Barack Obama’s presidency is failing.
Despite what he and his cheerleaders in the press think, he is still losing the argument over ObamaCare. The program has posted a few non-catastrophic enrollment numbers lately, but a lot of the public has already made up their minds. They never liked the program much to begin with, and now that they know what’s in it, they like it even less. The economic recovery, such as it is, continues to be slow, painful, and jobless. The president’s foreign policy is spinning out of control in all directions.
So the left is doing what they always do when their policies fail: make everything about race, instead. If the Obama presidency itself is what’s failing, then his whole presidency—the one that was supposed to usher in a post-racial era—must be all about race, too.
Hence a long article by Jonathan Chait in New York magazine informing us that yes, Obama’s term in office was really about race all along: “if you…set out to write a social history of the Obama years, one that captured the day-to-day experience of political life, you would find that race has saturated everything as perhaps never before.”
Chait accurately identifies the distinctive racial politics of Obama’s post-racial era, describing an incident in which Bill Maher attributed the entire rise of the Tea Party to a visceral reaction against a black president. There you have the new racial politics: white people calling other white people racists.
Liberals dwell in a world of paranoia of a white racism that has seeped out of American history in the Obama years and lurks everywhere, mostly undetectable. Conservatives dwell in a paranoia of their own, in which racism is used as a cudgel to delegitimize their core beliefs. And the horrible thing is that both of these forms of paranoia are right.
This formulation might make you think that Chait is being even-handed and trying to build a bridge between the two sides. And he does make a show of sympathizing with the right’s predicament, though in a somewhat condescending way. Here’s about as conciliatory as he actually gets: “Though the liberal analytic method begins with a sound grasp of the broad connection between conservatism and white racial resentment, it almost always devolves into an open-ended license to target opponents on the basis of their ideological profile.” Equating conservatism with racism: it’s a good idea taken just a little too far.
So we find that Chait’s actual theme is to justify this coupling of race with political loyalty—and to project it into the indefinite future.
Read more: The Federalist