Obama says healthcare reform criticism not about racism

US President Barack Obama does not think racism is “the overriding issue” in the fierce debate surrounding health care, but that tempers are rising over government roles in daily life, according to interviews to be broadcast Sunday.

“Are there people out there who don’t like me because of race? I’m sure there are. That’s not the overriding issue here,” Obama insisted in an excerpt of an interview to be broadcast on the CNN show “State of the Union.”

The US leader, in a media blitz to shore-up popular support for health care reform, is taking to all five major Sunday news shows this weekend, after commandeering prime-time television earlier this month with a major address to Congress on the issue.

Obama has been pushed to weigh in on the controversial issue of race after former president Jimmy Carter claimed racism was driving demonstrations and rhetoric on the president’s health care reform plans and spending policy.

“The overwhelming part of the American population” is much more concerned with how the health care reform proposals will affect them, Obama stressed, according to an interview excerpt released by ABC News.

The “biggest driver” for the more intense opposition to his administration’s proposals, Obama told the network’s “This Week” program, is more likely to be from people who are “passionate about the idea of whether government can do anything right.”

The president similarly told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that it is an argument “that’s gone on for the history of this republic — and that is what’s the right role of government? How do we balance freedom with our need to look after one another?”

There has been a long-standing debate in the United States on big power plays from the White House, Obama told CNN, which is “usually that much more fierce during times of transition or when presidents are trying to bring about big changes.”

The kind of vitriol espoused in the 1930s about then US president Franklin Roosevelt “are pretty similar to the things that are said about me — he was a communist, he was a socialist,” Obama said in an excerpt released Friday by CNN.

“Things that were said about (former US president) Ronald Reagan when he was trying to reverse some of the New Deal programs were pretty vicious as well,” he added.

Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs moved this week to calm temperatures after Carter said much of the criticism leveled at Obama, America’s first black president, was the result of racism.

“The president does not believe that the criticism comes based on the color of his skin,” Gibbs said.

In an interview with NBC on Tuesday, 84-year-old Carter said he thought that “an overwhelming proportion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, he’s African-American.”

The debate exploded after Republican lawmaker Joe Wilson shouted “You lie,” at the president during a speech to Congress last week, and thousands protested against Obama administration policies in Washington.

Since then, a succession of Democratic lawmakers and political columnists have warned that the heckling and other overt signs of public disapproval not only foster a dangerous climate but also reflect underlying racial bias.

4 thoughts on “Obama says healthcare reform criticism not about racism

  1. Why is so much hatred being hurled toward President Obama? That’s a no-brainer!

    He’s a Kenyan born Arab terrorist who wants to bring DEATH PANELS to this grand and glorious land of ours so he can pull the plugs on Granny and Gramps.

    HE’S A LEFT WING SOCIALIST whose education was funded by the American Communist Party, MoveOn.Org, Barbara Streisand and Ed Asner.

    He named his daughters Sasha and Malia – YO! WHAT’S UP WITH THAT???

    He would prefer to have dinner with Mahatma Gandhi over Ronald Reagan. RONALD REAGAN!!!

    He wants to start a TROTSKY FOR TOTS program for our children.

    He’s just an evil person!

    EVIL, I SAY!


    My fellow Americans, heed my warning.

    The Big, Black, Bolshevik Bogeyman is gonna git’cha!

    It has not a thing to do with race.

    I am a white person. I would not lie to you.

    But seriously, folks….


    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

  2. I hope he truly believes that. I think there is far too much racism left in America. On both sides of the coin. I wrote an essay last night after reading scores of comments on Washington Post articles that demonstrated overt racism. I even received a private email from another blogger who appauled the President for “calling a spade a spade.” When I chided him for winking at a racist idiom he responded with “I should have said half spade.”

    People need to move on and grow their brains a bit more. While I feel racism is not driving health care opposition I think it might represent maybe 15-20% of the opposition.

      • Why did they compare Bush to Hitler. People who hate don’t think through their comparisons. They slap on the worst label they can think of and hope everyone believes they had good reasons and shares their hate/fear.

        For Bush they wanted us to believe he had world domination as his goal and with Obama they want us to believe he has FEMA internment camps and death panels for the elderly.

        Bush never took over the world but he did throw an evil dictator out of a minor third world country. Obama isn’t done but I’ll be mighty surprised if he ever herds us into camps. Certainly there will never be any official “death panels,” but who can predict the ultimate outcome of the health care debate.

        The worst threat he poses in my mind is the threat to our fiscal stability. This is the problem with allowing one party to dominate the executive and legislative branches of government. They lose all sense of reason and self control. They chase a hundred years worth of dreams and desires and attempt to cram them into 4 years. After all this might their last opportunity in decades. They miss that pursuing too many fundamental changes at one time in itself may shorten their window of opportunity.

        And so the opposition, feeling helpless and out of power throws their biggest stones. Not unlike school children.

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