JONATHAN CHAIT SEPTEMBER 1, 2011
Shelby Steele today has an extremely amusing broadside against President Obama. The general flavor is captured well in its opening:
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times: President Obama is destroying the country. Some say this destructiveness is intended; most say it is inadvertent, an outgrowth of inexperience, ideological wrong-headedness and an oddly undefined character.
So you can see that Steele really takes in the full spectrum of viewpoints.
Perhaps the most interesting quality of this particular column is that it is an vaporous emission of generalized complaints against Obama and the left -- they hate America, and so on -- lacking any grounding whatsoever. I was able to identify one sentence containing anything close to a concrete reference to an actual decision or statement by Obama:
Mr. Obama did not explicitly run on an anti-exceptionalism platform. Yet once he was elected it became clear that his idea of how and where to apply presidential power was shaped precisely by this brand of liberalism. There was his devotion to big government, his passion for redistribution, and his scolding and scapegoating of Wall Street—as if his mandate was somehow to overcome, or at least subdue, American capitalism itself.
This is the sum of the specific references to Obama's record in Steele's column: he hates America because he criticized Wall Street. Does Steele realize how many Americans hate America by this standard?
In any case, there's no other reference to anything Obama has done. It's an entire column built on the assumption that Obama is a radical leftist who hates America. Apparently everybody Steele talks to believes this anyway, so why bother to demonstrate it?