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Wyckoff Williams writes: "According to their dogma, Barack X is raising taxes, destroying the military, apologizing for America, waging war on religion and creating death panels that decide if you live or die."

Has the Right created a fictional candidate based on its worst nightmares? (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Has the Right created a fictional candidate based on its worst nightmares? (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

How the Right Invented 'Barack X'

By Edward Wyckoff Williams, The Root

29 February 12


ave you met Barack X? He's the candidate that the political right has invented in a bid to win back the White House: a fictional president with no decipherable religion and questionable loyalties.

According to their dogma, Barack X is raising taxes, destroying the military, apologizing for America, waging war on religion and creating death panels that decide if you live or die.

HBO's Bill Maher described Barack X last month during the "New Rules" segment of his talk show, when he skewered the laughable link that conservative Newt Gingrich tried to make between the mid-20th-century, Chicago-born community organizer Saul Alinsky and President Obama. As Maher clarified, the president was 10 years old when Alinsky died, and the only thing the two men have in common is that they both "liked black people."

The lies that have characterized right-wing attacks on this nation's first African-American president have ranged from depictions of him as Hitler to the outlandish claims at recent Republican-primary debates that Obama voted for infanticide.

Rick Santorum - who doesn't want to make "blah" people's lives better and refuses to accept women's contraceptive rights - is convinced that the president is guided by some new "phony theology" not based on Christianity. Santorum also believes the president is a "snob" who dares encourage American youths to attend college.

Mitt Romney, who unwittingly admitted in a radio interview with Laura Ingraham that "of course the economy is getting better," has been performing his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act on the primary stump, with accusations that Obama's policies have "made the economy worse."

On any given Sunday, conservative pundits from Fox News to MSNBC can be found regurgitating lies as fact. Obama is either a radical secret Muslim or a secular socialist, hell-bent on destroying capitalism. He is painted either as an inexperienced community organizer - who ought to show his college transcript - or as a Harvard elite who, Santorum claimed, "thinks he's smarter than you."

The cognitive dissonance inherent in these fallacies is appalling at best and offensive at worst, especially when you consider that they are formulated by elected officials and political operatives who claim to love their country.

From the hand on the heart as "The Star-Spangled Banner" plays to the strategically placed lapel flag pin, Republicans have mastered the art of smoke screen politics, positioning themselves as the true patriots from "the real America." Anyone who is not in their camp is painted as the opposite: an outsider who can't be trusted.

E.J. Dionne Jr., the award-winning Washington Post columnist, recently addressed this phenomenon in a piece titled, "President Obama as an Alien": "Whatever our president is, he is never allowed to be a garden-variety American who plays basketball and golf, has a remarkably old-fashioned family life and, in the manner we regularly recommend to our kids, got ahead by getting a good education."

What is it about this man, whose life has followed a classic, all-American trajectory - raised by a struggling single mother, yet managed to attend Harvard, marry well and raise two beautiful children - that so unsettles the conservative establishment? Why are they invested in his failure and demise?

Racism seems wholly insufficient an answer. Politics is power and money realized. Today's GOP is playing a long game. Race-baiting is simply a tactic and means to greater end: namely, keys to the White House.

On Nov. 4, 2008, black, brown and white alike, Democrat and Republican, all celebrated the realization of the American dream. Particularly poignant was the reality that Barack and Michelle's story could only be achieved here, in America.

But the dream quickly proved a mirage. The backlash became so insidious after Obama took office that it raises questions about the intent at the heart of the vile character assassinations being waged against him.

Of course, receiving criticism is par for the course for any president. It is only fair to point out former House Speaker Gingrich's call for Bill Clinton's impeachment, or left-wing accusations that George W. Bush masterminded 9/11. But at no point were these men framed as un-American or anti-American. No one questioned their birthplace, religion or national loyalty. No one yelled, "You lie" from either side of the chamber.

It is these dark imaginings about Obama, thrust onto our political consciousness by a power-driven GOP, that have brought the nonsensical attitudes that feed anti-Obama sentiment.

Perhaps Republicans need to distort and conflate because running against Obama's real record would only highlight his ability to successfully steer a struggling economy, save a near-bankrupt automobile industry and manage foreign policy challenges with maturity and precision.

The invented "Barack X" is easier to run against.

With an increasingly ill-informed electorate inundated with the GOP's dogma, the party plans to combine that ignorance with super PAC funds and a strategic attack on voter-registration laws. Disenfranchisement, by consent of the governed, is the intended pathway. No trick is too dirty, and playing on old stereotypes (using race and religion as fodder) is the preferred tactic.

GOP claims that Obama is all about raising taxes are belied by his recent signing of yet another extension of the payroll-tax cut.

Gingrich's "greatest food stamp president" attack has been sufficiently disproven: Department of Agriculture data show that that title belongs to George W. Bush.

Romney's incessant attacks on Obama's handling of the economy are undermined by nearly two years of recovery. The much-touted lie that Obama is "destroying American jobs" has been answered with 3.7 million new jobs added in 23 months of net job growth.

Gingrich claimed that the president is "dangerous on foreign policy," but facts tell a story of achievement, culminating in the execution of public enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden, and a skillfully orchestrated coalition to defeat Egypt's Mubarak and Libya's Qaddafi.

Obama kept his promise to end the war in Iraq and has announced an early exit from Afghanistan.

The farcical antics of comedy have met the body politic, and the Republican strategy can be summed up in the Seinfeld phrase: "It's not a lie if you believe it."

No, Barack Obama is not perfect. But his record can be challenged without him being undermined.

As president, he was presented with incredible challenges, and he answered with complicated, largely effective solutions. Obama is not a radical. And you don't need to travel to Kenya or a Gingrich-established moon colony to understand him.

The Obama-Biden re-election campaign recently launched a "truth team" in order to challenge right-wing claims. With so much work to be done, my hope is that American voters will look at the president's real record and arrive at the polls with proper identification.

Edward Wyckoff Williams is an author, columnist, political analyst for MSNBC and a former investment banker. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. your social media marketing partner


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For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

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It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

-10 # bluepilgrim 2012-02-29 20:06
OOH! What a snob! An MBA and a lawyer even!!!
(although never taught law like Obama did)
Santorum attended Pennsylvania State University for his undergraduate studies, serving as chairman of the university's College Republicans chapter and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with honors in political science in 1980.[29] He then completed a one-year Master of Business Administration program at the University of Pittsburgh's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, graduating in 1981.

In 1986, Santorum received a law degree (JD) with honors from the Dickinson School of Law.

People who have read my comments know I'm anything but an Obama fan and won't vote for him, but the Republicans, such as Santorum, are just pond scum (and I'm thinking put up as pond scum by the 1% to ensure Obama is re-elected). Obama is at least a *competent* fascist quisling, and that's something no Republican would ever be.

If fish rot from the head down then US politics is a fetid swamp.
-13 # WFO 2012-02-29 20:50
Renewal of the Patriot Act - check
NDAA and the loss of habeas corpus - check
Private insurance mandates - check
Attacked and destroyed prosperous and stable Libya - check
Expanded war in Afghanistan - check
Obama drone doctrine of attacking target, then rescuers, then mourners - check
Sanctions and covert war on Iran - check
Bankster Bailouts - check
Expansion of government surveillance on Americans - check
Ex-ray body scanners at airports - check
Neo-con foreign policy - check

3rd Bush administration - check
+2 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-01 13:14
I see you getting all those minuses, and yet all you list is fact. Is the disapproval for those things Obama did and does, or just articulating them to people who don't want to think about it?

Are those domestic tidbits which some talk about supposed to make up for war crimes, trashing the constitution, and increasing the wealth divide?
+22 # Regina 2012-03-01 00:26
The Republican screed is all racism, all the way. Obama doesn't "know his place." Stepin Fetchit (Remember him? Only if you're old-old) is their idea of a proper black man. [They're just as raunchy in their sexism -- Hitler said it all: "Children, Kitchen, Church" was the Nazi order for women, echoed by Santorum in his rant that women should not be working out of the home.] The Republican Party is hell-bent to return us to the 19th century, and Obama; literally offends them just by his existence. But they're not alone -- they're being driven there by the Kochs, Norquist, and their ilk and money, dreaming of the free-wheeling money days of the "Gilded Age."
+24 # X Dane 2012-03-01 02:26
When the idiots wanting to be president, open their mouths all kinds of crap comes out. The things they accuse the president of are unbelievable.

They must think that we are all as stupid and uninformed as they are. They forget that we can SEE what is going on. Lots of video and information available about the president's record.

They keep insisting that Obama has raised taxes, which is a patently FALSE. He has lowered them, several times.
+2 # ABen 2012-03-01 09:36
X Dane; you risk confusing many of the boo-birds and wacko conspiracy theory crowd by introducing facts. I am surprised that some these people even go outside for fear of the government black-ops helicopters hovering over their homes.
0 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-01 14:05
Obama does not have control of taxes -- that's the congress. But he does have control over the military, Homeland Security, FBI, CIA, and Department of justice -- the ones making war, spying on citizens, infiltrating occupy, persecuting whistle blowers, Manning, and Assange, and otherwise curtailing human rights and wrecking havoc on the nation and the world.

As for economy, here's an interesting article:
Obama, UAW revel in auto workers’ impoverishment
By Shannon Jones
1 March 2012
+25 # Patriot 2012-03-01 02:51
bluepilgrim, your points nicely underscore Mr. Williams' point: Santorum spent two decades in educational instituions, yet he decries that Obama's encouragement of all young Americans to get a college education as snobbery. Pitifully, Santorum's education doesn't seem to have gone to his head.

WFO, that's quite a checklist. Too bad you haven't bothered to note ALL of Obama's accomplishments , or the fact that he's made them despite the determination of Republicans to assure that he succeeds at nothing, even if the country collapses in the process.

Until recent years, when the Reublican party seems to have embraced mental instability, I've considered myself a solid political independant. I've chosen friends based on ALL their characteristics , interests, and opinions. I mourn, now, for the people I've known and liked and debated with who've been staunch Republicans. What they're watching happen to the politcal party and the political philosophy they've always supported is heartbreaking.

The Reublican candidates aren't conservative; they've gone way past even being reactionary. They're not throw-backs; what they're doing is the sort of thing that's only been done in our past by fringe groups: playing on fear, doubt, ignorance, and suspicion. If any one of them wins the presidency, we won't have to wait to see how they destroy the country. Their election will be proof that it already has died.
-10 # WFO 2012-03-01 09:17
Quoting Patriot:

WFO, that's quite a checklist. Too bad you haven't bothered to note ALL of Obama's accomplishments...

Please list what you consider Obama's accomplishments?

I'm embarrassed to admit it in retrospect, but I voted for Obama in the general election. I can't think of anything he campaigned on that hasn't been the exact opposite. It has been a total 1984 mind-fuk.

What a tragedy for the country and the world that the whole of modern politics is to fool the people.
+6 # ABen 2012-03-01 11:31
WFO; since you asked, here is a partial list:
-Overhauled the food safety system
-Approved the Lily Ledbetter "Equal pay for women rule
-Ended "Don't ask, Don't tell"
-Appointed two progressive women to SCOTUS
-Expanded SCHIP healthcare for children
-Pushed through a stimulus bill that saved or created 2-2.5 million jobs
-Overhauled the Credit Card industry , making it more consumer friendly
-Won two extensions of of the debt ceiling and extension of unemployment in the face of GOP threats to "shut it down"
-Passage of START Treaty
-First Responder bill providing health care coverage to firemen, police, and other workers injured during the 9/11 attacks.
-Affordable Health Care Act
There many other items that could go on this list, but it hits most of the high points, and he accomplished these things in the face of the most obstructionist Congress since FDR's second term. While he may not have done everything you wanted (or wished) him to do, remember, we only elected him president, not king.
-2 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-01 13:03
Frankly, I'd trade all that, with the 'faith' that the people could make it happen anyway if not oppressed, for just the rule of law to return, with habeas corpus and supporting the protests instead of colluding against them and their constitutional rights, ending the illegal and aggressive wars instead of starting new ones, and prosecuting the war criminals and torturers from the last administration instead of becoming one of them.

I don't want a deceptive authoritarian despot or a 'good king', but a real democracy, for all it's flaws. Obama could have gone a long way to restoring civil and human rights, but went the other way, and now we have less freedom in the US than when he took office.
-17 # infohiway 2012-03-01 05:00
So - the omni-sexual, PC, climate-changel ing, 'progressive' gang-bangers equate all constitutionali st and therefore loyal Americans with racists - eh?

They are by-and-large not DIXIECRAT racist - though Obamatons shamelessly play the universally degrading 'race card' at will - it's more elemental than provocative ad hominem cheap-shots, and slurs; in that America's center, right and GOP moderates simply rejected 'the Bu$h Doctrine' embodied in John (songbird) McCain and Sarah (dingbat) Palin. So did a lot of DEMS TOO and they're far more likely to vote on a RACE BASIS ONLY.
-15 # infohiway 2012-03-01 05:02
But - looking at 4-more years of illegal and pointless wars plus the scandalous bailouts for his thieving neoCON bankster "base" and buddies, whilst in the throes of the most severe economic shock in living memory - the right's and GOP's 'minds and hearts' simply weren't 'in it'.

So they refused to vote DEM or GOP and stayed at home. When Bu$h said he would "burn political capital" in his second term, he meant it and this mess is the result. TO WIT: BARKY'S 4-more years of illegal and pointless wars plus the scandalous bailouts for thieving neoLIB banksters.

That boycott of Election 2008 (with Acorn's cemetery votes plus other antics) elected the un-vetted and virtually unknown 'outsider' - Obama.

The so-called 'war hero' - senator John McCain co-sponsored Joe LIEberman's treasonous NDAA National Defense Authorization Act in revenge on all America(ns) for rejecting him.
+2 # Regina 2012-03-01 16:59
The wars were Dubya's obsession with one-upping his Poppy, whose earlier war was limited and saved Yemen. W was egged on by Cheney & Co., who stood to profit via corporate connections; also a few oil-bound "neocons" were in on that act. Keep in mind, they never funded those glorious adventures (Mission Accomplished!), and left the debts for the rest of us to pay off. Meanwhile they connived to cut revenue by cutting their and their cohorts' taxes for a double-bind on the public finances. Of course, wars are the Republicans' method of population control, while they bleat pseudo-religiou s arguments against contraception. And they carry on this "pro-Life" baloney instead of moving legislation that would help overcome the recession they produced.
+6 # 666 2012-03-01 06:23
If Obama were half the things the George Orwell Party accused him of being, I'd probably vote for him...

But I tend to agree with bluepilgrim. The GOP candidates are just actors in a Greek comedy: The powers-that-be are simply giving these nutballs a chance to act out their (& their supporters') weird fantasies, before their whole pandora thing is safely put back in its box under a 2nd obama presidency. And the Powers can always say "hey, we gave you guys a fair shot, but you blew it".

Divide & conquer - check
Gridlock accomplished - check
Plutocracy continued - check
Escalation of dirtier politics - check
Furthering unrest at home - check
+7 # RMDC 2012-03-01 07:29
All of this is pretty much standard operations in US politics. Every party tries to "define" its opposition. We on the left participated in defining George Bush as a mentally incapacitated frat boy and a puppet of Dick Cheney. This is how politics is played. It is up to Obama to demonstrate that he is not what the republicans say he is. Unfortunately, he is going about it in all the wrong ways. He is trying to out-republican the republicans. He learned this from his master, Bill Clinton.

What Obama needs to do is embrace the progressive ideas he campaigned on. He was popular when he said that America needed fundamental changes -- like meeting face to face with the leaders of nations the Bush administration demonized, universal healthcare, regulation of banks and corps, and a more open and transparent and ethical administration. But he did not do this. He followed Bush/Cheney/Cli nton.
+5 # humanmancalvin 2012-03-01 09:25
If ignorance is truly bliss the whacky right must be unfailingly happy.
-6 # infohiway 2012-03-01 13:32
And this just might be 'history-in-the -making' on a par with The Watergate explosion.
MARCH 01, 2012
+1 # ABen 2012-03-01 18:18
infohiway; are you for real? I live in AZ. I have watched Arpaio's sideshow for far too long. I can assure you that his windows don't open all the way. Those of us who live here know that this is nothing more than a publicity stunt Arpaio thinks will help enhance his standing with the state GOP.
+1 # WFO 2012-03-01 21:58
"WFO; since you asked, here is a partial list:"

I'll address a few of these...

-Overhauled the food safety system:
How is that, by appointing a Monsanto executive to the head of the FDA. By fast tracking the approval of GMO's? By sending Federal SWAT teams after organic farmers and co-ops?

-Approved the Lily Ledbetter "Equal pay for women rule:
Sounds good, but the fact is that women are graduating from college at much higher numbers than men, and this the unemployment crisis is hitting men in much higher numbers also. The playing field is leveling itself - but it is a nice political move nonetheless.

-Pushed through a stimulus bill that saved or created 2-2.5 million jobs:

Each of these saved or created jobs cost taxpayers a large chunk of money (actually,they weren't paid for, they just added to the debt, plus interest - forever).

-Won two extensions of of the debt ceiling and extension of unemployment in the face of GOP threats to "shut it down":

More debt slavery to the banking cartel, with interest - forever!

continued -
0 # WFO 2012-03-01 21:59
-Passage of START Treaty:

This what warmongering does - Quote: "Russia Threatens to Aim Missiles at NATO Shield
Medvedev also says he'll back out of the START treaty"

-Affordable Health Care Act:

There is nothing affordable about health care, and it has skyrocketed since the passage of Affordable Health Care - more Orwellian double-speak. The private insurance mandate was a bailout for insurance companies - they wrote the legislation!

remember, we only elected him president, not king.:

Hah...NDAA makes the president a king - no trial, no charges, no habeas corpus - tortured and thrown in a hole and nobody knows anything and can do nothing - all on the president's order!
0 # stonecutter 2012-03-02 00:35
To pick up on RMDC's comment above, we're caught in the proverbial "lesser of two evils" meme when it comes to presidential politics. If the GOP had not devolved from the wholesale sophistry of Bush/Cheney into a national fringe group of white, Christian far-right extremists, and instead fielded a slate of candidates that, by virtue of background, experience, accomplishments , demeanor and rhetoric, could appeal to rational independents, and even moderate Democrats, president Obama would be far less likely to win a second term.

For a long while before this revolting primary season, most of us who comment here were highly critical of Obama, betrayed by the wide gap between his campaign rhetoric and his actual policies once in office. Not so much that he hasn't done any good, or he wasn't facing great challenges, but that he didn't hold Wall Street accountable for the economic meltdown, didn't surround himself with "new blood", but instead brought in many of the architects of the disaster and gave them the keys to the kingdom once again. "Change" we could never believe in.

Despite his failures, he now looks like FDR compared to the crackpots on the other side. Had Huntsman managed to capture light in a bottle, things would be different. Of course, Huntsman's evaporation reinforces the sole reason to vote for Obama, and hope, however half-heartedly, that he will be different in a second term. The alternative is simply unthinkable.

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