Republican politicians are in the habit of assailing President Obama with statements like the following: "I believe that President Obama is the worst President in American history." Really? Based on what facts? Was he worse than Willard Fillmore? Was he worse than Franklin Pierce? Was he worse then James Buchanan? According to every poll including the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, C-SPAN and Sienna College, these Presidents are considered the worst. But never mind that. What Republican politicians and right wing talking heads like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and other right wingers do is to create an alternative reality based not on facts but on beliefs. They've constructed a completely fictitious alternative Barack Obama, one that is worthy of being detested and ridiculed and demeaned. Then their job is to sell that image of Barack Obama to the American public. The American public, most of them, have never met Barack Obama. They've never discussed politics, economics or anything else with Barack Obama. Their only knowledge of Barack Obama is whatever comes over the TV tube. So competing realities are out their for defining and either demonizing or angelizing Barack Obama. According to this view of reality, the side with the most TV and media output wins. Republican politicians and TV and talking head radio personalities are mostly either lawyers or people like lawyers with immense powers to persuade and convince people of practically anything. A good lawyer can convince a jury that an innocent man is guilty or that a guilty man is innocent. That is their job, and the better that the lawyer can distort the truth, the better lawyer he or she is considered to be.
When it comes to politics, the more right wing talking heads can convince people that Barack Obama is the worst President ever, the more money they make. The whole point is to demonize Obama by associating him with Muslims or Kenyans or the devil. They don't quite go so far as to associate him with Hitler. That seems to be one line even the lunatic fringe will not cross. But they tell you he is a European socialist despite the fact that he went all out to save the big banks, the very beating heart of capitalism, from complete collapse in the recent financial calamity. Despite the fact that not one fraudulent banker is in jail, Obama is a socialist. Too bad the Soviet Union no longer exists or they would be tagging Obama with the communist label. So now they are reduced in effect to accusing him of being sympathetic to the European Union! Gorbachev said that the collapse of the Soviet Union would deprive the US of its enemy. How right he was? The US was deprived of its chief bogeyman when the Soviet Union imploded. And they cannot very well demonize The Communist Party of China, our chief trading partner and financial co-dependent. So they are reduced to accusing Obama of being a European socialist.
The dynamic here is to demonize Obama based on beliefs not facts. And they have a lot of money to do it with. In many media markets there are no countervailing views. People are left to the imprecations of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. So they hear day in and day out that Obama is A TERRIBLE PRESIDENT, the worst President etc. Knowledgable persons whose voices are hardly consulted might say that Obama's predecessor, George W Bush, was among the worst.
A 2006 Siena College poll of 744 professors reported the following results:
- "George W. Bush has just finished five years as President. If today were the last day of his presidency, how would you rank him? The responses were: Great: 2%; Near Great: 5%; Average: 11%; Below Average: 24%; Failure: 58%."
- "In your judgment, do you think he has a realistic chance of improving his rating?” Two-thirds (67%) responded no; less than a quarter (23%) responded yes; and 10% chose no opinion or not applicable."
Thomas Kelly, professor emeritus of American studies at Siena College, said: "President Bush would seem to have small hope for high marks from the current generation of practicing historians and political scientists. In this case, current public opinion polls actually seem to cut the President more slack than the experts do." Dr. Douglas Lonnstrom, Siena College professor of statistics and director of the Siena Research Institute, stated: "In our 2002 presidential rating, with a group of experts comparable to this current poll, President Bush ranked 23rd of 42 presidents. That was shortly after 9/11. Clearly, the professors do not think things have gone well for him in the past few years. These are the experts that teach college students today and will write the history of this era tomorrow."
A 2010 Siena poll of 238 Presidential scholars found that former president George W. Bush was ranked 39th out of 43, with poor ratings in handling of the economy, communication, ability to compromise, foreign policy accomplishments and intelligence. Meanwhile, the current president, Barack Obama was ranked 15th out of 43, with high ratings for imagination, communication ability and intelligence and a low rating for background (family, education and experience).
Bush doubled the national debt from $5 trillion to $10 trillion by giving tax cuts to the rich, an unfunded prescription drug benefit to seniors which was a giveaway to the pharmaceutical corporations and two unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama took out the leadership of Al Quaeda including Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, brought or is bringing those unfortunate wars to an end and is doing his best to restore Clinton's tax structure which would raise taxes on the rich while keeping tax cuts for the middle class and poor. Obama's health care act, popularly known as Obamacare, would, among other things, end the insurance corporations' policy of rescission which denies insurance to people with pre-exisitng conditions, close the doughnut hole for seniors and keep young people on their parents' policies till age 26, an important consideration in an era of high youth unemployment. The fact is that Bush Jr was cavalier in implementing policies that were not only disastrous for the US including the war he lied us into in Iraq, but also ran up the national debt in a huge way. These policies are still in effect because of Republican filibusters that keep them in effect. Only now Obama is being blamed for them by the right wing talking heads, and using their powers of persuasion, they are doing their best to convince the American people that Obama is a spenthrift who only wants bigger government despite the fact that there have been massive job losses in the public sector and modest gains in the private sector.
So the fictitious President Obama is what Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, Limbaugh, Hannity and all the rest are trying to sell to the US public. They are fueled with billions of dollars from right wing billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson for whom a million or two invested here or there is nothing more than pocket change. With an income of $1 billion a year, which translates to $1000 million a year or $2.7 million a day, these guys can well afford a day's pay to influence elections in their favor. That's pocket change to them. So they associate Obama with Satan. He's supposed to be in league with the devil. They send around emails showing a skunk, half black and half white, and associate that with Obama. There's no depth that they won't sink to to demonize Obama except of course they haven't sunk to the depth of trying to convince us that he's channeling Adolf Hitler. I guess Hitler's considered to be even worse than the devil! And of couse all this is based on statements like "I think that Obama blah blah..." and "I believe that Obama blah blah ...." Nothing based on facts because the facts are quite the opposite of the image they are trying to create
And the truth is that they don't give a rip about all the stuff they try to get the electorate riled up about like the social issues - abortion, birth control, God, gays and guns. These are all smoke screens to hide their real agenda which is tax breaks for the rich, deregulation for corporations and privatization of public schools. Of course they never talk about inequality or the fact that corporations only contribute 8% of Federal revenues instead of the 30% they used to contribute. They don't talk about the fact that the rich pay taxes at a lower rate than the poor. The last thing they want to talk about is the fact that there is $2.5 trillion in the social security trust fund because they want to eliminate social security on the grounds that it is running out of money.
So Obama is terrible, a failure (they love that tag), the worst President in American history based on not facts but beliefs. Except that these intelligent men don't really believe that at all. Just like the lawyer that knows his client is guilty and effectively and skillfully convinces the jury that he really is innocent, right wing talking heads including Republican politicians are trying to draw a picture of Obama as the worst President in American history and then convince you that this belief based reality is the real reality.