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Subtle Racism: The Double Standard

Updated on December 25, 2019
The President of the United States
The President of the United States | Source

December 2019: An Update

I originally published this article in June of 2015. Things have changed since then — for example, we have elected an utter buffoon to the White House in 2016. As a result, I wanted to go back into this article, update things, clean up the text and the narrative a bit, and see where I could improve upon the article. I hope I have succeeded!

Ukraine (Crimea shown in red)
Ukraine (Crimea shown in red) | Source

Political Double Standards

Russia invaded Crimea, a portion of Ukraine, between February and March of 2014. The posturing prior to the invasion is very similar — virtually identical — to the posturing prior to the invasion of the former Soviet state of Georgia in August 2008. The posturing after the invasion is very similar — virtually identical — to the posturing after the invasion of Georgia as well.

What is different is that...

  • When Putin's Russia invaded Georgia, George W. Bush (a white Republican) was President of the United States. When this happened, the Republican party rallied behind the people of Georgia and condemned Vladimir Putin as a dictatorial leader with delusions of returning Russia to its glory days of the Soviet Union.
  • When Putin's Russia invaded Crimea, Barack H. Obama (a black Democrat) was President of the United States. The Republican party rallied behind Vladimir Putin and condemned Barack Obama as a weak President, going so far as to blame him for the invasion.

Read that again.

Like everything else, it would seem that Vladimir Putin's decision to invade a foreign country was President Barack Obama's fault. I wish this were something limited to the talking heads we so often see on the news. But in 2014, in the age of the internet (an age when anyone can share their opinion on this sort of thing) the whole of the Republican Party gave their assessment of the situation.

Now, it's my turn.

A Little Background

When I first wrote this article, it was in response to an article written by someone who goes by the name The Frog Prince. That article was, in my personal opinion, a personal attack on the President.

To be fair, we live in the United States of America. As such, if you want to write a personal attack against the President, then by all means — write one. Do not be surprised, however, when someone has a different opinion; do not get angry and vitriolic when they express it.

The initial article I wrote is gone. In the end, it is not worth my time to show how one man has a biased double-standard. It is far more important and fruitful to show how all of modern American Politics does.

The Obama Elections

Many people, it seems, cannot handle the fact that Barack Obama won the election in 2008 and again in 2012. In 2008, then Senator Obama ran against John McCain; in 2012, President Obama ran against Mitt Romney.

2008: Obama vs. McCain

When the candidates were chosen for the 2008 Presidential Election, many could see the handwriting on the wall: McCain did not have a chance. His days of being a 'maverick' were behind him. Had he gotten the nomination during his 2000 run, he may have been able to rally enough of a national vote to get elected. His Gallup Poll ratings were consistently high (approaching 70% at times). The Republican primary of 2000 was described as a "low water mark in Presidential campaigns" and "a painful symbol of the brutality of American Politics." But through the intervening eight years, McCain had become a rubber stamp for George W. Bush. His reputation as a man who would stage "a fight to take our government back from the power brokers and special interests, and return it to the people and the noble cause of freedom it was created to serve"was in serious question.

Still, the Senator from Illinois was a relative unknown. Most people leading up to the election were fairly certain that the nomination was a lock for Hillary Clinton. As Barack Obama moved up in the rankings, and eventually won the nomination, it came as a shock to many. The criticisms of Hillary Clinton were well known. The Republican establishment had plenty of ammunition to throw at her if she had gotten the nomination. When it came to Barack Obama, they had nothing to work with initially. But this would not last. The types of criticism expressed against Barack Obama were as unprecedented as they were completely fabricated.

  • He is not an American [{link} and {link}]. From nearly his first day as the presumptive nominee, the political right has claimed Barack Obama is not an American citizen; as such, he cannot be a candidate for — let alone hold the office of — President of the United States. This has been proven false on numerous occasions. Even after his birth certificate was made publicly available (something no President in history has had to do), the claims that he was born in Kenya and is a Kenyan Citizen remain. Forget the fact that his mother is an American citizen, making her child a citizen no matter where he was born. After all, John McCain was not born in the United States, either.
  • He is a Muslim [{link}]. Barack Obama is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, an African American Church with more than 8,500 members. This did not matter to the political right who would claim (and continue to claim) he is a Muslim. At no time in the history of America has a Presidential candidate had his professed religion called into question. Until Barack Obama.
  • He is a radical, anti-American [{link}]. Citing sermons given by his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the political right began attacking Obama indirectly by stating that, as a member of the church, everything his pastor said, Barack Obama must fully agree with. Besides being a ridiculous claim, it remains a standard that has only ever been applied to Barack Obama. It is also in stark contrast to the claims that he is a Muslim...
  • He is a community organizer [{link}]. For some reason, a fairly well-to-do black man spending his time attempting to elevate the living standards of inner-city families is a bad thing. I still get headaches trying to wrap my head around this logic.

2012: Obama vs. Romney

Mitt Romney received the Republican nomination in 2012. Criticisms surrounding his membership in the Church of Latter Day Saints (and work as within the LDS leadership) was considered by most to be a non-starter. So despite the fact that he was a leader in the LDS church while non-whites were barred from being officers of the church was not considered racism on his part, while cries of Barack Obama's ties to Rev. Jeremiah Wright were.

Mitt Romney's expressed positions in the 2012 Presidential campaign were in stark contrast to his record as a Governor of Massachusetts. Still, any attempt to tie his record as Governor to his stances as proclaimed were shrugged off. Meanwhile, Barack Obama's papers written in college (which turned out to be a fiction created by a right-wing blogger) were considered to have merit in adjudicating the man.

Not only did every criticism of the first election resurface — he is an anti-American former community organizer and Muslim extremist who believes every word Rev. Write says — this election has a lot more rhetorical fluff come into the picture.

Rhetorical fluff is language used to create an emotional response while not saying anything. This is not new; such language has been used for the whole of political races in United States history. As the record of Barack Obama becomes more clear, this form of attack on the President becomes more common. What is truly frightening, however, is that it often comes with a comparison to his rival of two years ago, making this an extreme case of sore loser. For example:

  • Mitt Romney is an adult; Barack Obama is a kid.
    What does this mean?
    It means: the right likes Mitt Romney and does not like Barack Obama.
  • Mitt Romney has life experience; Barack Obama has no experience.
    What does this mean?
    It means: the right respects the experience they believe Mitt Romney has and does not respect the experience they believe Barack Obama has.
  • Mitt Romney has the ability to think and reason logically; Barack Obama is clueless about the way things really work in the business world or the world of geopolitics.
    What does this mean?
    It means: some people on the right are clueless about the way things really work and have recently watched the news and heard terms like 'geopolitics' bandied about.

The Affordable Care Act

After becoming President in 2008, Barack Obama had had no legislation that was as important as the Affordable Care Act. This overhaul of the United States Health Services industry was modeled directly on the bill passed in Massachusetts under then Governor Mitt Romney.

Still, its most vocal critic was Mitt Romney.

I have tried to find an example of a politician passing a bill written by the opposition, then having that opposition thrash him or her publicly for passing such an abomination. I cannot find one.

Honestly, these bills are almost identical. Observe:

Individual Mandate
Penalty for not buying insurance
Employer Mandate
Yes (50+ employees)
Yes (11+ employees)
Penalties for employer not providing insurance
Subsidized Insurance
Yes (up to 400% of poverty level)
Yes (up to 300% of poverty level; free up to 150% of poverty level)
Young adults
Children can stay on plan up to age 26
Children can stay on plan up to age 26, or until they are no longer dependent for two years (whichever comes first)
Benefit Limits
Not forbidden (most Mass. insurers do not place limits)
Retroactive rescinding of coverage
Pre-existing Conditions
Insurers required to cover
Insurers required to cover; can limit some conditions to six months of coverage
Preventive Care
Co-pay; must be covered without deductable
Not mentioned

Military Spending

So much of the criticism of Barack Obama boils down to I really wish Mitt Romney had won the election in 2012 that I sometimes wonder why it never seems to include I really wish John McCain had won the election in 2008. One of the more insidious criticisms of Barack Obama dealt with his proposed budget for FY2014 (submitted on April 10, 2013). In his initial proposal, the spending on the armed forces would be reduced by 5.9%.

The typical phrases used to describe the cuts are:

This is the classic Neo-Con argument:

The Democrat / boogie man is trying to gut the defense of this nation, reducing the troops to an absolutely dangerous bare bones level.

I read this sort of claim all the time. Each and every time I am amazed that anyone can possibly believe this. Consider: The military spending by this nation is the highest of any nation in the world. In fact, it is higher than any dozen nations in the world combined.

Look at it this way, in 2013 (the year to which this comparison was made):

  • the United States of America had a population of 316 million people
  • the World had a population of 7.2 billion people
  • thus, the United States comprised approximately 4.4% of the world's population

Then consider, in 2013 (the year to which this comparison was made):

This means, in in 2013:

  • the World (not including the United States) spent $164 per person on its various militaries
  • the United States of America spent $2,130 per person on its military
  • thus, the United States outspent the world by a ratio of almost 13:1.

If we were to reduce our military spending by 90% we would still be out spending the rest of the world by a significant margin.

Nobody — no Democrat, no former President, no sitting member of our government — is suggesting anything so drastic. None have suggested anything that can be described as gutting the defense of this nation to an absolutely dangerous bare bones level. You would have to be a moron (or insane) to think this.

The budget proposed a 5.9% reduction in military spending. While serving as Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney proposed a 25% reduction. This was not considered dangerous, a gutting, or bare bones by the Republican party or its zealots.

Why is the President's proposal considered so dangerous, I wonder?

Too Much of the Pie
Too Much of the Pie | Source


There are other examples. They truly are too numerous to get into. The most recent is Ukraine:

  • Russia invades Georgia, shame on Vladimir Putin.
  • Russia invades Crimea, shame of Barack Obama.

This could be Republican / Democrat vitriol. But I am not sure. I implore you to do some research. Look up the myriad ways President Barack Obama was held to an impossible standard. Given the level of vile commentary in modern American discourse since his election, I think it has more to do with the color of his skin than the content of his character.

Am I right?

Am I right about all of this?

See results


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    • KDLadage profile imageAUTHOR

      K David Ladage 

      4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA

      1. Economy -- according to the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research (the official arbiter of U.S. recessions), that particular recession started Dec 2007, and ended Jun 2009 (19 months). The recession most decidedly did not end before Bush left office.

      2. Global Warming -- I agree that the United States is not the single most egregious offender. But I have heard that many nations see the United States as a leader on the global stage. Seems to me that if we start, and only if we start, we can then convince others to follow. Makes sense, no?

      3. Iraq -- The timeline for withdrawal was set during the Bush Administration. Now, unless you want a President unilaterally deciding that treaties, agreements, and so on that were set and signed prior to his administration are just not valid, he had two choices: {1} follow the time-table, or {2} bring all of the parties to the table and tell them why he is going to ignore said time-table and negotiate another one. Neither of these seems like a tenable place to begin; following the existing, pre-negotiated time-table was (at the time) a reasonable thing to do. We can 20/20 hindsight this all we want. Does not change things, though.

      4. Relations with Russia... I cover this one (partially) in the article above. I will say this: Russia is not Bush's fault. Russia is not Obama's fault. Russia is Putin's fault. There are some people with which you simply cannot deal. I firmly believe Putin to be one of those people.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      4 years ago from Ohio, USA

      I accept your kind words about sky color. I think it's blue above both of us.

      I won't name 4 things 'demonstrably the fault of Obama' because very little is the fault of any individual president. The entire government machine is usually to blame. A Pres, like a quarterback, gets too much blame and too much simple minded credit from most uninformed citizens.

      Here are 4 things that BHO happily blamed on the previous administration (Bush) instead of asserting himself as Commander-in-Chief and owning his office:

      1. Economy. The recession ended before Bush left office.

      2. Global Warming. Anyone not marching to the beat of MSNBC knows that China and India pump out more carbon than the Bush Administration, and those folks each want a Buick, which will make things worse regardless of who lives in the White House.

      3. Iraq. Kinda got worse since Obama pulled us out.

      4. Relations with Russia (remember the "Reset" button?)

    • KDLadage profile imageAUTHOR

      K David Ladage 

      4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA

      Actually, let me say this. My comment about the color of the sky was, upon further reflection, not a valid one. My apologies. But let us settle this as rational individuals who are seeing things from opposing viewpoints.

      I have, in this article, shown how some very similar situations were treated by the people in the GOP and the media very differently for GWB and BHO. You have made a claim that BHO spent a lot of time, as you put it:

      "BHO spent 4 years, his entire first term, blaming Bush for his problems."

      Please list four items that were demonstrably the fault of President Obama, that were blamed -- by the Obama Administration -- on President Bush.

    • KDLadage profile imageAUTHOR

      K David Ladage 

      4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA

      Halmark of Liberalism? Have you listened to the GOP for the last 6+ years?

      And I am not making an attack on anyone. What I said was:

      "If 'pointing out that the right is lying' is, in your world, 'blaming bush for his problems' then you need open your eyes and take a good long look at the world. Because I am quite sure that the sky in your world is not blue."

      In other words, a person capable of making that argument is not seeing reality. In my opinion.

      Oh, and I am not a liberal. I am a fiscal conservative, social moderate. I do not believe in the party system. I hate Democrat and Republican alike for creating the majority of the mess we are in.

      And I am not blaming the media. I am blaming those that, in the first few years of a new Presidency would blame that Presidency for the consequences of the eight years that preceded it.

      And best I can tell, race has a big part in that.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      4 years ago from Ohio, USA

      "Because I am quite sure that the sky in your world is not blue."

      Attack the messenger. A hallmark of Liberalism.

      Anyway, your attempt to re-frame the debate to blame the 'media' is truly a hoot. Obama blamed Bush at every turn in every press conference, when he deigned to speak to the press. Stick to the topic at hand: the bogeyman 'media' is not at issue.

    • FitnezzJim profile image


      4 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      My sky is blue with white and grey clouds at the moment. The weather changes every minute though, so it may be different by the time the next person looks.

      The weather is sort of like politics that way. You can see what you have, and can always talk about the goodness of it in comparison to what went before. The one thing that remains true though, is that you never know for sure what you are going to get next.

      Just saying.

    • KDLadage profile imageAUTHOR

      K David Ladage 

      4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA

      Nicomp, please do some research.

      In teh first few years of President Obama's first term, the right kept saying "look at this over here!" and "look at that over there!" and blaming the president for those issues. What was said by the left is "this over here" and "that over there" are things that President Bush did, not president Obama.

      If "pointing out that the right is lying" is, in your world, "blaming bush for his problems" then you need open your eyes and take a good long look at the world. Because I am quite sure that the sky in your world is not blue.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      4 years ago from Ohio, USA

      What a hoot. BHO spent 4 years, his entire first term, blaming Bush for his problems. Dems blithely overlook that.

      It's OK. Obama means well.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      You've maaengd a first class post

    • profile image

      big daddy oreo 

      6 years ago

      Black skin would make a man look stronger.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      I totally agree with your analysis, KDLadage. The Republicans blame President Obama for everything but they supported much of it under other administrations. It is all politically motivated. They want to gin up their base and get out their vote. Demonize the other. It is completely base and cynical. I hope this tendency changes soon though the trend is moving the other way. Excellent Hub.

    • lovemychris profile image

      Leslie McCowen 

      6 years ago from Cape Cod, USA

      Or else the one who insults people so viciously can't handle the same.

      Either way: it really stinks!

    • lovemychris profile image

      Leslie McCowen 

      6 years ago from Cape Cod, USA

      Ahhhhh, that explains it. And then the nice one comes on and ridicules your whole thesis...but in a nice way.....

      That's how they do it around here.

      DO NOT deviate from them--you will pay.

      Also a lot of them like to say they're Independent, but always bash Obama and praise Bush.

      God knows why HP lets them rule.....must be higher-up muckety-muck types.

      Its ok...I'm waiting for explanation...will get it one way or another.

      Your hub is right on the money.

    • KDLadage profile imageAUTHOR

      K David Ladage 

      6 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA

      For info: someone (or multiple someones) reported the original article as "hate speech" or "personal attack" -- so all of the previous comments had to be removed when the article was re-written.

    • lovemychris profile image

      Leslie McCowen 

      6 years ago from Cape Cod, USA

      Of course it should. He is historically the first black president, ever! To ignore the history black people have had in this country, and how it affects their view on the first black president is ridiculous.

      Lets be real.

      Sugar coating is never the way to fix anything.

      And I disagree that "we all want the best for everybody"

      Plenty of people only want the best for those who can afford it.

      lets see if this comment makes it thu.....sheeeeesh.

    • FitnezzJim profile image


      6 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      Well written article, hope to see more.

      We don't have to all agree all the time. It’s just a shame that so many of us have been schooled by our current leadership to declare ‘racism’ as a way to gain a debate advantage in what should be reasonable discussion. That said, some comments to consider on the article are:

      The campaign rhetoric of 2008 and 2012 is typical of every election back to the sixties. In fact, it may be milder given that the assassinations have stopped. Where we shout at each other today, prior generations shot at each other.

      With respect to HealthCare, comparing a State Health Care Law to a Federal Health Care Law misses the point. We all want to see people have access to the best medical care available. What some don’t want is for that care to be imposed on us at the federal level, nor a federal bureaucracy running it or imposing regulations on HealthCare decisions. Bureaucrats are what they are, you give them a smidgeon of authority and they will eventually elevate it to the point where they feel like they don’t have to answer to Congress, or any other authority. That is a fact that we see playing out today.

      The discussion on racism should not be about this President.


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