It didn't take long for conservative commentators to start hurling childish insults at their television sets last night during President Obama's State of the Union address. As he mapped out his vision for America, he was called a "crapweasel president," a "shameless snake" and a "bad man" giving a "stupid shit" speech.
Viewers disagreed, of course, and gave Obama's address sky-high marks last night.
If you follow these regular vile eruptions you can't be surprised. Over the years during Obama's annual, thoughtful national address, his feral critics have excitedly denounced him in real time as an “arrogant,” “flippant” “jerk.” He was “fake,” “thin-skinned,” “cocky and snide” ; “patronizing,” “demagogic,” “unpresidential,” and really, really “arrogant.” And he often gave a “stupid,” “Castro-like,” "evil speech."
By all indications Obama's final year in office is going to feature a never-ending geyser from the far-right press, where every move and utterance from the president is met with overwrought name-calling and desperate cries of help. His critics have bronzed and memorialized the art of indignation. (And also berated the president's wife, endlessly.)
It must be exhausting.
It's only the second week of January and already, aside from the State of the Union outburst, we witnessed the weird and childish media attacks on the president after he teared up in public while remembering child victims of gun violence. ( “Check that podium for like a raw onion ... It's not really believable.” )
Just four weeks ago two Fox News talkers were suspended, one for calling the president of the United States a “pussy” on national television, the other for claiming, on the same day, that Obama just didn't “give a shit” about combating terrorism.
It's classic Obama Derangement Syndrome: the inability of adults to rationally deal with the actions of the Democratic president. Remember the collective 2014 meltdown when Obama appeared on comedian Zach Galifianakis' comedy show? (It was “dreadful” and “gross.” ) When he ordered “spicy mustard” on his hamburger? ( “What kind of man orders a cheeseburger without ketchup but Dijon mustard?” ) Or when feverish critics blamed Obama for golfing when an earthquake hit the East Coast of America?
And note we're not talking about anonymous online commenters, or a group chat of College Republicans. We're talking about people who are supposed to be leading lights within the conservative movement. But it turns out they're immune to intellectual pursuits when it comes to Obama.
The amazing part is very little of this batty behavior seems to disqualify the participants in the eyes of the elite Beltway media. There seems to be few baseless allegations or insults that critics can hurl at Obama (or Hillary Clinton) these days that's deemed out of bounds, which of course only fuels the spoiled-rotten behavior.
So on and on the insults come, under the guise of “debate.”
Obama haters are told that not only does he not love America and he tilts toward terrorist sympathies, but the dead-enders' bottom line has always been that Obama's a failure and America has suffered incalculable losses under his leadership.
His fevered critics made that same claim in 2012, only to watch Obama waltz to reelection.
And that's the catch: Virtually every claim they made about Obama turned out to be wrong, whether it was how Obamacare was going to bankrupt the economy (not to mention kill off old people), how he was driving gas prices through the roof, he couldn't create American jobs, he was going to take away your guns, he was letting Iran obtain nuclear weapons and letting Ebola sweep our shores, how he gave the Benghazi stand down order, and unleashed the I.R.S. on his enemies.
Under Obama, the stock market's up more than 9,000 points, the unemployment rate has nearly been cut in half, and USA Today reports that drivers in many states may soon see gas stations advertising $1 per-gallon fill-ups.
So where's the seething anger from?
Is the barely-controllable rage confirmation that the American electorate is changing, and not for the better from the Republican perspective? Is it quiet corroboration that, even according to some Republican operatives, a Donald Trump nomination this year could mean ruin for the GOP come November?
Meanwhile, does Obama's presidency rank among the most successful? I'll leave that debate to the academics. But it's obvious that Obama's successful two-term run has never matched the almost comical portrait painted by his adolescent, name-calling critics. (For context, Obama's current approval rating is not far off from Ronald Reagan's at this same point of his second term, according to Gallup.)
What's amazing to watch is that their parallel-universe view of Obama has only intensified over the years. You'd think the white-hot anger might subside over time, especially when it became clear Obama governed as a traditional, center-left Democrat, not as some sort of Marxist radical.
As New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote this week:
The Obama administration has done things people like me strongly disagree with. But America is in better economic shape than any other major nation on earth. Crime is down. Abortion rates are down. Fourteen million new jobs have been created in five years. Obama has championed a liberal agenda, but he hasn't made the country unrecognizable.
But Brooks' (sometimes) pragmatic brand of conservatism is no longer in favor among professionals in the fever swamp where logical observations about Obama (i.e. what's the big deal?) are rarely acknowledged.
Indeed, their unruly rage has only intensified, to the point where it seems like the permanent state of phony outrage is the entire point of the play production.