Retiring Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller unloaded on Republicans during a hearing today. He said that Republicans don’t want anything good to happen for this president because he’s the wrong color.
During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on transportation funding, Sen. Rockefeller (D-WV) said, “It’s an American characteristic that you don’t do anything which displeases the voters, because you always have to get reelected here. I understand part of it. It has to do with — for some, it’s just we don’t want anything good to happen under this president, because he’s the wrong color.”
Rockefeller admitted that he is mad at himself for not speaking up about a lot of things earlier, and he criticized his colleagues for putting their own political self interest ahead of making the tough decisions to do what is right.
It is one thing for a senator to hint as these kinds of racial motivations for opposing President Obama on cable news, but it is quite another to do so on the record during a Senate hearing. Obama is now well into his second year of his second term, so the Republican opposition is no longer about getting this president out of office.
There is some self-interest at work, as obstructing Obama looks good to the Republican voters back in red states, but one gets the sense that Rockefeller is correct. Republicans oppose Obama because they don’t want to see anything good happen for the nation’s first African American president.
The Republican obstruction has reached the point where this is no longer about the color of President Obama’s skin. Racism has seeped into the Republican Party itself, and Democrats are battling a political culture of race based policy justifications that the GOP has adopted. From budget architect Paul Ryan to the party’s irrational opposition to immigration reform, Republicans have moved from raced based opposition to Obama to raced based opposition to non-whites.
Something ugly has emerged from the Republican Party. What began as racial opposition to President Obama has turned into a pattern of behavior that Democrats may have to call out and battle in the years to come.