The right wing recklessly charges its opponents of harboring socialist / communist sympathies whenever there is a disagreement on taxes, spending or war. Democrats in congress as also Democratic presidents and presidential candidates since FDR have been targets of such scurrilous attacks. President Obama is no exception. But in his case, the additional suspicion of un-Americanness is repeatedly voiced. It may be meant as a dog whistle aimed at the conservative base but most of us understand that "un-American" here is but a thinly veiled reminder of Obama's skin color. Here is John Sununu, the mostly forgotten White House chief of the first President Bush taking Obama to task for not understanding American capitalism and values. In doing so, he brought up Obama's childhood in Hawaii, smoking pot as a young man and beginning his career in Chicago as sure indicators of alien roots. (Really? Hawaii, Chicago and pot smoking?) He forgot to mention Columbia, Harvard and a pair of white midwestern grandparents who played a major stabilizing role in Obama's upbringing. How soon we forget the brickbats thrown at us when we are hurling them at someone else. Sununu himself was born in a foreign country (Cuba, for heaven's sake!) to foreign born parents (both) and was suspected of having anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian sympathies by some American supporters of Israel.
Then there is the ever despicable Michele Bachmann whose McCarthyist tendencies have been on shameless display for a long time. She sees enemies of America under every table, behind every bush and among her ideological opponents, especially if there is a whiff of "foreignness" about them, be it their skin color or non-Christian religious background. In her latest outburst she accused Huma Abedin, a long time aide of Hillary Clinton of being a possible Muslim Brotherhood plant in the Obama administration. She was appropriately upbraided by Senator John McCain for her ignorant mean hearted campaign. I suspect Bachmann's disgraceful slander against Abedin is a back handed way of suggesting that since Obama is a secret Muslim, he has appointed a Muslim mole in his administration to undermine America's security. Never mind that Abedin became Hillary Clinton's trusted aide as a very young woman, before she was anywhere near Obama. Interestingly, Bachmann's own foreign connections recently came to light. She never considered disclosing the fact while she shrilly paraded as the All American patriot. But the omission is understandable; Switzerland after all, is not Pakistan.