The Right and Left are Ruining My Ability to Criticize Obama

So President Obama took a ‘selfie’ with British prime minister David Cameron and Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt during Nelson Mandela’s funeral. I’m not one for pomp and ceremony, but I don’t think it was particularly appropriate given the circumstances (just take a look at Michele Obama’s face and you’ll see I’m not alone here).

‘Selfies’ at a funeral are the sort of thing you’d expect from Paris Hilton (during her Grandmother’s funeral, she apparently spent most of the time shooting a video of herself), not the President of the United States – or the prime minister of Britain and Denmark for that matter.

During any other era, I would have written a scathing and snarky takedown of Obama’s behavior. But during this era, I can’t.


Because we’re living in an age where Obama shaking the hand of Raul Castro during a funeral with every other global leader on the planet is described as ‘shaming the nation‘. Because we’re living in an age where trying to provide basic healthcare to every American is described as Communism and where having a Kenyan father means you are a Muslim terrorist.

We’re also living in an age where those on the left compare using drone strikes against terrorists abroad to the Boston marathon bombing. Where Obama’s efforts to work with Republicans in Congress is tantamount to treason, and because the left doesn’t get everything they want from him, he must be a sell out and ‘worse than Bush’.

In short, discourse in America has become so painfully childish that it is close to impossible to gain meaningful perspective on, well, pretty much anything. The reality of Obama’s ‘selfie’ is that it wasn’t appropriate. The reality is that he also gave an inspiring and touching tribute at the funeral. The reality is that Obama has done some bad things while in office. And the reality is that he has done some good things while in office. But America can no longer keep contradictory ideas in its head at the same time, so Obama is either ‘worse than Bush’, the anti Christ, or the greatest leader in the whole of human history.

The Obama ‘selfie’ is predictably being used by his detractors to feed their own armies of trolls who thrive off hating something, or someone. Here was Fox News’s headline today:

And who were those international people? According to Fox, American blogger Erick Erickson of, and Iain Martin of the conservative British newspaper, the Telegraph.

How exotic.

One day, I hope to live in an era where a black President with ‘foreign’ sounding name can be lampooned without adding fuel to cauldron of racism and xenophobia, where defending him doesn’t make you an ‘Obamabot’, and where taking a selfie at a funeral isn’t described as an ‘international incident’.

Sadly, we’re not there yet and it’s severely impacting my ability to justifiably criticize Obama. Because sometimes he really does need it.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.