After President Obama made the analogy that Republican politicians should have to ride "in the back seat" after driving "this car," the United States, "into the ditch," Fox News figures have tried to claim that Obama made an "offensive" and "appalling" reference to racial segregation and "the back of the bus." They have yet to explain why Obama would want to compare himself to segregationists and his political opponents to civil rights hero Rosa Parks.
Obama car analogy: GOP should ride in "the back seat" after driving the car "into the ditch"
In several campaign speeches, Obama used "the analogy of a car being driven into the ditch" to argue that voters should not put Republicans in control of Congress. For instance, on October 23, he said that Democrats have been "pushing" the car to "level ground" while Republicans "have been standing on the sidelines." Obama added:
Finally we got this car up on level ground. And, yes, it's a little beat up. It needs to go to the body shop. It's got some dents; it needs a tune-up. But it's pointing in the right direction. And now we've got the Republicans tapping us on the shoulder, saying, we want the keys back.
You can't have the keys back. You don't know how to drive. You can ride with us if you want, but you got to sit in the backseat. We're going to put middle-class America in the front seat. We're looking out for them.
Obama has been using this car analogy for months.
Following Beck, Fox pushes notion that Obama was making racial reference to "the back of the bus"
Beck: "Are we looking to settle old scores, here? Is that what's happening, Mr. President?" During the October 26 edition of his radio show, Glenn Beck aired audio from Obama's speech and asked, "So is this a back of the bus kind of analogy?" Beck later invoked the racial segregation of the 1950s and asked, "What is the difference?" He also stated, "Are we looking to settle old scores, here? Is that what's happening, Mr. President? Because I'm just wondering. It sounds like there is a time to settle old scores, which sounds to me like you're inciting people":
BECK: So is this the back of the bus kind of analogy? Is that where -- is that where the enemies go now, in the back? Because I'm just wondering.
STU: A little bit of a -- he's saying the back seat. He's not saying the back of the bus. I mean, he's talking about--
BECK: Oh, okay. But we can't sit in the front with him?
STU: No. He's saying that he's going to drive the car and you can sit in the back if you want.
BECK: Well, there's a passenger seat. Why can't we sit in the--
STU: That's because that's where George Soros is sitting, that's why.
BECK: I'm just wondering why we're sitting in the back.
STU: We get -- what we get is in the old-school station wagon, the seat that faces backwards, in like the trunk. That's where we get to sit. But we're in the car and he wants to make sure you know we're in the car
BECK: Well but I mean, in the 50's people were still in the bus, they were just in the back of the bus. What is the difference? You can't sit in the front seat. Why can't I sit in the front seat? Why can't I sit in the front seat, Mr. President? Why am I sitting in the back seat? Why are you saying you have to punish your enemies? Are we looking to settle old scores, here? Is that what's happening, Mr. President? Because I'm just wondering. It sounds like there is a time to settle old scores, which sounds to me like you're inciting people.
I'd be very careful, Mr. President, of inciting people because that's what it sounds to me -- you want to punish the enemies. You're reaching into the Hispanic community and saying these people are enemies and they must be punished. How? How exactly? What does that mean exactly? And why are Republicans, or why are people that disagree with you suddenly second-class citizens that cannot sit in the front seat. I understand your little analogy -- that you can't drive but why can't you sit in the front seat? Why do you have to sit in the back seat, Mr. President?
Beck previously claimed Obama's agenda was driven by "reparations" and a desire to "settle old racial scores."
Hannity claims Obama was making a reference to "the back of the bus." After airing a portion of Obama's remarks on the October 26 edition of his Fox News show (accessed via Nexis), Sean Hannity characterized Obama's statement as "talk about sit in the back of the bus." Hannity further stated, "I wonder if I, as a talk show host and a conservative commentator made such a reference." Fox News contributor Dana Perino and Fox Business host Stuart Varney said that Hannity would "be fired." Later, while interviewing Michael Steele, Hannity said, "President Barack Obama actually said Republicans can go to the back of the bus. I'm not sure if you heard the comment."
Varney: "I know the association that that was bringing to the public mind." Appearing on the October 26 edition of Hannity, Varney said that Obama's remarks were "offensive," adding, "when I looked at that, being foreign born, I know the association that that was bringing to the public mind ... It's unpresidential."
Johnson: Obama went "back 55 years and summoned the horrible image" of racial segregation. During the October 27 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. said Obama's comments about the car were "a peculiar and strange and haunting and really backward reference that we're seeing by the president and what we're really seeing is a reference to the notion of being in the back of the bus, and that's a matter of sad American history, embarrassing American history." Johnson added:
JOHNSON: When we engage in this charged, strange, malignant kind of language, we are not moving forward. We are moving backwards in this country and it's a regrettable statement. The American bus, the American car is a bus and a car for all Americans, regardless of race and regardless of party. And so when we're allegedly in this post-partisan, post-racial era where we summon our better angels, to summon our worst demons and to go back 55 years and summon the horrible image of a courageous Rosa Parks fighting the evil of segregation, to inject that again into our politics is a mistake, it's a surprising thing and I'm sure the president wouldn't do it again. It's sad though.
During the segment, Fox aired on-screen text stating, "Pres Obama brings up imagery of segregation":
Crowley claimed Obama's remarks had "racial overtones." On the October 27 edition of Fox News' America Live, host Megyn Kelly said there is "brand new backlash" about Obama's "controversial comments." Fox News contributor Monica Crowley said Obama's analogy was "appalling" and that if it had been a Republican president, "there might even be a movement to impeach at this point, but this man gets away with it." Crowley added:
CROWLEY: I think after the civil rights movement of the 1950s, riding in the back certainly does have some civil rights and racial overtones to it and you can't tell me that the president of the United States was not aware of that when he said it.