It's too bad that the first black president wasn't a conservative.
Not that there wouldn't have been charges of racism and some actual racism, too. But it would have finally dispelled the old myth about the racist Right and the tolerant Left.
As it is, many liberals who once complained about being labeled unpatriotic for their vituperative opposition to George W. Bush are suggesting that anyone who opposes the policies of President Obama is a racist.
Jimmy Carter, who at age 85 has still not tired of inflicting damage to his own party, suggested in an MSNBC interview that the broad-based opposition that has met Obama's proposals is racist.
“I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country,” Carter scolded. “It's an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”
I wonder, then, how Carter explains his own failed presidency and the gales of resistance that met his proposals. I doubt it was because his secretary of Health and Human Services and ambassador to the United Nations were black. More likely, it was just Carter's dithering.
There are people who oppose Obama's programs who are also racists. And there were racists who opposed President Bush's policies. Consider the cartoons of Condoleezza Rice as a black mammy and accusations that Colin Powell was an Uncle Tom.
Opposition to the Iraq war was no less real because some liberals were racist. It would have been a good topic for some brave African-American studies department, but it didn't have anything to do with Iraq.
The basis for many Democratic claims of racism is the “birther” movement that holds Obama was not born in the United States.
The Democratic survey firm Public Policy Polling found that 24 percent of Americans don't think that Obama was born in the United States. Some thought he was born in the Indonesia of his youth and some thought he was born in his father's native Kenya.
In a 2007 Rasmussen Reports poll, 22 percent of Americans — including 39 percent of Democrats — believed that Bush knew about, but did not stop, the 9/11 attacks. Disgraced “green jobs czar” Van Jones wasn't an outlier, but part of a bloc of liberals who thought Bush committed or allowed mass murder.
You could find 22 percent of Americans who believe that aliens have visited Earth, but that doesn't change NASA's budget.
Different majorities of Americans think the country is going the wrong way, oppose Obama's escalation of the Afghan war, object to the ongoing bailouts of the auto and financial sectors, worry about the unsustainable national debt, and oppose the president's health plan.
The breadth and diversity of opposition to the Obama agenda suggests that the president is struggling not because of his pigmentation or parentage but because he has overloaded the circuits of the American polity.
The White House sees it another way. The peaceful protests in the streets, the anemic polls, and the skeptical public are the results of a sinister effort to ruin Obama because of who he is.
An unnamed White House aide told the Washington Post's Anne Kornblut that whether it is outrage of having Van Jones in the White House or the exposure of ACORN fraud, it is all connected by the sinister threads of personal opposition to the president.
They are battles in a “broader war is about the fate of this presidency and the other side's attempts to delegitimize him and to make him into a failure.”
Americans cherish equality.
We recoil at the thought that a person who could do a job as well or better than someone else be deprived of the chance because of the color of their skin. That's why the stories of Jackie Robinson and the Tuskegee Airmen overcoming racism to break barriers for all blacks are points of national pride.
The hope for a post-racial culture that came with Obama's election arose from a belief that the final barrier to equality had been broken.
Many liberals say that strong opposition to the president shows that we have not yet achieved that goal.
But being president isn't like playing second base for the Dodgers or shooting down Messerschmitts. Measuring success or failure is a difficult, long-term proposition.
Equality means being judged on your performance, and if Obama fails it will be because of how he handles the presidency not because of the color of his skin.
For him, success or failure will be colorblind.
Chris Stirewalt is the political editor of The Washington Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org