Jimmy Carter should know better than to just say what various columnists, politicians, and random people on the street have been saying for weeks now. You know, that race is informing the hysterical response to Obama's policy proposals.
But to answer your question, Mr. Drudge: it is in part because he's black, yes. And it's also because he represents the emergence of an urban elite/black/immigrant/gay/poor coalition that poses a threat to the rural/suburban white Christians who've been told for a century that they are Real America, making this guy who is patently not a member of that group a False American.*
"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 told NBC in an interview. "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, particularly African Americans"
Continued Carter: "And that racism inclination still exists. . . . It's an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply."
"I think it's based on racism," Mr. Carter said at a town-hall-style meeting at his presidential center in Atlanta. "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president."
"Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care," he said. "It's deeper than that."
It's funny because all of that is obviously true. But no one wants to hear it from Jimmy Carter! As Michael Tomasky explains, it is a Bad Idea in Politics to Tell the Truth, because it is called a "gaffe," and it seldom goes over well.
So this is the stupid state of our stupid discourse. To say the intensity of the opposition to Barack Obama indicates a deep vein of racial prejudice and the right is obviously purposefully stoking race-based paranoia as they have done more or less openly since Nixon is met with I can't believe you're calling everyone who opposes the President a white-hooded racist who wants to lynch him.
The best part is that even if you don't think Joe Wilson shouted "you lie" at Barack Obama because he hates black people, there's no way to spin the fact that the portion of the black man's speech that upset him so much was the imagined prospect of filthy Mexicans getting health care. Not that we'd accuse people who are completely obsessed with illegal immigration of being motivated by racism, but they sure do hate Mexicans a lot.
But, you know, no one wants Jimmy Carter to say anything, ever.
*We coastal elites do so enjoy repeating and mocking the "Real America" thing, all the time, in the sneering sort of tone that we are famous for, but for the life of us we cannot imagine liberals seriously calling anyone False Americans. Not Reagan, not Bush, not even Cheney. There was lots of "he's not MY president" and "not in our name" and "a village in Texas is missing its idiot" and even some half-hearted succession talk but everyone acknowledged that Bush was obviously, uniquely American in his own foul way. Which is both liberal inclusiveness (everyone gets to be a part of America!) and that jaded realism about America's history and make believe "innocence" that makes conservatives like Peggy Noonan gravitate to genial fools like Reagan. (We produce monsters too! They're not all born in Kenya!) Anyway this was neither here not there just something we were think about.