September 17th, 2009
12:30 PM ET
12 years ago

Race and politics in the age of Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Obama during the 2008 campaign faced questions over race and politics"]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Race and politics are a combustible combo that explodes into headlines when an ex-president lights the fuse, as Jimmy Carter did recently.

"When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds," the Democrat told students at Emory University on Wednesday.

"I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African-American," he added.

The controversy erupted this week when Carter first raised the race issue to NBC.

"An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man," he said.

Bill Cosby, a black comedian and actor, said Wednesday in a written statement that he agrees with Carter.

"During President Obama's speech on the status of health care reform, some members of Congress engaged in a public display of disrespect," he said.

CNN contributor David Gergen said that some of the allegations of race-baiting might have some weight among Democratic voters.

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Filed under: President Carter • President Obama
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Neutralizer

    You use race card with IMPUNITY against Hillary, sooooooo cut the crap! The American people are finally seeing what you really are! You pulled the race card against Hillary Clinton and ADMIT during debate in Nevada you know what your campaigners were doing, but you NEVER stop them instead you ENCOURAGE them to do it thru people like Clyburn. Every time democraps accuse ANYONE of being racist or bigot because they don't agree with your policies killing our country, turning it into Sri Lanka; your party is LOSING support from thinking Americans who give you the chance to prove you're fit to lead this country. So far, you're quite a disappointment. 2012 can't some soon enough!

    September 17, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. victim of republican greed

    It is a waste of time to try to explain to a wingnut that we are all created equal. I do have to say, attacks on a person's character sure does get that republican base fired up and gets them to open up their purses. If not, we would see Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck standing in line at a soup kitchen.

    September 17, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. obama the liar

    there will always be racism with the CBC allowed to rant.

    September 17, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. shucks

    Who is anyone kidding. Racism is alive and well in the Good Ole USA. But it is not only against blacks, it is against all nationalities that aren't white anglo, christian, members of the NRA, and republican. And that is a FACT!!

    September 17, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. That's racist

    When Democrats criticize RNC Chair Michael Steele does that make them racist?

    September 17, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  6. Denis - Toronto

    Unfortunately that is the reality of US politics which has not changed for hundreds of years.

    Colour, race, religion, gender or sexual preferrance should never be a factor in politics but it is the politicians who use it by preying on the weakness and hidden fears of weak minded people to advance their own agendas, be it for greed, power fame or fortune.

    These Politicians are by no means exclusively white and male that use the weaknesses of the public but unfortunately as history shows, a significant number of those politicans that revert to its use are from that demographic. Prejudice is practiced by every race as well as other demographic groups. It is so SICK when you think that all President Obama is trying to achieve is to improve the lives of all Americans. Oh I am white Male Middle-aged, Catholic and Conservative supporter.

    September 17, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. mike

    To an extent, I believe race has played a part in some fringe groups in the attacks against President Obama. However, I also feel that race played an importent part in the disrespect of President Bush. The Bush administration was accused of shooting blacks in New Orleans, and many individuals claimed the relief effort in New Orleans was slow to respond because Bush hates blacks. Pathetic. However, one should be able to disagree with a Presidents policy without being called a racist. If voicing your displeasure over a particular president or policy is racism, then I guess we are all racists.

    September 17, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. chad in avery, ca.

    its a great day in america!
    carter is ripped apart for calling the kettle black and cheney gets free elective surgery on the taxpayers dollar!
    wake up people!
    the right is using hate and lies to trick us into thinking public healthcare is bad for everyone except richies like cheney!
    (and he can aford his own insurance)

    September 17, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. Roland

    What does Bill Cosby's concurrence have to do with anything? I'd rather hear it from Colin Powell or someone of that stature.

    September 17, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  10. Ron

    So sick of this race bating crap I could puke. It appears to be a tactic of last resort. The vast majority of people in this country are scared and fed up. Race has nothing to do with it. Personally I don't care if the Prez is black, white, green, purple, orange or striped. What matters is heart, integrity, and doing what is right for the MAJORITY of the people he or she was hired to represent. Clearly this President has a background with questionable associations and morals and has very little experience for the role he is in.

    President Carter, the worst President we have had in my lifetime, needs to continue his humanitarian work and fade off into the political sunset.

    Think about it, the numbers just don't add up. How could a country with a black population of less than 15% elect a president solely on the black vote. This President had and has support from all races.
    To claim that Rep. Wilson's remark was racist is crazy. It is more a lack of faith in the President's level of integrity.

    September 17, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. Ed from the western slope of Colorado

    Good for Jimmy Carter for speaking out. The hatred that is abounding from the nut cases out there is totally racist and Mr. Carter has the where with all to finally address this sad issue it when the media and pretty much everyone else sticks their collective heads in the sand.

    We surely wouldn't want to offend the Beck/Hannity/Limbaugh crowd, now would we.

    September 17, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. Rick in OP

    When a Liberal is losing a debate their tactic of last resort is to accuse their opponents of racism. In the past they could get away with this. The American public witnessed the Liberals attempt to use this ploy earlier this year during the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. episode. The tactic backfired on them, hurting Obama. It is going to backfire again.

    Get a new playbook, we are no longer falling for the old tricks.

    September 17, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    Carter says: PERSONAL attacks on the POTUS are motivated in part by racism.

    GOP claims: Carter said opposition to the POTUS' policies is racist.

    Media says: Let's pretend there's a legitimate controversy and that the GOP isn't blatantly mischaracterizing what Carter said so we can drum up viewership and clicks and justify our advertising prices.

    September 17, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. Ken in Gainesville

    It is indeed unfortunate that race has played such a pivotal role in the current culture wars debate. The climate, particularly in the Confederacy, has become extremely nasty. America is changing, and the good old boys and girls can't stand it. Yet they can do nothing about it except to name call and promote violence. I fear they will get their wish, as some looney Beck-Hannity-Limbaugh birther responds to the call. Cooler heads are no where to be found, and the media keeps up the hype for ratings. We cannot expect our children to act civil-minded if their parents are frothing at the mouth. Know-nothingism is not dead in America, and now it has a megaphone and star power. Be careful what you wish for, conservatives, you might just get it.

    September 17, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  15. Bj

    I'd say there's two old fools who are looking for an excuse for OBama's unpopular policies (at least with a good portion of the public).
    Why don't you quit using the race card every time someone disagrees with Obama's policies. You are creating animosity (and dare I say it, racism) by continually bring up this accusation. Most of us don't care whether Obama is white, black, yellow, or green for that matter. We don't like the liberal's policies.

    September 17, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Willy Brown

    Race is brought to you by the democrats because facts just get in the way.

    September 17, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. SM

    Carter is an idiot.... does anyone really listen to him. I dislike Obama because of his views and the direction he is taking this country. I dont care if he was orange white purple or red, I still do not like him!!!!!!!!

    September 17, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. Di

    This has nothing to do with race. It Obamas policy! The demonstrators are using metaphors! There not enough Blacks and Spanish voters in America to elect Obama, do the math!

    September 17, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  19. Debby

    I find the most racist people are the ones who keep preaching about it over and over.

    September 17, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. N

    "public display of disrespect" translates into racism how?

    September 17, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. Never Repub again

    I say lets vote the disrespectful hypocrites out of office. Thats why I am donating regularly to the DNC. Repub retards have held up our country's progress long enough and I am tired of it. Join me in trying to make Texas a blue state. Rick Perry and the Bush cronies dont care about anything but lining their pockets.

    If something happens to Obama there will be blood in the streets. Believe that.

    September 17, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  22. T Mckinley

    I was raised by a white Southerner. I know first hand how many white Southerners think and feel about African Americans. I grew up constantly hearing African Americans called just about every name in the book. If I were to even mention some of the things I heard said about blacks when I was growing up, this post would certainly be rejected.

    I am very saddened and disappointed that many of my fellow Euro-Americans simply cannot and will not accept African Americans as equals. I thought that by now, by 2009, we would be over this nonsense.

    While I didn't think Jimmy Carter was a very good President, and while he has taken positions on some issues that I cannot agree with, he is absolutely correct on THIS issue. Much of the opposition to Barack Obama being President IS because he is black.

    A lifetime of being exposed to Southern white racism toward blacks leaves me with no other conclusion.

    September 17, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. Desmond Starr

    Could it be that those who seem to inject racism into every aspect of our lives and beliefs, are actually subtle racists themselves....
    See more at

    September 17, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. hereslaughingatyou

    Dear Heavingly Father....Lord of all Lords, stop the racial hating of all groups. Help all our nations heal for negative emotions. Show our leaders and their people how to smile once again. 🙂

    September 17, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. Elsa

    Blacks had to suffer colonisation and slavery . "You lie" will kill him but will make him stronger. God bless THE PRESIDENT Obama.

    September 17, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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