The Atlantic

Trump Is Struggling to Run Against a White Guy

The president is having a difficult time deploying his traditional culture-war playbook against Biden.
Source: Getty / Arsh Raziuddin / The Atlantic

Eight months into Barack Obama’s first term as president, the right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh, who was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Donald Trump earlier this year, warned that Obama’s election had ushered in a dangerous inversion of power.

“Obama's America—white kids getting beat up on school buses now,” Limbaugh declared in September 2009, in response to a viral video of a fight between a black teenager and a white teenager on a bus. “In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering.”

Limbaugh was offering a template for the next decade of culture-war arguments on the political right. For eight years, the Republican Party’s chief villain was the first black president, whose center-left liberalism whose health-care bill and a “race war” waged by power-mad black Americans.” armed with a “”—was an easy target for anxieties about a different inversion of power, that of America’s traditional gender hierarchy. Clinton’s defeat was not sufficient to remove her as a target; to this day, Fox News’s most successful hosts return to the Clinton oasis like wanderers dying of thirst.

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