Looking back now, I was likely beginning my journey to leaving the Republican Party on September 9, 2009, when Barack Obama was addressing a Joint Session of Congress and Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, shouted “you lie” in the middle of the president’s address.
The president looked in the direction of the shout, calmly said, “it's not true” and continued. The House rebuked Wilson a week later, but notably that vote came on party lines, and the tone had been set.
The next year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." The year after that, Donald Trump joined the so-called Birthers “just asking” whether the first black president was even really an American at all.
Republicans have kept attacking Obama ever since, even after he left office—smearing him, violating him, demanding that he “show his papers.”
Obama has, remarkably kept his cool despite the verbal assaults and attacks, but after he was reported to have said on a private phone call last week that Trump was threatening the “rule of law” and that his response to the coronavirus had been “an absolute chaotic disaster,” Trump has doubled and tripled his attacks on his predecessor and his administration, calling them “traitors” and “human scum.”
McConnell, Trump’s lapdog, told Trump’s daughter in law, Lara Trump, that Obama was “a little bit classless,” and instructed him to “keep his mouth shut.” He didn’t say “boy, stay in your place” but he didn’t have to. The people who belong to Trump and McConnell’s Republican Party know damn well what he meant there, and made no real effort to mask.
It was hardly the first time. In the midst of the 2008 election, McConnell mocked Obama as underqualified, if you catch his drift, and said “This is the big leagues now. At what point do you turn off the demagoguery and become a serious, responsible leader?” Then-Congressman Geoff Davis, speaking at the same Lincoln Day dinner in Kentucky then called Obama “that boy.”
Here is what I have to say to the whole nasty, racist lot of them: President Barack Obama is a self-made man, who has been married to one woman his entire adult life. His daughters are in college, and are beautiful young women. He has never been sued, he has never gone bankrupt, he has never questioned Trump or anyone else’s American citizenship, he has never paid off a porn star, or bragged about how badly he treats women. Eight years of his presidency and not one personal scandal, indictment or impeachment trial. Barack and Michelle Obama are the epitome of grace, class, respect, and American pride.
Trump, on the other hand, is a nasty, aggrieved, petulant, racist, sexist, bigoted, bitter, childish, rage-tweeting ignoramus, all silver spoons and bone spurs, who has embarrassed this country, endangered our national security by trying to shake down the President of Ukraine, and has now overseen the deaths of more than 80,000 Americans with his pathetic handling of the pandemic.
There is a reason that these white men hate Obama. No lawmaker shouts at a white president while he is addressing the congress. No senator tells a white former president to “keep his mouth shut.” And no sitting president attacks a predecessor in the viciously personal way that Trump has continuously attacked Obama.
The Republican Party of Trump and McConnell is a party for white men who are personally offended by the very existence of a strong, smart, educated and successful black man who stands on his own. It’s a disgrace.