Commentary Magazine


Wonder Where They Got That Idea?

Nicholas Kristof complains about the campaign to “otherize” Barack Obama. While conceding that the McCain camp hasn’t done this, the implication is clear: those mean Republicans are up to no good. And weren’t they really suggesting he’s the Antichrist?

Well, no. The “otherness” is, I would suggest, almost entirely of Obama’s own making. First, he’s gone to pains to separate himself from his fellow citizens. He’s a citizen of the world, we were told in Berlin. And Bittergate reveals that he observes his fellow Americans as one would an odd tribe in a foreign land. And, of course, he never fails to remind us that he has (in his own words) a “funny name” and that he “doesn’t look like other Presidents.”

Moreover, by defending the oddest associations–with a hatemongering preacher and former terrorist Bill Ayers–as “ordinary” Obama has simply perpetuated the view that he travels in circles which he may find unexceptional but which everyone else in the country doesn’t. It’s hard to convince ordinary voters that it is “ordinary” to befriend someone who conspired to kill his fellow citizens.

But it is really the MSM and the liberal punditocracy that hype this issue. They suggest that “skinny” means black, that every criticism or compliment has a racial connotation. They can’t help but accuse Americans of harboring base racial views. Assigning bigoted feelings to Americans has become a cottage industry in the Left blogosphere.

So if Americans think that Obama is somehow different from the average American, perhaps it is because Obama and his presumably well-meaning Leftist friends have been telling them that for nigh-on two years. You can hardly blame them if they’ve come to believe it.