Mark Steel: Did Obama forget he's in charge?

Share
Related Topics

The easy view to adopt would be that we're back to normal, and Americans are just mental. Because the people leading the hatred of Obama are characters such as Glenn Beck, spokesman for the Tea Party. Beck hosts a TV show in which during the last 18 months he's likened Obama to Hitler 349 times.

Every night he must tell viewers that Hitler started out with a healthcare plan, then things spun out of control so he invaded France. But Beck has also said: "Obama has deep-seated hatred for white people and white culture." So that proves the likeness between him and Hitler, because there's nothing which annoyed the Führer more than white people. Adolf 'Black Power' Hitler they called him. At rally after rally he'd thump his fist on a table and yell: "People of Germany, we have let whitey keep us in the ghetto for too long. We must rise up brothers and sisters, and insist Nuremberg is a city where black is beautiful, hallelujah."

But they don't need logic, they just call him whatever they fancy for that day. So he's a fascist, a communist and an Islamic terrorist. Next they'll say he's a radical feminist and a supporter of Josef Fritzl, a pacifist and a suicide bomber, a virgin and a rent boy. Fox News will say: "An expert on reincarnation has revealed that in a previous life President Obama was almost certainly a huge spider. And most damaging of all for the President he was a hairy red-kneed spider which is not found naturally in the US, but is native to Kenya, which could cast doubts over his legitimacy as President."

Then Republicans will appear in soft focus adverts in which they say: "Did you know President Obama has never denied he's planning to put the elderly on mountains naked in the night to see who survives, as part of a sacrifice to his father who's an evil spirit with the face of a wolf? If you care about your parents, vote Republican."

What angers the anti-Obama people, they say, is "government interference in everyday life", although they weren't so perturbed by the previous President's policy of invading places, which could, in certain circumstances, interfere with some people's everyday life. But the collapse in Obama's support can only partly be explained by the vitriol of the Tea Party. Few people seem to have switched from Obama to the Republicans. But most of those who supported him have lost the enthusiasm that brought him to power. This is probably because so much of the change he promised has been abandoned almost without a fight.

Maybe he forgets he's the President. So he watches the news and says: "You know, it's time they shut down that Guantanamo Bay." Then if someone says: "Well do it then, you're the President," he says: "Oh don't be silly, no one's going to take any notice of little old me." It was the same with healthcare. He promised to introduce it, but the health companies objected so he backed down until the scheme was hardly any better than the old one. And the climate change proposals were lost as they were opposed by the oil companies. Because he was like a kindly neighbour knocking at the door of a house where there's a wild party in the middle of the night, saying: "Er excuse me, the carbon emissions, would it be possible for you to keep them down a bit?" The problem isn't just Obama's. It seems to be accepted that for any change to take place, big business has to be brought on board, even if the change is to stop big business swiping billions of dollars or damaging the planet. It's as if no one believed a government could ever bring in a law banning bank robbery, as you'd never get the bank robbers to agree with it.

But Obama could have listened to the health companies, then said: "That's all fascinating, but the thing is, I was elected President and you weren't, so piss off." Otherwise what's the point of having an election at all? What's frustrating is he had another weapon as well as being President. He had mass enthusiasm; he was able to mobilise it for the election, and he could still appeal to it if he seemed willing to take on his opponents. Which must be a better strategy than looking tragically confounded, muttering: "I'm not really Hitler, honest."

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace

Gabriel Sassoon
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

Government hails latest GDP figures, but there is still room for scepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little