Why Obama still drives Republicans nuts

His eulogy for John Lewis was typically soaring. The reaction on the right was furious.

Barack Obama.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

Last week, a former president gave a speech in which he described the United States as a country dedicated to high ideals and striving to "form a more perfect union," and he called on Americans to support reforms that would help to ensure more equal representation for all. In response, members of the opposing party said that this former president was promoting "communist terrorist propaganda," and labeled him "cynical," "divisive and partisan," a "national disgrace," and "one of the sleaziest and most dishonest figures in the history of American politics."

I'm talking, of course, about Barack Obama's eulogy for civil rights icon John Lewis — and the unhinged reaction of right-wing journalists and media personalities to it. The context is what made that reaction so astonishing. We're three-and-a-half years into an administration defined by constantly dividing the country between those who support the current president and everyone else, who are often denigrated as haters and losers and "enemies of the people." More proximally, last week was one when Donald Trump suggested postponing the 2020 presidential election and promised (white) suburban voters that he would protect them from being "bothered" by poor people moving into their neighborhoods and lowering their property values. That was the context for Republicans taking offense at Obama for daring to suggest that "we can do better."

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