The Daily Show interview that President Obama did with Jon Stewart last week wasn’t the only one he did. He was also interviewed by Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo on the Univision Radio network. The main topic of the conversation was immigration reform and how important it is for Latinos to vote in this mid-term election. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
President Obama [POTUS]: …The issues like healthcare reform that we worked on are hugely important to the Latino community. By far, Hispanics are the most likely to work and not have health insurance. The issues of the economy hugely affect the Hispanic community. A lot of them were in construction and when the housing market collapsed, that meant a lot of people were laid off. So it’s not as if the issues that we’re working on are issues that aren’t important to the Latino community. They’re very important. Immigration reform is one of those issues we’re gonna get it done, but I’m gonna continue to need some help from the other side.
Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo [EPS]: When is it going to happen? You will tell me after this.
POTUS: Well, here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna see how well we do in this election and I think a lot of it is gonna depend on whether we still have some support not only from Democrats, but also Republicans, but they’re gonna be paying attention to this election. And if Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, we’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us, if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.
EPS: But how can you ask for their vote now… if, like… most of my listeners, that’s what they see … that you haven’t worked that hard to make comprehensive immigration reform now.
POTUS: Piolín, I completely disagree with you on this. With all due respect, even though I’m in your studio. The notion that we haven’t worked it hard is just not true. There is a notion that somehow if I had worked it hard enough, we could have magically done it. That’s just not the way our system works. If I need 60 votes to get this done, then I’m gonna have to have some support from the other side. If the Latino community decides to sit out this election, then there will be fewer votes and it will be less likely to get done. And the other side, which is fighting against this, is not gonna support it, so look, let me say this as an African American. We worked for decades on civil rights. Civil rights didn’t come after one year. It didn’t come after two years. People had to march, they had to have their heads beaten, they had fire hoses put on them. Even after Dr. King gave his I Have a Dream Speech, it still took years before African Americans achieved full citizenship in this country. Change isn’t easy. It doesn’t happen overnight.
That all makes sense to me, but if you are a member of the opposition, whether or not Obama’s statement makes sense doesn’t matter. What matters is one word that he used; “enemies.” Yes, that’s what the right-wing pundits picked up on, and they used it to build a straw man that they could tear down.
Here’s religious rightwing commentator, Peter Wehner:
…using the word “enemy” to describe members of the opposition party — has become nearly unhinged. For Obama there are, it seems, no honest or honorable critics; they are all dishonest, dishonorable, operating in bad faith, and now, apparently, out-and-out enemies. Mr. Obama’s rhetoric is more scorching toward Republicans than it is toward Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-Il.
And here’s Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen:
Quite a uniter, urging Hispanics to exact political revenge on their enemies – presumably, for example, the near-60% of Americans who support the new Arizona immigration law.
And Charles Krauthammer:
This is how the great post-partisan, post-racial, New Politics presidency ends – not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a desperate election-eve plea for ethnic retribution. Nice.
So they pull a quote of Obama from a discussion about enacting immigration reform in which he referred to his political foes as “enemies” and use it to argue that Obama is “unhinged?” That Obama sees all his critics as “dishonest, dishonorable, operating in bad faith?” Well Jon Stewart is critical of Obama, and I don’t think that Obama would describe Stewart in those terms.
All president’s have political enemies, but I guess it’s only permissible to refer to them as such if you are on the right and talking about your foes on the left. Perhaps he should stick with “political opponents” or “other side,” “those who disagree with us,” or maybe “those other dudes.”
Regardless of his choice of words, he faces a strong opposition that is trying very hard and by any means necessary to stop him. Who are they? Well Krugman wrote about the looming catastrophe that will happen should Republicans control the House and the Senate. If his foes gain power, there will be no compromising to enact reasonable legislation. The Republicans will focus solely on destroying the president. They’ll do it with minority party filibusters and the most egregious form of anti-democratic tactics, the Senate Hold. Krugman quotes of one enemy in particular: Mitch McConnell, who said: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
In addition to McConnell; John Boehner, Sara Palin, Eric Cantor, Richard Shelby, Mary Landrieu, Grover Norquist, Sharron Angle, and Karl Rove are all political enemies of Obama. And to me they are enemies of the state. They want to destroy America as we know it buy giving huge tax breaks to the extremely wealthy. Their goal, as Norquist says, is to “starve the beast.” They want to bankrupt the country so that they can say we can’t afford social safety nets anymore and, if they could gain power of all branches of government, they would gladly undo the New Deal and all the progressive legislation that followed.
Citizens United proved they have gained control of the Supreme Court. Karl Rove played a critical role in building the Roberts court, and now Rove is taking advantage of the most anti-democratic ruling in history to bundle millions of dollars from unnamed donors to sponsor fallacious attack ads against Democrats all across the country.
They are ruthless. They treat those who oppose them mortal enemies and will stop at nothing to destroy them.