has issued fewer executive orders then any president since Grover Cleveland, House Speaker and Republican Congressman John Boehner intends to sue him for his illegitimate actions as president.

In John Boehner's memo to his colleagues in Congress he even mentioned how horrified he and his white colleagues were that this black man would dare take such powers. He wrote, " times [Obama is] even boasting about his willingness to do it, as if daring the American people to stop him."

It was no coincidence, back in 1980, that the first speech that Ronald Reagan made after he was nominated as the Republican Party's candidate for president, was in a little town of 7,000 people in rural Mississippi. Reagan's opening speech kicking off his presidential campaign, was near Philadelphia, Mississippi – the very town where back in 1964, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, were brutally murdered.

And to make sure that all the right-wing white racists got the message, the substance of Reagan's first campaign speech was "States' Rights."

This new attack by John Boehner on President Obama's legitimacy as president of United States is nothing more than an extension of the earlier Republican Birther attack.

Only this time it adds in the very real probability of causing the president much more inconvenience and expense than simply producing a birth certificate. Much like when Bill Clinton was impeached, Obama is now going to be tied up for the last two years of his presidency dealing with courts and lawsuits, and this may go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Not only do Republicans have no shame, but they very definitely know how to speak in "dog whistle language" to the white racists they picked up when they flipped the South Republican after LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. 
One of the biggest benefits of white privilege is that white people never, ever wonder if something has happened because of the color of their skin (from restaurant tables to jobs to taxis to apartments to just having doors held or not).  And so many white people won't immediately "get" what I'm suggesting here, and the largely white right-wing websites will say I've gone over the edge. 

But if the callers to my radio show are any indication, most people of color in this country know exactly what Boehner's lawsuit is all about.  

In his memo to his Republican colleagues, he talks about the (mostly white Republican) crowds that he visits when he travels around America, and says: "Everywhere I go in America outside of Washington DC, I'm asked: when will the House stand up on behalf of the people to stop the encroachment of executive power under President  Obama? We elected a president, Americans note; we didn't elect a monarch or king." 
He could just as easily have said, "This guy has really gotten way too uppity!" 

This is not the kind of language John Boehner would be using if Barack Obama was white. 
Even when Republicans pushed back on FDR's executive orders, and called him a communist or a socialist, they never questioned his legitimacy to be the president of the United States, or tried suing him over the legitimacy of his ability as president to take the actions he did.
But then came Lee Atwater helping run the Reagan campaign, and the whole Nixon Southern Strategy got far more sophisticated.  As Atwater said, Republicans no longer have to say the N-word in order to dog-whistle to white racists:
You start out in 1954 by saying, 'Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can’t say 'nigger'—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'Nigger, nigger.'
Boehner has gone a mile too far, and it's time for us all to realize that this is just a repeat of the Atwater strategy, that the Birther hysteria was the same thing, and call out the real agenda here.

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