They jumped all over Governor Andrew Cuomo a few weeks ago when, during a radio interview, he took aim on the purveyors of far-right political extremism, saying they “have no place in New York” because “that’s not who New Yorkers are.” It was a sampling of typical over-speak, always possible when folks sound off on the holders of views diametrically opposed to their own. Conservative Republican reaction to Cuomo’s blast was likewise over the top, crowing about how much of a boost this was for the cause in New York. Even as we acknowledge, though, that no one sector owns the patent on smash-mouth thrashing of the other(s), they have a yen, on the right, for employing “scorched earth” methods of heaping damnation on rivals that leaves no doubt they’re without equal in this regard.
We, to whom New York is home, tend to look askance at any attempts to inject in these parts some of the more off-putting ways of the hinterland. Case in point: An advertisement for a New York radio station which trumpets the station as New York’s means of access to Rush Limbaugh. Talk about anachronism! Touting the likes of Limbaugh in New York suggests disconnect writ large. Limbaugh, who is perhaps unchallenged as the right’s ultimate face of revulsion for “ordinary people.” The very one whose take on President Obama introducing that gallant, decorated serviceman at last week’s State of the Union, was that Obama wanted to show Americans an example of what George Bush’s war policies had wrought…the sort of routinely tasteless utterance that ensures the right’s place as “winners” in the practice of cesspool politics. And, as we’ve unyieldingly maintained here, that putrid stuff issuing from the right has come with more craven indifference than ever before in the age of Obama.
We thought the biliousness that characterized the attack style reserved for the Clinton presidency had taken right-wing screamers into uncharted negative territory. For having been so presumptuous as to interrupt the Reagan wave in 1992, before an expected 16 years of Reagan and Bush senior, Clinton was naturally a marked man. Small wonder that when came even a far-fetched impeachment opportunity, the Republican hard right defied public opinion, party elders and the logic of impeachment trial head counting and proceeded with the farce. Little did we know that “You ain’t seen nothing yet” was so applicable for a few years down the road.
It’s savagery, pure and simple, what the right earmarks non-stop for President Obama. They were highly incensed that Clinton had become president, that he had had the nerve to discount long-standing taboos and placed persons of color in cabinet and other high-level positions, unprecedented in Washington. But barring, for instance, the occasional nut job who might blow smoke for this or that, Clinton’s executive orders didn’t ignite a backlash of impeachment threats, talk of his approximating king or dictator dimensions and all the rest, as has been rained upon this president. Simply because a sizeable enough slice of the population remains appalled that the country could have so elevated an African American in 2008. Some of us dared hope that once the cacophony about making him a one-termer was silenced in 2012, a modicum of civility would manifest itself. Not a chance. The obsession with de-legitimizing the Obama presidency, lacking reason as it does, isn’t about to go away. Insensitivity-wise, Governor Cuomo’s taunt of their type can’t hold a candle to those hate missiles the enraged, embittered mob daily launches in the president’s direction.
We had some warning in summer 2009 that this avalanche of sick behavior was ready and waiting. Under the guise of opposition to the president’s healthcare initiative, party honchos and confederates across the land rolled out a precursor to the drumbeat of unrestrained animosity that was to come. There was nary an attempt to sugarcoat how racially inspired the ugliness was. In stark relief was exposed the myth some had tried to promote, that an overwhelming mass of Americans had emerged the preceding November from a lingering darkness of racially defined compartmentalization. The appearance on the scene of a Tea Party ethos gave formal stamp to the movement to pull America back from any flirtation with a new enlightenment. “Hell no,” they came out to say in the summer of 2009, and have continued to say it since.
Mindful though we are that within the state and even the city of New York there exist pockets of such race-driven reaction, we’re entitled, in New York, to feel immense pride about not being, overall, any bastion of the blind hate fueling anti-Obama sentiment. That’s even as we try to ignore the embarrassing presence here of a Donald Trump whose true colors could no longer be masked (if ever they were) once there was a person of color in the White House. Trump clones in our midst notwithstanding, we appreciate the governor’s declared non-preference for those types in these parts.
A curious pass it is that we’ve reached in this country. The very action that supposedly demonstrated our admirably entering a state of adulthood has come to dramatize how stuck we are in the muddied past. There’s no disputing whence comes the clamor to resist real forward movement. And participants in that backward-looking crusade, along with kindred spirits, have long forfeited any right to call out Cuomo or anyone else.