FLASHBACK: Obama Feels ‘Frustration’ When Talking To Foreigners
A look through the pages of former President Barack Obama’s 2006 autobiography shows he seemed to suffer from the same “racial anxiety” that many pundits and journalists have diagnosed President Donald Trump’s supporters with.
In “The Audacity of Hope,” then-Sen. Obama of Illinois wrote about his personal feelings towards immigration and early changes in the country’s demographic landscape:
“When I see Mexican flags waved at pro-immigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment,” he wrote.
While such words wouldn’t raise an eyebrows over a decade ago, it’s hard to imagine any politician today — let alone a Democratic presidential hopeful — get away with such honesty without a flurry of media scrutiny.
Yet Obama goes even further in his next sentence, in what could surely be interpreted by columnists and commentators as nothing but ugly xenophobia were he thinking of running in 2020.
“When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration,” he wrote.
Aside from the absurdity of a mechanic with a full-time translator on staff, Obama is clearly trying to empathize with Americans who feel concerned about the country growing more and more unfamiliar to them. While such empathy might seem welcoming given our polarized politics, such an anecdote would certainly not mesh with the Democratic Party’s leftward lurch on immigration.
2006 Obama’s solution to his frustration with communicating with foreigners is to “insist to those already here that with citizenship comes obligations — to a common language,” that is, English.
While a politician telling Hispanic immigrants to speak English might spark a “Saturday Night Live” skit nowadays, Obama’s 12-year-old autobiography shows that both parties were once not so far apart on immigration policy.
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