Just prior to the recent vice presidential debate, Chris Mathews was interviewing members of the Danville, Ky., crowd. One normal-appearing middle-aged woman insisted that President Obama is a communist, which she refused to define.
In the 1960s, the left wing opposed the war in Vietnam. So did I, for a number of reasons that turned out to be accurate. But when they called Nixon, Johnson, Humphrey and others "fascists," the war protesters lost me as a supporter.
I am now a retired corporate business executive, a Republican elected official and past chair of my county's Republican Party. I am also a proven fiscal conservative. During the years I have been a county commissioner, tax increase have been less than 1% annually, one of the lowest rates in my home state of Georgia.
But, as opposed to many of the people sending me emails, I do not think liberals and moderates are communists and socialists. At first, I just brushed these email folks off. But the emails seem to be getting shriller. I even had the current chair of the county party contact me stating: "The Democrats doomed our freedom and the current-day Democrats (which are really Socialists/Communists) have ensured it."
I have received countless similar emails from others regarding President Obama, calling him a communist and left-wing extremist and much worse. Some are just vulgar, but others are simply sent by misguided souls who do not know any better.
Let's take a look at Obama's "radical extremist" record regarding a few left-of-center causes:
Bush Tax Cuts: Obama signed the bill extending them, angering liberals.
Marijuana Legal Reform: Obama is much tougher regarding prosecutions than was Bush.
Illegal Immigration: The Obama administration has forcibly returned more illegal immigrants than any other president.
Guantanamo/Detainees: It remains open and Obama has no plans to close it.
Iraq/Afghanistan: There was no immediate and total withdrawal in Iraq, as demanded by the left. We withdrew according to the original time frame set by Bush. We are also still in Afghanistan. The drone war has been significantly expanded, as has our use of mercenary "contractors." Oh, and that bin Laden guy is being entertained by Lucifer as we speak.
Stimulus Package: Liberals, such as economist Paul Krugman, have always stated that it was half the size it should have been, extending the recession. Also, about a third of it was tax cuts, the opposite of what liberals wanted.
Health Reform: Liberals wanted Universal Medicare and have for 80 years. What they got from Obama was the Dole/Heritage Foundation 1990s Republican health insurance reform proposal, Romneycare. It expands the role of private for-profit insurance companies, a conservative idea that is vigorously opposed by the left.
Deficit Reduction: The left wanted the president to propose a major new stimulus package to grow the economy though increasing demand, rather than concentrate on reducing the deficit, as conservatives desired. Instead, Obama tried to work out the "big deal" with Rep. Boehner to eliminate the deficit primarily through domestic budgetary cuts. Obama was willing to significantly cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. This is anathema to New Deal and Great Society supporters.
Wall Street: He has made no attempt to try to reinstate Glass-Steagle, the Depression-era law that was the basis for successful bank regulation for many decades. That law was abolished by a Republican Congress and signed by Clinton in the name of deregulation in the 1990s. While criticizing banks, he has done nothing to rein in excessive compensation packages, a rallying point for the left. Senator Bernie Sanders and other liberals are enraged by Obama's failure to act.
Military expenditures: Obama has never suggested that we cut back to pre-9/11 levels. His proposed spending modifications are minor, preserving the Bush-era doubling of our defense budget.
Housing Crisis: The left wants a direct government-sponsored bailout for under-water homeowners, buying down the principle on their homes. Obama opposes this action.
Appointments: Rather than appoint darlings of the left (think Elizabeth Warren) to his cabinet and key positions, Obama has chosen to appoint moderates in the Clinton mold, such as Timothy Geithner, a former Republican. He even appointed a conservative Republican as Secretary of Defense.
All of the above is not to say that Obama is a right-wing conservative. He clearly is not. But he is also not a left-wing radical communist bent on destroying our nation, as many emails to me have stated.
McCarthyism is not dead; it is not even dormant.
Jack Bernard, a Jasper County commissioner and former chairman of the Jasper County Republican Party, is a retired executive of for-profit health care services, now a private consultant for small business.