The Corner

When Your Name is Barack Obama . . .

You can always count on your fans cheering no matter how absurd your comments.

Watching the video from The View, it is hard to know what Obama meant by the line. Noah’s right that it didn’t sound like he was claiming the forces of bigotry are always going to make things difficult for a guy named “Barack Obama,” though that’s how it reads on paper. If that is what he meant, it’s an awfully uncharitable description of the country he is supposed to be representing and leading. The forces of bigotry could only make the election tight if they exist in sufficient numbers to constrain the share of votes available to a black president with a “foreign” sounding name. Is that really something the man who gave that One America speech in 2004 wants to be saying? It’s also pretty ludicrous given that he had the biggest margin of victory for a Democrat in nearly a half century.

Joy Behar clearly thought that’s what he meant — why else throw in the bit about his middle name? Behar’s attitude is precisely that sort of smug self-righteousness that will hurt Obama in this election. Recycling the tired narrative that voting for Obama is a way to prove you’re not a bigot won’t work the way it did in 2008 because Obama actually has a record now. His presidency isn’t an abstraction, it’s something people have lived with.

Obama recognizes this, at least a little, which is why he went on to talk about the real reason this election will be tight: People are deeply dissatisfied with the state of the country.

As for the other possible interpretation, that things are “cool” when Obama’s on the ticket, this is at best a juvenile argument for reelecting him. It would be interesting to know what the people in the audience thought Obama meant when they cheered his comment like a bunch of Justin Bieber fans.

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