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Carter 'Racism' Claim Draws Widespread Criticism
President Obama's supporters have attributed racist motives to opponents of his health care plan for weeks, but former President Jimmy Carter is the highest-profile person to push that claim.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Former President Jimmy Carter drew widespread criticism Wednesday for saying that Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie!" outburst last week was "based on racism" and that an "overwhelming portion" of similar demonstrations against President Obama are rooted in bigotry.

Obama's supporters have attributed racist motives to some opponents of his health care plan for weeks, but Carter is the highest-profile person so far to push that claim.

While some anti-Obama demonstrators have been seen carrying over-the-top or racially offensive signs, administration critics say Carter is flat wrong to claim that those fringe protesters make up the bulk of Obama's detractors.

"I don't see race as an issue. It's all about the policies that are coming out of the current administration," said Deneen Borelli, a black conservative who spoke at the protest rally held in Washington Saturday. Much of the condemnation of Obama's critics has come as a response to that protest, where tens of thousands demonstrated against big government and over-spending.

"I just see this as the race card being used once again to distract the American people from the core issues," Borelli said.

The White House, too, distanced itself from Carter's comments.

"The president does not believe that that criticism comes based on the color of his skin," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.

But, Carter againWednesday repeated what he said a day before.

"I think people are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama, have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happened to be African American," Carter said during a town hall meeting in Atlanta.

Adam Brandon, spokesman for protest organizer FreedomWorks, said Carter's comments were "absurd." He noted that last Saturday's protest featured about a dozen black speakers.

"To say this crowd was racist is absolutely absurd when black speakers were probably the most popular speakers," he said.

"I think it's very destructive for America to suggest that we can't criticize a president without it being a racial act," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told FOX News.

The suggestion that race is behind criticism of Obama has been made by New York Gov. David Paterson and Reps. Charlie Rangel of New York, Diane Watson of California and Hank Johnson of Georgia, among others.

But a poll released Wednesday by Rasmussen Reports showed that just 12 percent of voters believe that most opponents of Obama's health care reform plan are racist. The survey of 1,000 likely voters, taken Monday and Tuesday, found that 67 percent disagree with that contention, while 21 percent are not sure. The survey had a margin of error of 3 percent.

Carter, though, said in an interview with NBC that race is the driving factor.

"I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African American," Carter said. "I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way and I've seen the rest of the country that shared the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time ... and I think it's bubbled up to the surface, because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country."

At a town hall at his presidential center in Atlanta Tuesday, Carter also said Wilson's outburst -- the South Carolina Republican shouted "You lie!" at Obama during his health care address to Congress -- was racially motivated.

"I think it's based on racism," Carter said in response to an audience question. "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president."

Wilson's eldest son stepped up to his father's defense.

"There is not a racist bone in my dad's body," said Alan Wilson, an Iraq War veteran who is running for state attorney general in South Carolina. "He doesn't even laugh at distasteful jokes. I won't comment on former President Carter, because I don't know President Carter. But I know my dad, and it's just not in him. ... It's unfortunate people make that jump."

South Carolina's former Democratic Party chairman said that he doesn't believe Wilson was motivated by racism, but said the outburst encouraged racist views.

"I think Joe's conduct was asinine, but I think it would be asinine no matter what the color of the president," said Dick Harpootlian, who has known Wilson for decades. "I don't think Joe's outburst was caused by President Obama being African-American. I think it was caused by no filter being between his brain and his mouth."

Daniel Hannan, a conservative British politician and member of the European Parliament whose public criticism of the British health care system has drawn international attention, said Wednesday that there's unavoidably some "element of racism" in the most aggressive criticism of Obama. But that's not the majority.

"The overwhelming majority of critics of the president are not motivated by any personal dislike but have reached the view that he's making a mistake and he's indebting the country, that he's enlarging the federal government at the expense of both of the state and of the citizens," Hannan told FOX News. "I hope (Carter) thinks again about that phrase ... It really isn't a race thing."

Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said she, too, didn't think Wilson's outburst was race-related.

"I think there's a lot of opposition, visceral opposition to his policies, but the reality is that this president won, he won with an overwhelming majority of support across the board from the American people and not not just from African-Americans, and it is time for us to move on and get down to the business of making the kind of change that the president outlined when he won the election last year," she said.

But several Obama supporters say they worry that racism is not only at the core, but could lead to worse incidents than a shout on the House floor.

People will be putting on "white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside" if emerging racist attitudes, like those subtly supported by Wilson, are not rebuked, Johnson said.


A wise move on the part of the White House to distance themselves from Carter.


I smell desperation and it smells good. However,I'm one of those who would have liked to have seen REAL healthcare reform but,once again,it will be sidestepped. Frankly,I think "healthcare reform" as it is commonly understood,may be impossible in a free market system. A system that delivers the most advanced healthcare technology in the world to 85% of it's citizenry may be as close as we can get. Some salutory improvements such as prohibiting pre-condition exclusions and arbitrary cancellations will result in increased premiums. There can never be a free ride. Increasing real competition among insurers can help but if the Co-op plans turn out to be nothing but a publicly funded plan that undermines private coverage, people and employers will flock to that,overburden it,and the chaos and rationing inherent in socialized medicine will be the result. Just an opinion, but it seems to me the only way to reduce the price of anything is to increase supply. We need MORE doctors,nurses,lab techs, and support staff. A massive effort to educate and attract people in these fields would seem a good plan,but like anything worthwhile,not easy to do, and lacking the "magic wand" results people are so desirous of.

rosco 357

this has no facts behind it, just my thoughts on the senate finance committee version, and i have not read on this in 24 hours, but this version being the big dog on the porch, i think maybe it will be tweaked just enough to get the votes it needs to pass, but again i have not saw any of the lastest news on this all is just a guess. i do know Max Backus is trying to straddle the fence on this, and will need to give here and there but it may not work, but if something passes the house which is tough with the blue dogs,,, obama has dusted off the budget reconciliation card, so if he can squeak out a vote in the house, he will work on the 51 votes he will need in the senate.. since olympia snow has backed off her support, his only option is the reconciliation way to pass it, to make it filibustered proof in the senate, , but using this since he has no repubs anyway he has nothing to loose,since the senate has a odd number of senators, im not sure how biddens vote will work, i need to study this,, i know he can vote in a tie, but i am not up to speed on how he votes since a odd number cant produce a ties, as gore did to pass clintons tax on the wealth, but again i have not even read the news today,so many things may have happened and it may be dead, i do know reid cant support it as it is now, or Rockefeller, take care


From what I read about Backus no one is supporting him very much, he has loads of taxes for the middle class and both sides have voiced opposition about it.


On the original topic of "racism", I heard Obama give a down to earth,creditable account of what he feels are the real concerns of the American people. On ABC news, he said (paraphrased) "Stephanopolous: "Does it frustrate you that allies in this debate such as pres. Carter see racism in places where you don't see it at play?" Obama: "Well,look, I think that race is such a volatile issue in this society...that it becomes hard for people to separate out race being a part of the backdrop of American society and race being part of any given debate. Are there people who don't like me because of my race? I'm sure there are. Are there some who support me only because of my race? There are probably (?) some of those too. The overwhelming part of the American population following this debate are asking "Is this gonna help me? Is healthcare (reform as proposed) gonna make me better off?" There are some who I believe are more passionate about the question whether government can do anything right. And I think that is the biggest driver of some of the vitriol". /// (I agree 100%)

rosco 357

SSC wrote:From what I read about Backus no one is supporting him very much, he has loads of taxes for the middle class and both sides have voiced opposition about it.

im sure ur correct like i said have not read on it, i do know it puts taxes on expensive health plans ppl have,like maybe unions have , so thats a problem, i forget the numbers, but no matter, i dont have a clue to the how much my company pays, if i fell into that catagorie i would not mind paying more if it gave me a back up, but just wednesday they told me our logistics guy said we just recieved the largest order we ever have gotten , and its what i do, from the numbers i heard there will need to be 2 or 3 of me, lol, so maybe im a bit more safe on my healthcare,

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