2:11pm January 27, 2012

The 10 Worst Moments of Disrespect Towards President Obama


It starts from the Superiority Syndrome: People acting as if they’re more important than a U.S. President — when they clearly are not.  To fingers in the face.  To people questioning his already established and proven citizenship.

The incidents of disrespect towards President Obama continue.

When people criticize Administration policy, that’s just politics.  But several incidents directed at this President appear to find new lows.  Of course, people can disagree with the President. But, why can’t people respect the Office of the Presidency?

The very public nature of disrespect towards President Obama is noteworthy.  Did Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) have to conduct business with the President in front of reporters?  Wasn’t there a better time and place? Would a visiting leader from a foreign country be greeted with a finger in his face by a Governor? If not, why would it happen to the leader of our own country? Could a hockey goalie have executed a quiet no-show for a White House invitation honoring his team? See Facebook for the answer on that one.

It wasn’t the end of the world when Speaker John Boehner refused the President’s date to speak to a joint session on jobs in September 2011.  And yes, the White House picked that date to steal attention from a GOP debate.  But like so many moments of disrespect towards the 44th President: No one can find another example in American history where a U.S. President requested a date to address Congress and was refused. Can anyone find another incident like the Brewer one?  That the list below can even be compiled is telling.

1. The birther fiasco (2009-2011). No evidence. No proof. No documentation.  But the story traveled on for years. Yes, Hawaii is part of the United States of America.

2. “You lie” (Sept. 2009). That any individual — no less a member of Congress watching a U.S. President during a joint session on live national television — is so lacking in self control that this moment was made possible is incredible — even in an age of incivility. Remember this happened only nine months into Obama’s presidency and is another “we can’t remember that ever happening ever before” moment. Close your eyes and pretend Rep. Maxine Waters was Wilson doing this to President Bush and image the reaction.

3. Signs of the Tea Party (July 2010) and Naked Racism (April 2011).  Anyone remember California GOP official Marilyn Davenport’s racist e-mail? Did she ever resign for that?  I remember all the criticism of the NAACP – particularly from Black Republicans — for their “Tea Party resolution” of 2010.  Where was that indignation regarding what can be viewed in this video? Click here.

4. Donald “unchecked ego” Trump inflames birther fiasco, media assists (April 2011). The mouth of Donald Trump is a powerful thing when joined with a 24-hour cable news cycle desperate for viewers.  That news organizations invited Trump on the air unchallenged with zero proof of what he was saying speaks volumes on the state of journalism.  That Trump was completely comfortable demanding that a U.S. President “show him his papers” displays a superiority complex that exists among those who can’t accept someone they view as “lesser” in a position of power over them.

4. Deadbeat dad and probable one-termer thinks his presence before the President actually matters and needs to tell everyone (Sept 2011).  The disrespect isn’t that probable one term Congressman Joe Walsh (R-IL) wouldn’t attend the President’s Sept. 8 speech. The disrespect is that Rep. Walsh actually believed that everyone knowing he wasn’t attending was important.  That he needed to announce he would not attend on national television, as if anyone cared, was yet another delusional superiority episode.  That proudly showing public disrespect towards the President is a winning strategy in some political circles reveals a lot.

5. Newt Gingrich’s “Kenyan anti-colonial behavior” comment (Sept 2010). Even Washington Post columnist and conservative thinker George Will slammed this attempt to define the President as “foreign.” Never mind the facts: President Obama wasn’t reared by his father in Kenya with whom he spent only a month of his 50 years on this earth. The strategy to define the President as a “foreign” or “alien” being was started by Sarah Palin in 2008.

6. One of the underlying premises of disrespect towards the President is that he can be ordered around and dictated to like he’s Tipi the laundry boy.  The presumption that a U.S. President can be ordered around is a new phenomenon that appears to have gotten underway around January 2009.  From big mouth Congressmen to millionaires with nothing to do, you name it — they all inherently believe they can order President Obama around.  At least Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an actual leader of something. Regardless, read this and ask yourself if you think this would have happened to Presidents Bush, Reagan or Clinton.

7. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer puts her finger in the President’s face (January 2012). The photo speaks for itself.  Of course there are strong political disagreements between President Obama and Gov. Brewer.  But is it just possible there was a better time and place for this conversation?  Brewer said she felt “a little threatened” by President Obama. Please.

8. GOP House, prompted by Tea Party — refuses to raise debt ceiling (Aug 2011). Sounds like this was just hardball politics right? Let’s review the facts: The debt ceiling had been raised 69 times since 1962 without incident.  Seven times during Bush II and 18 times during Reagan.  Suddenly, with President Obama, a shiny new precedent is set with regard to raising the debt ceiling.  Another never before seen incident is born.

9. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Publicly Announces His Top Political Priority (Dec 2010). McConnell wants the President out of office?  No news there, but, wait, there’s more to it. “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term,” Sen. McConnell told the Heritage Foundation.  Of course the Senate Republican Leader doesn’t want the President to be re-elected.  But what’s with the public announcement? In July 2010 McConnell acknowledged his single most important political goal: President Obama being a one-term President. Again: In public and on national television.

10. Speaker Boehner refuses speech date request (September 2011). No it is not the end of the world.  Of course, the White House intentionally wanted to step on a GOP debate that same night. But, this is yet another first in American history. Once again, no one can find another instance where a President of the United States requested a date to address Congress and was refused.

About the Author

Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke created the blog Crewof42 in 2009. The blog covers African American members of the U.S. Congress. She is also the Managing Editor of Politic365.com where she writes news and opinion on congressional politics. Ms. Burke appears regularly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin and on WHUR, WURD, WVON and the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Ms, Burke has enjoyed employment at USA Today and ABC News and the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. E-mail anytime: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @Crewof42



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  1. Josephine Gervais

    Did you know that while Obama has been in office the democrat lead senate that supports him has had 428+ filibusters– a filibuster is what is done by the republicans to make the usual 51 win of votes be changed to a 61 votes needed to win– just enough to keep the democrats from passing anything. So you see what a record breaking amount of filibusters that is know that Jimmy Carter had 2 filibusters in his senate. It’s flat out racism.

  2. Edwin P Whetstone

    Respect is earned not given, obama has done nothing to earn my respect but much to earn my contempt. He has earned his place as the most pathetic excuse of a President ever. I was not happy with either Bush but at least under them I could afford healthcare and to feed my family.

    • Edith Garberding

      So perfectly said Edwin Whetstone!

      • Kathleen

        This is not difficult to understand, if you’d ever been in the military you’d have a clue. You salute the uniform not the officer. Same thing with the president, you respect the office (to which he was elected by a majority of Americas — twice) not the man. How can we expect our children to respect their parents when parents demonstrate the worst incivility and disrespect to the president?

    • Sandy Sabovic

      @Edwin P Whetstone: The article is talking respect owed to the office, not the man. Your family is starving? That’s your fault, not anyone else’s. Unemployment went down over 3 points, so if you can’t find a job, you’re not look hard enough. Roll your sleeves up, put down your pride and get dirty…then you can ‘feed’ your family.

  3. Carol Bl;air

    Lets face it, much of the disrespect is about racism or elitism, pure and simple. Heaven forbid the poor or disenfranchised should have the same opportunities as those able to afford them….most of those complaining can still afford to do both, and not every one in this country can. eventually we would end up paying for these services in other not so obvious ways.

    As to “earned not given”, considering the way the plans and actions others recently in, and advising, the presidency have backfired on the american government and people…consider the euphemism “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

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  5. Jan Johnson

    I had great hopes for this president. I have been disappointed. I do think it unseemly that the office of the Presidency has garnered so much disrespect. Mr. Obama intransigence when working with congress befuddles me. I have one question about the “birther” situation. How is it that Barack Obama registered in college as a foreign student? That has bothered. He is actually a US citizen and sought to register as a foreign student? Why?

    • Cynd

      You don’t really believe that rumor Donald Trump came up with. People only believe what they want to believe. That rumor as been refuted several times.

    • Sandy Sabovic

      Come on Jan, really? Don’t be so naive dear. Even foreign students would much rather not enroll as one since the tuition for foreign students is almost tripled from our already way-too-costly education in America.

  6. Michael Craig

    In fairness could you please post the top 10 lies of Obama? It seemed OK to call out Bush when he lied and said “read my lips-no new taxes” but if you call out Obama then you get trumped by the race card. Honestly, Obama the “most transparent” and “great uniter” has been anything but! Please recall Beergate, inserting himself into the Treyvon Martin case and generally acting as if its still 1960 where blacks are still sitting at the back of the bus. Obama acts like he is still a community organizer with the rallying cry of-”it’s the man keeping you down” Well guess what? Obama is the man and is responsible for higher unemployment for blacks, women, gays, etc but you would never know it the way he manipulates the media. Obama said with his plan the average family would save over $2,500 a year. As a matter of fact- many American families are paying that much MORE a year! “If you like your Doctor and your current plan you can keep them”. Another Obama lie because you can’t keep what has been taken away from you! “I promise to keep American’s safe”. Oh is that why you are allowing our military to go where they will be exposed to Ebola? Is that why you are bringing in illegal immigrant “kids” by the bus load from Nicaragua where they had a known respitory illness outbreak and now 15 states in the US are infected and hundreds of US children are now in the hospital? Terrorists storm and kill American citizens in Benghazi, Terrorists behead American journalist’s and not only have you done NOTHING but you still can’t bring yourself to call them Muslim Terrorists. Oh yeah, I forgot-you invited the Muslim Brotherhood to the White House! Anyone who still thinks we have a great President should ask themselves if he is the supposed recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize-why is there no peace in America? Stop acting luke a community agitator stuck in the 60′s and start acting like a President now. BTW-next time American’s are killed by Terrorists-can you PLEASE cancel your fundraiser and/or golf game???!!!

    • Dennis B

      Michael, the only people who use the terms “Great Uniter” and “Most Transparent” are critics like you, not the President himself nor anyone in his administration. You are right. We have come a long way since the 1960′s and sitting at the back of the bus but that doesn’t mean there is not a lot more work to be done in regards to race relations in this country. If you don’t see that, then it’s you who has his head deliberately in the sand. About the only factual thing you stated in your rant was the misleading statement “‘If you like your Doctor and your current plan you can keep them’”. However, perhaps you should look more to the insurance companies for dropping the ball on that one and not clearly spelling out how changes in plans may change potential doctors in a network. I know little of this will do much to change your mind but perhaps you could at least pause in mudslinging and deal in facts for a change.

    • There`s no peace in America because most of you “AMERICANS”dont want it.PERIOD:

  7. Michael Craig

    PS-Obama cannot take Executive Action and give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Even Ronald Reagan did not overstep his powers to give amnesty when he did for millions. He properly went to Congress. Obama seems to think the rules our government don’t apply to him and if you disagree then you must be racist. No we just actually believe in our constitution and the separation of powers between branches to protect Americans from a despotic leader that makes his own rules and forces them on Americans. We did not like it with King George and don’t like it from self elected King Obama.
    Time to impeach him for all his illegal actions against Americans. Can you say Benghazi cover up? Fast & Furious? It’s not a tax but it is a tax healthcare bill?

  8. Scott

    I love all the comments about racism and respect regarding the current POTUS. The problem is, he is the biggest racist with a blatant disrespect for America. So how as Americans can we even begin to fathom giving the office any respect whatsoever. He needs to step down and apologize to all Americans for even thinking he was capable of running this country.


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