Lyndon Johnson was loathed enough that, in his final year in office, he dared not make a public appearance other than at a military base; it was commonplace for chanting crowds to gather and spray verbal obscenities at LBJ’s White House. Jimmy Carter’s presidency was a routine subject of cultural derision, some of it viciously aimed at his pre-teen daughter and his brother. Bill Clinton spawned so much hate that at least some of his adversaries spread strange rumors that he was connected to murder; then there was this thing called impeachment. George W. Bush inflamed some of his enemies enough that they carried signs crudely depicting him as a war criminal or a Hitler clone.
I mention all these instances of ugliness directed at presidents because they are apparently unknown to Andrew Rosenthal, a New York Times columnist, who caused a stir last week by implying that strident opposition to Barack Obama is racially motivated, and that it’s all part of a racist tide building in advance of the November elections. In fairness, Rosenthal said nothing that is not an article of faith in many liberal circles, and he at least deserves credit for saying it in the light of day and naming names. However, it’s still a lazy smear that twists recent history and is worth refuting.
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