A new CNN documentary about President Obama speculates that Republican opposition to the first black president’s big-government program was rooted in racial animus.
True to Mr. Obama’s legacy, “The Legacy of Barack Obama” finds plenty of time to bash Republicans.
“Did race play a role in the brick wall of Republican resistance to Barack Obama?” CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria asks at the outset of the documentary, which aired on Wednesday.
The two-hour prime-time exposé, first reported by NewsBusters, features a who’s who of liberal pundits — many of them former Obama White House officials — who wholeheartedly agree that racism was a driving force behind Republican resistance to the president’s efforts to grow the size of government and centralize power in Washington, D.C.
After delving into Mr. Obama’s upbringing, the documentary cuts to a joyous scene at the president’s 2008 acceptance speech.
“It seemed like a fairy-tale beginning but at precisely the moment the first couple began swaying on the dance floor, the central crisis of the Obama presidency was already taking shape,” Mr. Zakaria narrates.
“Within half a mile of where Obama and Michelle are dancing and celebrating their great victory, his Republican opponents are wining and dining and plotting his downfall,” says The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, adding that “15 of the most powerful Republicans in Washington made a pact that night” to undermine Mr. Obama at every turn.
“It’s indisputable that there was a ferocity to the opposition and a lack of respect to him that was a function of race,” says David Axelrod, a CNN political commentator and former chief strategist to the president.
And CNN political commentator Van Jones, a former top environmental official in the Obama administration, says he can’t think of a single thing congressional Republicans and Mr. Obama agreed on over eight years. But he can think of one thing — and only one thing — that explains the discord.
“You have to have an extraordinary explanation for this level of obstruction,” Mr. Jones says, evidently not referring to philosophical disagreement between liberalism and conservatism about the size and scope of government.
Although the documentary hints at racism around every corner of the bicameral legislature, it does not actually accuse any lawmakers of being racists.
“David Axelrod says, at least one powerful Republican was personally disrespectful to Obama,” Mr. Zakaria feebly alleges at one point.
Bringing the evening to a race-baiting crescendo, Mr. Zakaria recalls an incident in which Mr. Obama said a police officer “acted stupidly” by arresting a black Harvard professor who tried to force his way into his home after finding the door jammed.
The CNN anchor notes that the timing of the controversy coincided with fierce Republican opposition to Obamacare, which passed without a single GOP vote.
Suddenly, Mr. Zakaria remarks, “Rage over ObamaCare was turning to race.”