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The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

J.C. Watts: Put Away the Race Card

Posted by iusbvision on September 28, 2009

Congressman Watts:

Polls and voting data don’t support Carter’s remarks

There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”

That comment comes from former President Jimmy Carter, which is fascinating considering Carter once ran for governor of Georgia proclaiming himself to be a “Lester Maddox Democrat.” (Maddox, a former Georgia governor, was an avowed segregationist who opposed integration under the Civil Rights Act.)

In fairness to President Carter, I do believe in redemption, and that people can change. But more and more people are inclined to say anyone who disagrees with Barack Obama must be racist.

Watts_JC_2007

J.C. Watts

It hurts me when the left and the right use race for political gain, and it depresses me further that it’s so awkward for us to talk about honestly and objectively about race. However, the implication that disagreeing with the president is racist also saddens and perplexes me.

Donna Brazile, campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000 and now a CNN analyst, nailed it when she said, “No one wins in touching race in such a shallow way. It raises defenses and creates backlash.”

The race issue blew up two weeks ago when Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., called Obama a liar on the floor of the House during the president’s address to a joint session of Congress. Although Democrats booed President Bush in that same chamber during a State of the Union a few years ago, it was still wrong for Wilson to do this.

He called the president’s chief of staff and apologized. I would have preferred he do it on the floor of the House, which is where the incident occurred.

There has always been a certain decorum in the people’s House. Boos and yelling “You lie!” are not part of that decorum.

Some try to defend one yelling “You lie!” because others boo, but two wrongs don’t make a right. Of course, we see this logic in politics from Democrats and Republicans both.

Be that as it may, was Wilson’s outburst racist? The congressman said it was not, so I take him at his word, and the opposition we’ve seen to the president’s agenda would not equate to racism based on the data released in the last year.

— President Obama did not get the majority of the white vote in 2008. Is that evidence of racism? No. This has been the case with Democrat candidates for years, including President Carter.

— President Obama did slightly better with the white vote in 2008 than John Kerry did in 2004.

— Before President Obama proposed a government takeover of the health care system, his approval rating with white voters was 57 percent.

— Between Election Day and the launch of Democrats’ health insurance reform efforts, President Obama did well with independent voters. But he has lost about 18 points with this demographic in the past two months. Most of these independent voters are white.

The data simply do not support President Carter’s claim.

Are there some people who didn’t vote for Obama because he’s black? Certainly. Just as there were some who opposed John McCain because he is white.

There are people of all colors who believe it is wrong for the government to take over our health care system.

There are people of all colors who believe we will have no choice but to ration health care when we put between 35 million and 40 million more people in the system but yet have the same number of doctors.

There are people of all colors who believe we already ration care through Medicare and Medicaid.

There are people of every color who believe it is bad economic policy to raise taxes, especially in a weak economy.

I would remind you that in the last two years of the Bush administration, conservatives were taking shots at President Bush for all his profligate spending, and it was never framed in terms other than “Republicans are mad at Bush for all the spending.”

How inconsistent that the media loved disgruntled conservatives being disenchanted with Bush, but abhor criticism of President Obama.

There are people of all colors who believe we are literally mortgaging our children’s futures with this spending spree. These people would have felt the same with if it were President Hillary Clinton, Kerry, Bill Richardson or any other president proposing the nationalization of 16 percent of our economy and spending like there’s no tomorrow.

Ironically, I wonder how President Carter would view things if it were President Clarence Thomas proposing tax relief, protection for the unborn, raising the troop levels in Afghanistan or exploring for oil right here in the United States.

As Arsenio Hall used to say, “It’s something that makes you say ‘Hmmm.’ ”

J.C. Watts (JCWatts01@jcwatts.com) is chairman of J.C. Watts Companies, a business consulting group. He is former chairman of the Republican Conference of the U.S. House, where he served as an Oklahoma representative from 1995 to 2002. He writes for the Review-Journal twice monthly.

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