Angela Rye, Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus, argued that President Obama has struggled during his first term due to racially-motivated opposition from conservatives who dislike having a black president.
"This is probably the toughest presidential term in my lifetime," Rye said during CSPAN's Q&A yesterday. "I think that a lot of what the president has experienced is because he's black. You know, whether it's questioning his intellect or whether or not he's Ivy League. It's always either he's not educated enough or he's too educated; or he's too black or he's not black enough; he's too Christian or not Christian enough. There are all these things where he has to walk this very fine line to even be successful."
She said that "a lot" of conservative opposition is racially-charged, citing the use of the word "cool" in an attack ad launched by Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS superPAC.
"There's an ad, talking about [how] the president is too cool, [asking] is he too cool? And there's this music that reminds me of, you know, some of the blaxploitation films from the 70s playing in the background, him with his sunglasses," Rye said. "And to me it was just very racially-charged. They weren't asking if Bush was too cool, but, yet, people say that that's the number one person they'd love to have a beer with. So, if that's not cool I dont know what is.
She added that "even 'cool,' the term 'cool,' could in some ways be deemed racial [in this instance]."
Rye said "I don't know" when asked if black enthusiasm for Obama might be lower than in 2008, but added that the Democrats have to explain how voter ID laws are racist to help motivate black voters.
"I think that there is a lot of work that needs to be done to educate people on the issues with voting rights this time," she told CSPAN. "A lot of our members feel that the voting rights bills that have been passed on voter ID . . . is going to create a barrier whether there's an enthusiasm gap or not. You have a situation where it's a modern-day poll tax."
MSNBC's Ed Schultz argued last year that "break" is a Southern racist term that should also never be applied to President Obama.