Last week at a town hall meeting in Louisiana, fourth-grader Tyren Scott asked President Barack Obama, “Why do people hate you?” Obama smiled.
There was no chink in his armor. It was a loaded question, yet Obama answered in stride. He told Tyren that he still had a lot of supporters and that people must stay strong in the face of adversity.
That was the answer he was supposed to give. But I can’t help but wonder what Obama really wanted to say to his critics if he could face them in a private setting, rather than field questions from a fourth grader. How would Obama respond if instead of Tyren, an adult was telling him why they hated him?
The following are actual comments from people on why they hate Obama, left on message boards. The responses are not.
CRITIC 1: “Mr. President, the people hate you because you’re trying to take everything away from them and give them only a little back, even though these people work their tails off to get by.”
OBAMA: “I understand why you might think I’m taking from the middle and lower class. I know there are plenty of reasons to be upset with me right now. I realize the Rasmussen Report shows 39 percent of voters strongly disapprove with my decisions, with just reason.
“No one likes hearing the words ‘federal deficit’ and ‘record high’ in the same sentence, but the deficit has reached $1.42 trillion in an effort to save our banks and auto companies from sinking. I do promise to target this rampant spending, but recovering from the recession is top priority right now.
“I also understand that it’s frustrating to hear all the misleading claims about the economy turning around when unemployment still hovers at 9.5 percent, with states like California sitting at 12.2 percent, but until the economy stabilizes, those numbers will remain high and so will spending. I am not trying to rob you. I’m trying to save your jobs.”
CRITIC 2: “Barack Hussein Obama, the people hate you because of the socialist agenda you’re pushing.”
OBAMA: “I feel like socialist is the new commie. It’s just a way to attack me when you don’t agree with what I’m doing. It’s like when the media calls me Barack Hussein Obama when they’re being critical of me. It’s an attempt to associate me with Saddam without looking guilty. Certainly it’s my middle name, but I know what they’re really trying to do.
“As for my socialist agenda, the government isn’t currently making decisions for Goldman Sachs or General Motors or mandating everyone buy our healthcare. I think you’ve been misinformed.”
CRITIC 3: “All of middle-class America hates you because you’re a self-absorbed, self-centered, narcissistic, liberal, socialist, Marxist who cares only about your ideological vision of a socialist Marxist state, not America.”
CRITIC 4: “We hate you because you lied about our troops.”
OBAMA: “That’s fair. I realize how difficult it is wondering every night about when you’re going to see your loved ones again, but I also worry about our troops overseas. That’s why I haven’t yet approved Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for 40,000 more troops.
“I can’t fulfill that request until the Afghanistan election sorts itself out. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, agrees that until a formal government is in place, our troops need to stay home.
I know this isn’t comforting for the 68,000 troops already there, but to bring them back early while the Afghanistan people still need help and while the Taliban still remains a threat to our country, would jeopardize everyone’s safety.”
CRITIC 5: “Mr. President, the public hates you because you lied about Guantanamo Bay.”
OBAMA: “I understand your sentiments. I was wrong in promising to shut down Guantanamo Bay by next January. I admit that. I realize now that the deadline is too soon. My defense secretary, Robert Gates, and I prematurely agreed on a date to comfort the nation, without considering the difficulties we would face from our own senators.
“Everyone agrees that the detainees need to be moved, but no one wants to take them in. Republican Kansas senators Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts opposed bringing them in to their state prisons, yet Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), whose state actually released prisoners early in a cost saving effort, is willing to bring in detainees. How is that possible?
It’s just like I said at a recent fundraiser in San Francisco, it’s time to grab a mop and help clean up the mess. We don’t want somebody sitting back saying you’re not holding the mop right. Help us out. It’s not a one-man show.”
Robert Fragoza is a junior majoring in chemical engineering. His column, “Reality Check,” runs Fridays.