Gail Collins on Republicans and "Anti-Colonial" Obama

Gail Collins

New York Times columnist Gail Collins is joining The Leonard Lopate Show every Tuesday until Election Day to share some of the ridiculous and weird things politicians have said in the past week. She joined this week from Alaska, where Senator Lisa Murkowski is weighing an independent write-in campaign after losing last month to political newcomer and Tea Party favorite Joe Miller in the Republican primary.

Collins says mainstream Republican losses like Murkoski's have caused the GOP to ratchet up their unusual anti-Obama rhetoric.

You do get the feeling that many of theses national Republicans are so terrified of these people and so completely at a loss to understand how they got that way, that they’re running around shrieking desperately.

Collins pointed to Newt Gingrich in particular. He was asked last weekend about Dinesh D’Souza’s recent article for Forbes magazine that argues that if you want to understand how President Obama thinks, you should look at his alleged “anti-colonial” roots. Collins was perplexed not only by D’Souza’s argument, but that Newt Gingrich would agree with it if he plans on running for President.

I find this kind of amazing. As I understand it, basically, what Newt Gingrich is saying is that Barack Obama so identifies with anti-colonial third world movements that he regards the United States as the enemy to undermined and I’ve never heard anyone say that about a sitting President before….Not even George Bush, certainly by someone who was planning on running for himself.

 Collins put the claim that Barack Obama is an “anti-colonialist” in the context of his record as President:

I find it so interesting that so many of the national Republicans are referring to what Obama has done over the past two years as so outside our comprehension, as if he had told everyone to wear their underwear on the outside or something like that. I mean the guy has passed a couple of a bills! He’s done nothing that every traditional Democrat who’s come in for the last two three decades has not done, he’s just been a little more successful at it.

But is it working? Collins broke down some of the polls.

Certainly when you poll people about what they’d like to see, what they’re upset about, you don’t get this sense of hysteria that is coming out now in the Republican primaries. I saw a poll today that if you ask people, well, should we repeal the healthcare bill which is so unpopular  most of them would no, that sounds too dramatic a thing to do. And certainly most people I’m sure would not say they think President Obama is plotting against the United States.

Collins also pointed to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s recent comments that we “don’t know much” about Barack Obama’s childhood and background. She mentioned that this was troubling to her because Barack Obama wrote an entire book about his upbringing. Collins connected this claim to Gingrich’s assertions about the President’s supposed anti-colonial tendencies and the irony of painting the Obama as an outsider in this particular election

There is this sense that they’re going after again, again and again that Barack Obama is an outsider, that he came from the outside, which is ironic because now everybody is running as  outsider. But apparently if you’re an outsider and you actually get elected,  especially if you’re a Democrat, then you become the dangerous "other" that we don’t know anything about, so your motives in passing a healthcare bill might well be to undermine the country so that that the colonial underdogs in Africa will do better. I mean the whole thing when you take it all the way out is just so nuts.

Gail Collins will return next week with a new selection of oddities from the campaign trail.