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Obama bashing takes its toll on political dialogue

by Alan Markow, published

Are we tired of the constant petty attacks by the opposition over everything small or insignificant thing the president does?  I suppose this would be fine if we were talking about substantive policy matters, but that’s not the case.  The other day, Obama went shopping for Christmas presents for his family and even for his dog.  Eric Cantor attacked him and said that the president (and his dog) should have been at the capitol instead.

Last year, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow complained that the president’s hug with departing chief of staff Rahm Emanuel “lacked dignity” and “did not send a message of American power and forcefulness.”  You’ve got to be kidding me.  Maybe a football-style slap on the rear end would have communicated a mightier message to our allies and enemies.

Then there was the complaint last March by a blogger on American Thinker that the president was golfing while the Japanese people were fighting to recover from a massive earthquake and tsunami.  Did the blogger think the president should have flown to Japan to personally help with the recovery?  Does no one remember President Eisenhower – the constant golfer?

As Doug Mataconis wrote in a March “Outside the Beltway” column:

“…spending your time criticizing the President’s leisure activities isn’t solid political analysis, it’s the same sort of political hackery that Michael Moore and others on the left engaged in when they made the same criticisms of President Bush, and it tells the world that you have nothing of substance to say other than I hate that guy because he’s a Democrat/Republican.”

In all fairness, I believe Obama has received more inane criticism from the right than Bush ever received from the left.  Just this past week, Brent Bozell of Fox News said that Obama looked like a “skinny, ghetto crackhead.”  Admittedly, Bozell was responding to a ridiculous comment by Chris Matthews of MSNBC who said that Newt Gingrich looked “like a car bomber,” but Matthews’ remarks didn’t justify a snarky and clearly racist statement about the President of the United States.

Another example is Charles Krauthammer’s recent recommendation that Republicans campaign against the president on the claim the Obama “apologizes for America,” saying "it's a line of attack that Republicans can easily use on the president and ought to use on the president."

This charge has been disproven time and time again by watchdog organizations such as Media Matters and Politifact, and it is never made against Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who carries out the president’s diplomatic strategy.  In fact, it’s more an attempt to limit Obama’s freedom to negotiate for the U.S. than it is a substantive argument.  But it has been used since the president first stepped out on the world stage and began to pull the U.S. back from a highly confrontational style of diplomacy prevalent in the Bush-Cheney years.

Among the most common, but unsupportable criticisms of the president is that he is anti-Israel.  After all, this is the president who succeeded in keeping the Palestinians out of the United Nations.  The attacks have undoubtedly been to the benefit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right wing coalition as well as the far right of American politics, but they are simply not accurate.

Here’s how New York Times columnist and Middle East expert Thomas Friedman put it while speaking on PBS’ Charlie Rose Show in June:

"You can say what you want, all of these American Jews criticizing Obama. 'He's anti-Israel.' It's all crap, okay. Can I say that on your show? It is pure crap. The guy is trying to do the right thing. He's not anti-Israel, he's not anti-Semitic. It's all nonsense," Friedman said.

Our own report here last week on Jackie Mason’s attack on Obama’s Chanukah celebration is just one more example of nonsensical criticism of the president that is unrelated to any real or substantive political or diplomatic issue.

And do we need to bring up the birth certificate brouhaha that Donald Trump is still trying to keep alive?

If we’re going to have a substantive dialogue about the president’s policies, it must start with something that the outrageous criticizers lack:  respect.

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