I really agree with David Dayen and Baratunde Thurston (see above) in their analysis of the President releasing his long form birth certificate yesterday and what it means about the state of affairs in our country.
And I do think the spectacle of an American President having to debase himself to confront conspiracy theorists registers as a low moment in American politics and a signal of US decline. Not just because of what it says about the media, and the hash they’ve made of the public square over the years. The press is nuts, and they’re not even the press – if by that term you mean the organizations who disseminate important information to ensure a well-informed citizenry.
But more important, I think that this marks the end of anyone calling this a post-racial society. Because this entire issue revolves around race, about the alien aspect of a black man in the White House. The comments telling Obama to get off the basketball court is part and parcel of the same thing. Basically, you have a subset of this country who will never see a black man as an American.
A number of people pointed out that yesterday felt like a return to the Clinton years, where any charge against the President would be treated as valid and worthy of widespread discussion in the media. But I think Baratunde makes clear that while that is certainly happening, the racial backdrop of it happening to this President in this day is much more tragic. This isn’t about politics, it’s about race. I never bought the idea that the election of Barack Obama made America a post-racial society, but I’m sure plenty of people not only held it but were comforted by it. We have a lot of work to do and I think no small part of it will involve shaming the racists and bigots who carried out this campaign against the President and the hacks who pushed it to drive up their ratings or their bosses approval rate.