There are many reasons why Republicans don't like Barack Obama. Today, on the inauguration of the re-elected president, I remembered three that seem important in understanding the conservatives’ great demoralization.
1) Barack Obama is a faux-centrist.
Faced with a Republican House of Representatives, Bill Clinton governed while making compromises. He had a pragmatic attitude. Bill Clinton was a centrist. He liked to negotiate. In the Republicans’ eyes, Barack Obama is a real leftist. His way of voting in the senate while he represented Illinois amply shows that he was not at all a centrist at that time.
But Barack Obama's social-democratic ideas were not enough to make the Republicans red with rage, as they are nowadays. What makes them so upset is that the president continues to take the middle ground in his discourse and appear like a centrist. Yet for all that, he doesn't negotiate with the Republicans; he lets Joe Biden do it for him. He's not holding out his hand to the Republicans. He ridicules them. And it works!
Thus, he prefers to concentrate on what he does best: give speeches in which he maintains, for example, that he is looking for “a balanced solution” to deficit reduction. He speaks of nothing but raising taxes on millionaires. He promises to defend the middle class. Nothing that he says resembles the people's cry for a Democratic or black leader. Barack Obama is a perfect example of reason, moderation and racial harmony. Yet he still has not proposed real reductions in public spending: He only speaks of raising taxes.
The Republicans are convinced that, at heart, Barack Obama is an extremist who hides himself — by opportunism, calculating niceness and necessity — behind centrist rhetoric to advance a much more radical cause: the final denaturation of the capitalist system in order to put the American public in a definitive state of dependence on the state. In sum, Obama would like Americans to be like Europeans: People who like raised taxes, weak growth, omnipresent regulation and the power of the public regarding everything — from health care to schooling, including roads, how much energy cars use, the promotion of homosexuality as something "normal"...
[The Republicans] have as proof the absence of a single person with long, successful experience in the private sector among Obama's White House entourage. The trade unions that played a key role in the president's re-election would be on the point of reaping the fruits of their financial support: businesses will pay, bosses will be punished and the rich will finally be put in their place.
Obamacare would be the best example of the leftist president’s tactic to corrupt America long-term: Barack Obama would have accepted a precarious reform that requires Americans, or their employers, to insure themselves with private companies, knowing that the resulting explosion of premiums today will drive them into the arms of the “true reform” that he has always wanted tomorrow: that which nationalizes medicine and health insurance.
2) Barack Obama would be untouchable.
Because he is both black and white, Barack Obama is untouchable. Blacks consider him one of their own, while many whites with a bad conscience realize that he is a transracial example that they admire and that soothes them. Yes, thanks to Obama, America could become post-racial. The Republicans don't believe a word of it. But they admit with horror that Hollywood, the academic world and most of the written and spoken press have fallen into the trap.
Yet still, this wouldn’t make them sick if the consequence of this situation didn’t immediately turn them into suspected racists as soon as they emit a single criticism of the president or his politics.
For today's conservative, it's become almost politically impossible to criticize President Obama without seeming like a racist reactionary manipulated by rich lobbyists. The opposition feels itself deprived of all moral elements. "Good" is exclusively represented by the modern, multiracial president. The opposition is [good old boys] who want to keep their war weapons to defend a segregated America.
Republicans are shocked. They have the impression that today it's impossible to be respectable if one is white, Republican, Christian and heterosexual. The money they've earned from their work has become dirty. They must give it to the state — which knows how to redistribute it.
3) Barack Obama rides the illusion of debt without hardship.
Groggy with defeat, the Republicans have discovered an uncomfortable reality: An unbelievable debt that supports mediocre growth has, at this moment, NO consequence on the level of interest rates or inflation.
Talk of fiscal orthodoxy rings hollow. To shout that the public debt's 45 percent increase since 2008 will push America into ruin doesn't make the average American afraid. It's already been four years since the Republicans began saying that the president's politics of revival and the Fed’s (unprecedented) monetary policies are going to kill the dollar and set prices ablaze. This has not happened.
It is difficult to believe that America is on the cusp of collapse: Uncle Sam is borrowing at negative rates!
The IMF, rating agencies, the Europeans and most people in finance had better explain that this situation will not continue... they had better ask that mid- and long-term, credible measures be put in place to reduce the debt. At the moment, nothing has happened and nobody is a victim.
To dampen spirits, Republicans recall that today every young American comes into the world bearing $52,000 worth of public debt. Who cares? The president is handsome and elegant, he speaks well and is convincing. He defends the middle class. Against him are only "angry old white men" like John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, or Rush Limbaugh, "talk radio's" king.
It's true that, with defeat, the Republicans seem more and more like a caricature of themselves.
Hypnotized by the idea of Obama-the-moderate, the middle class is overjoyed to believe that without sacrifice they can get out of the dramatic debt in which they find themselves. The others, the rich, the profiteers, will foot the bill.