Home > Politics > They Hate Obama Because He’s Smart

They Hate Obama Because He’s Smart

Activate your B.S. detectors, dear readers. I’m about to engage in wild speculation.

The difference, of course, is that I label it as speculation instead of pretending that I’m just giving you the facts.

One of the things we do in my family is read newspapers. Lots of them. Yes, I know, that’s so totally last season. But you learn quite a bit that way.  And I read my news online so that I don’t destroy any trees in the process.

The “letters from readers” section of today’s New York Times has a letter that seems to clarify why some people hate President Obama so much. It’s not that he’s black, though that’s part of it. Here’s what got my attention:

Mr. Obama’s professorial and condescending attitudes toward his critics have only made things worse.

I read that and I thought, “Huh? What condescending attitudes?”

I’ve watched President Obama speak several times, including his speech to Congress last week. He didn’t smirk or make fun of his audience. Each time, he gave facts and logical arguments. He focused on issues rather than personalities.

I did not feel that he was condescending at all. I felt as if he was speaking to Americans as his peers, as rational people who could understand facts and assess his reasoning.

But then I realized: To a lot of people, that seems like condescension. They’d rather listen to a fake cowboy who grew up in Connecticut and bought a fake ranch in Texas. They don’t like the idea of a president who’s intelligent, uses multi-syllabic words, and has lots of that fancy-pants book larnin’. They want a president who seems just as stupid and ignorant as they believe that they are: someone with whom they would feel comfortable “having a beer.”

In their eyes, President Obama has committed an unpardonable sin: It’s not just that he’s black, but that he’s black and he’s smarter than they are. They can’t accept that. Every time he opens his mouth and uses those two- and three-syllable words, they think that he’s talking down to them.

But they’re reacting not to anything Obama does, but to their own deep and painful sense of inadequacy. That’s why they react so differently from the way I do, and from the way most college students probably react. We don’t have a deep-seated fear that we’re stupid. They do fear that about themselves, and Obama’s calm, logical approach just seems to rub that fear in their faces.

Ironically, they’re probably not stupid. I’ve known people like that. They haven’t had the educational opportunities that we have, they haven’t read lots of books and they don’t speak any other languages, but there’s nothing wrong with their intelligence. They’re afflicted less with stupidity than with a nagging sense of inferiority. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) is a poster child for that syndrome.

Anyway, you may run all that through your B.S. detector to see if it was worth reading. I’ve got homework. 🙂


Copyright 2009 by Rinth de Shadley.

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Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,
  1. September 16, 2009 at 12:41 am

    Why do “them” “they” hate President? Don’t know there’s a hate group working up a mob action. Letters to editor does sound pretty threatening. Imagine, somebody thinks the President appears to dismiss criticsm! Considering the Republican suggestions don’t see the light of day in any proposal might seem he is dismissing even the illusion of considering ideas he would never accept.

    • Rinth de Shadley
      September 16, 2009 at 12:53 am

      I don’t know about them-they, but I think you are mistaken about the lack of Republican input into the president’s proposals. In my opinion, he has done far too much to address Republican concerns and has received no cooperation in return.

  2. cutshot
    September 16, 2009 at 3:40 am

    Child, Child, Child. Wisdom does not equate to the years of education you may be fortunate enough to attain. I have met many highly schooled individuals that unfortunately have been educated beyond their capacity to learn. On the other hand, I also know many less fortunate who have developed, through intellegence and life experiences, critical thinking skills much beyond those with even advanced degrees; and who are more than capable of assesing truths and untruths, rights and wrongs. I certainly hope you do not walk out when finished with your education thinking you are somehow superior to the less fortunate. You may experience your own “deep and painful sense of inadequacy” when you find youself competing with them in your career.

    • Rinth de Shadley
      September 16, 2009 at 3:45 am

      Apart from the “child, child,” I agree with everything you said.

      Wisdom is not something we learn out of a book, but by living and paying attention. And education does not by itself make anyone a better person. I know many fine, intelligent people who were not blessed with the educational opportunities that I have. My blog article merely tried to examine why some people react so negatively to President Obama.

  3. September 21, 2009 at 3:14 am

    I think you’ve hit on something here. Reactions to Obama that are incomprehensible to a reasoning person become understandable in the light of your “speculation.” Obama may be professorial. I actually like that in a President! It sure beats being a doofus, like two of our last four presidents. But he is certainly not condescending.

    I’m reminded of the trial scene in To Kill a Mockingbird. Tom Robinson was accused of raping Mayella Ewing. His trial was going okay until Tom volunteered that he helped Mayella break up a chifforobe because he “felt sorry for her.” The courtroom gasped as one person, and you knew he was doomed. Feeling sorry for her made it clear (to them) that he felt above her.

    • Rinth de Shadley
      September 21, 2009 at 12:16 pm

      Thank for the thoughtful (and funny) comment!

      The word “doofus” is totally accurate as a description of our previous president, but for some reason I giggle every time I try to use it. 🙂 And “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my favorite books.

      We need to get past the idea that some of us are “above” other people. We’re all here to help and support each other.

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