Peter – I’ll just throw in my two cents on this. You constantly hear this suggestion that racism drives the disrespect aimed at Obama. As a bunch of us have written many times around here, I think this is for the most part nonsense.
From where I’m sitting, Obama has been treated more politely by the majority of his political opponents than any president since at least George H.W. Bush. Obviously, there are examples going the other way. The “you lie!” moment being one of the better ones. But when you look at how Obama is discussed at the highest levels of American media and politics, he is for the most part treated with remarkable deference from his opponents and with unearned respect from the rest. The creepy spiritual awe has died down, but the weird conviction that Obama’s problems all stem from his personal strengths — he’s too smart! he’s too dignified! he’s too reasonable! — or from the sins of his enemies remains.
Obviously one source of the confusion is the cosmopolitan bigotry of liberals who assume their political opposites must be racists. But I think it’s also a product of their own blinkered reverence for Obama. If you see him as doing everything right and great, if you think he’s the smartest president ever, then criticism of him cannot be based on the merits and run of the mill political criticism and philosophical dissent must be based in something more sinful and irrational. It’s just another version of the bitter-clingers idiocy. If you don’t like Obama the fault lies in you.