Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sarah Palin plays the "Hussein" card again

Here's a quick quiz for you:

What is the middle name of Ronald Reagan?
What is the middle name of Sarah Palin?
What is the middle name of John McCain?

If you don't know all of those, don't feel bad. Most people don't. The correct answers, in order, are Wilson, Louise and Sidney. What about this one:

What is the middle name of Barack Obama?

If you guessed "Hussein", that's because everybody knows it. Primarily because he has frequently been referred to by his political opponents as "Barack Hussein Obama".

Now here's another question for you. How often to Democratic politicians refer to "Sarah Louise Palin", or "John Sidney McCain"?

They don't, to any real extent, because no one thinks their middle names are relevant, or that the mention of their middle names enhances the political debate at all.

Why then, do Republicans and their Tea Partier friends love to constantly mention the name "Hussein"?

An example from Sarah Palin this week:

She says: "Funny … that we are learning more about Christine O'Donnell and her college years, her teenage years, and her financial dealings than anybody even bothered to ask about Barack Hussein Obama as a candidate and now as our president."

(You'll notice that she didn't mention Christine O'Donnell's middle name in that sentence either.)

Is it because there is some other Barack Obama running around, and we need to use the middle name to avoid confusing between Barack Hussein Obama, the President, and Barack Nigel Obama, the electrician?
Of course not.

Make no mistake, it is plain as day why Palin and her ilk make use of that name. It is to emphasise the Muslim-ness and foreign-ness of the President, to encourage Americans to associate him with the evil Iraqi dictator that the US has just overthrown. And while being Muslim, or at least being seen as a Muslim, should not be a slur, in the current US political climate it is effectively a slur, and a particularly potent one.

Of course, Palin's defenders can easily rebut, "well, it IS his name, what is wrong with saying it?"

Which is of course, the same "nudge nudge, wink wink" game that the Right have been playing ever since Obama first emerged as a Presidential candidate. They have perfected the art of dog-whistling at the American public by continually depicting him as The Other in various ways, without saying outright that they are threatened by his ethnicity. (In addition to all those numerous Tea Partiers and others who just can't hold it in and have dispensed with any subtlety in how they decry Obama's alleged foreignness.)

This is the game the Republicans are playing, because it's pretty much all they've got. They'll struggle to effectively attack him on economic policy because, having themselves presided over its downfall, they don't have much credibility left right now in that area. No folks, it's going to be all about Obama's credentials as a "real American", for the next couple of years at least. And the scary thing is that it may lead to the election in 2012 of someone who many consider to be a PROPER "real American"- Sarah Palin herself.

Be very, very f*cking afraid.


  1. This is true. I know Obama's middle name and I am not sure if I know all of the other presidents' first names! (Ok, I probably do know them... But their opponents/presidential candidates? No way!)

  2. Richard Milhous Nixon is the only presidential middle name I know. Its worth noting that even after all the controversy President Obama did mention his last name during inauguration. Don't know if that's tradition.