G.O.P. Uses Obama ‘Otherness’ as Campaign Tactic





The latest controversy over Mr. Obama’s identity involves — once again — Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, who this week accused Mr. Obama, whose father was a Kenyan economist and spoke out against the occupying force in his country, of exhibiting “Kenyan, anticolonial behavior.” Mr. Gingrich was shorthanding an essay in Forbes by the conservative theorist Dinesh D’Souza, who, in exploring Mr. Obama’s attitudes toward business, settled on the theory that Mr. Obama was taking directions from the anticorporate apparition of his long-departed father. (That Mr. Obama never really knew his father is apparently beside the point.)...

This cultural critique of Mr. Obama — a general portrayal of otherness based on his age and ideology, his upbringing and, inescapably, his race — is reminiscent of similar attacks on Bill Clinton, whom 1990s-era conservatives reveled in depicting as a symbol of the socially permissive, self-indulgent hippie left....

Going back to the 1960s, the modern conservative movement has been an amalgam of three distinct factions: the champions of free enterprise, the foreign policy types often described as neoconservatives, and the social conservatives who became the spine of the party’s grass-roots campaign apparatus.

It was a fear of communism that nicely unified all of these groups in the cold war years. The Soviet Union and its satellites were Marxist in their economic outlook, expansionist in their foreign policy and defiantly godless in their culture. Stan Lee could not have dreamed up a more perfect nemesis around which Republicans could coalesce....


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