Surprise: This “reporter” had no tape recorder and took no notes. Even ABC’s Sam Donaldson commented saying, “I never interrupted any president while he was making a formal presentation of any sort. You don’t do that, do you?”
Somehow with this President, things that are typically not done are.
“I am particularly sensitive to the fact that only this president, only this president, only this one, has received these kind attacks and disagreements… Only this one… Read between the lines,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) last summer of 2011 during the debt ceiling debate.
“What is different about this president that should put him in a position that he should not receive the same kind of respectful treatment of when it is necessary to raise the debt limit in order to pay our bills — something required by both statute and the 14th amendment?” the Congresswoman wondered.
Needless to say, she was called a race baiter by the right for daring to suggest that the first Black President of the United States is at times treated in ways no President in the modern era has. Problem is: The facts are on Jackson Lee’s side as incidents continue to pile up.
Whether it’s being “greeted” by a Governor pointing a finger in his face or standing in the Rose Garden being yelled at by a “reporter,” the series of slights towards the first Black President of the United States continues. The so-called reporter “broke convention” says The New York Times. That would be an understatement.
At the end of the press conference, the same “reporter” yelled a political statement at the President. “What about American workers who are unemployed while you’re importing foreigners,” he said.
Paul Brandus, who publishes The West Wing Report, wrote that it was “an extraordinary exchange.” Imagine the react on the right if American Urban Radio Networks correspondent April Ryan interrupted George Bush the way President was interrupted in the Rose Garden.
That disrespect is outside the normal game of politics, which as everyone knows, is a game of hardball. But there’s a difference between hard hitting political attacks on the President like the ones by Gov. Mitt Romney and people in need to act as if they’re the President’s boss. Did we see any of this when President’s Reagan, Bush, Clinton or George W. were in office? It would seem we suddenly are witnesses to the never before seen.
In September 2009, as the President spoke to a joint session, a member of Congress, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), yelled out “you lie” at President Obama. No one could remember a similar incident happening before.
In September 2011, yet another unprecedented moment happened. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) refused the White House’s request of a date to speak to a joint session Congress. Again, no one could recall that happening previously.
In January 2012, Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer put her finger in the President’s face like an adult might do to a teenager. Suddenly simply greeting the President in a routine manner turned confrontational.
On the House floor in July 2011, Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) was instructed by the House Parliamentarian to remind members of Congress that “disparaging remarks directed at the President of United States are inappropriate.” The very fact the members had to be instructed spoke volumes.
It’s a free country, no one has to be in love with the 44th President of the United States. But was it really necessary to announce in a public speech that, “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term,” as Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell did in December 2010? Typically that type of statement is made in a private political strategy session. Suddenly with this President the rules are out the window and past standards of respect are gone.
At least some in politics have other ideas. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) supports civility as part of a push to fix Congress.
“For me to tell my grandson it’s “President Obama” …. this is the glue that holds us together as Americans. When we start peeling that back and not valuing that — the fabric of our larger community is at risk with serious implications,” Rigell said last month on the question of respect and the presidency. Rigell says House members should always refer to the President with his title in front of his name on the House floor and that the respect should carry over regardless who is in office. Often members refer to the President as “Obama.” Will any others catch on?