CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Recall John McCain's question, "Who is the real Barack Obama?" McCain's manufactured mystery deepened with Sarah Palin's breathless, "... (Obama) is not a man who sees America as you and I see America." Their words, spoken during the 2008 campaign, were nothing more than bait designed to lure the gullible to the conclusion that the "other" candidate was not one of us.
McCain and Palin had plenty of help in their efforts at "othering" their opponent. Piling on were honesty-challenged media talkers along with congressional dregs such as Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), Steve King (R-Iowa) and former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
Continuing to the present, conservatives work themselves into sheening sweats with their convoluted efforts to convince us that Obama is not like you and me. They have said that Obama is a Muslim, Marxist, communist, socialist, Hitler loving, America hating, flag disrespecting, terrorist fist-bumping, gun grabbing, anti-colonial hater of white people who was born and raised in both Kenya and Indonesia where, while attending a madrassa (in case he later would become president) he was taught to make speeches in which he constantly apologizes for America.
Is anything left? Yep. Obama also is a black radical, an Afro-Leninist, a wealth re-distributor who has faked his college transcripts and has never had a real job because university professor, U.S. Senator and community organizer don't count. Also, the president wants the U.S. to be like France which is too gay and, well, too French.
Disinterested listeners ask whether the Olympics have added an event called hyperbolic crazy talk. Former ten-year member of the House and Colorado candidate for governor, Tom Tancredo termed Obama a greater threat to America than al-Qaeda. Newt Gingrich described the president as "so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior" can we understand his secret desire to bring down America. He is a Facist and a Nazi who, like Hitler, rules by dictate, according to Rush Limbaugh.
We have choices. We may stick our heads into this stagnant, stinking pool of "othering," uncritically lap it up and then ask for more. Or we may step back and ask which of our candidates for president really is most unlike us.
Do you have a net worth of $250 million? Mitt Romney does. Have you ever cavalierly offered to make a $10,000 bet? Mitt did. Does your wife drive a "couple of Cadillacs"? Was your income in the past year $20 million? Have you stood before unemployed people and said that you also are unemployed? Do you pay about 14 percent federal income tax? In each case, it's Mitt.
Have you, in a single year, earned nearly $400,000 in speaking fees, which you then referred to as an amount that "wasn't much money"? Do you have a Swiss bank account worth $3 million? Do you have unknown amounts of cash and investments stashed off-shore in the Cayman Islands and in the Bahamas? Mitt does.
Don't we all have a $12 million home, a $10 million vacation getaway shack and a dressage horse, or some other hobby, on which we take a $77,000 business tax deduction? Don't we all have IRA's worth more than $20 million? Mr. Romney does.
There is a candidate who is not like you and me. He is Mitt Romney, the fellow who says he wants to end Medicare and who wishes to change the law so that your insurance company once again will be able to cancel your policy if you get sick. He is the candidate who, with a chuckle, said that he enjoys firing people.
Wyatt is a Gazette contributing columnist and a Marshall University professor.