A Philosopher's Blog

Threats Against Obama

Posted in Politics, Race by Michael LaBossiere on September 30, 2009
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While reading about the recent controversy over the Obama assassination Facebook poll, I also learned that Obama received more threats as a candidate than anyone else. Investigating a bit more, I ran across claims that Obama has received up to four times the threats received by President Bush. Given the strong emotions Obama has inspired and the virulence of some of the criticisms against him, this seems to be plausible claim. But, as always, I encourage confirmation of the facts.

Some folks are, not surprisingly, chalking up the increase in threats to racism. This explanation does have considerable plausibility. After all, racism is still a factor in America and it makes sense that racists and people with racial issues would tend to be against Obama and more inclined to make threats. While there were plenty of people who were very angry at Bush, many of the folks who were angry at him were liberals. Since these liberals tended to be anti-war and anti-gun folks, they would generally not be the sort of people to make violent threats. Naturally, there are some exceptions-some lefties can be rather violent. Racists, in contrast, tend to be a bit more inclined to advocating violence.

Obviously, not all of the threats are based on racism. The previous Presidents, who were all white, received a regular stream of threats and there were actual assassination attempts against some of them. It seems quite reasonable to assume that Obama also is receiving the “classic” threats (such as those from crazy folks) that all Presidents have received.

Of course, it is also possible that the increase is due to factors other than racism. Obama has been involved with some rather controversial actions (the bail out, health care reform, and so on) that have outraged some folks. People make threats over such things, despite the fact that it seems quite irrational to do so. As such, some of the increase in threats can be attributed to Obama’s actions rather than his race. Looking back at, for example, Abraham Lincoln, we can see that Presidents can be reviled for their actions (while Lincoln is seen as almost a demi-god today, in his own day he faced incredible hatred).

My own view is that the increase is due to a mix of these two factors and possibly others, such as the bad economy). The fact that he is black no doubt has lead to an increase in threats from racists. The fact that some folks revile his actions also has contributed. Plus, he also gets the usual blend of crazy folks who seem driven to threaten the President, no matter who he is.

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  1. magus71 said, on September 30, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    “I ran across claims that Obama has received up to four times the threats received by President Bush.”

    Can you give citations please? Or can the original claimants give citations?

    I’m going to do my own research; bet it’s not true.

    • biomass2 said, on September 30, 2009 at 8:01 pm

      See my last post on “The Assasination Poll”. It was written before I knew this article was up.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 1, 2009 at 11:06 am

      CNN quoted that increase. Perhaps it is a liberal media lie. However, Fox news did state that the Secret Service reported that Obama got more threats than any other candidate.

      Let me know what you find.

  2. magus71 said, on September 30, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    “Given the strong emotions Obama has inspired”


    You must be completely ignoring all the stuff I saw in the previous 8 yeras…

  3. magus71 said, on September 30, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Racist violence is so passe’.

    • biomass2 said, on September 30, 2009 at 9:47 pm

      Just like racism is no longer a significant issue, a real factor to consider? Remember our Monkeys and Politics, Again” discussion back in late Feb. early March? Remember the cartoon sent by Los Alamitos #Mayor# Dean Grose? The watermelon on the White House Lawn laugher?

      Some people may overemphasize the existence of racism. But some are “racism deniers”. They’ll make any excuse for such idiots.

      As long as there are racists and threats on the first black president the number of racist threats on this president will exceed those made on any preceding black president. How’s that.

      Let’s just hope that the guy outside an Obama town hall meeting carrying a gun and a sign referring to the famous Thomas Jefferson line that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants” is the true patriot he claims to be and not just a loopy bigot couching his true sentiments in patriotic symbolism. But wait. Maybe there *are* some out there who might proudly proclaim to the world that they’re both patriot and bigot (if they had the balls to do so in a few simple words).

      Where was this guy one year ago, two years ago, three years ago and more when the tree of liberty was struggling in the arguably nutrient-deficient earth of the Patriot Act? Why wait for this time, this president? Pardon me if I find the purity of his patriotic motives suspect.

      • magus71 said, on October 1, 2009 at 12:38 am

        I’m not a racism denier. Afterall, I’ve been called a Honkey before. I guess that means I’m white…

        There are tons of problems and issues, and racism’s one of them. But it gets over-played sometimes. And sometimes overplaying the hand contributes to the problem when people start getting resentful.

      • Collin said, on October 3, 2009 at 5:28 pm


        I guess it’s also a matter of where you live. For instance: I used to live in Lee County, FL. My brothers and I used to joke that Jim Crowe laws were still in effect for anyplace west of Matlacha (or 10 miles north-east of Fort Myers). I met people there who bragged about having ancestors in the Klan, and some of them were even branded on the inside of the lip. Racism may not be in the cosmopolitan areas, but in certain parts of the South, it still runs very deep.

  4. magus71 said, on September 30, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I suspect what you read was something like this masterpiece, which just tells us that Obama has received more threats, but then goes on to say the Secret Service won’t give any information. The article gives me nothing but opinion.

    Hmmm. abc news,,,,


    • biomass2 said, on September 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm

      You know that’s one of the reasons they call them the “Secret Service”, don’t you? 🙂 They tend to be pretty secretive about information that should not be in the public domain.

      Now “an individual in a position to know” or “our sources” may or may not be based within one party or another. Once in a while, some tidbit of information that pops up in The National Enquirer may actually be true.Same goes for Beck. Drudge. and,unfortunately enough most of the mainstream media. I would prefer it if no information from unnamed sources would ever be released from any form of media outlet. Fat chance of that.

      Meanwhile, you’re stuck with your best judgment. . .

  5. magus71 said, on September 30, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    90 attempts to kill a sitting or former president. Including George W. Bush.


    I’m not letting Obama get any sympathy votes.

    • biomass2 said, on September 30, 2009 at 8:00 pm

      Was this post about “threats” or “attempts”?

      • magus71 said, on September 30, 2009 at 11:47 pm

        He seems to imply that threats could lead to attempts.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 1, 2009 at 11:08 am

          Well, a threat could lead to an attempt. However, the connection is not necessary-people threaten without following up quite often.

          • T. J. Babson said, on October 1, 2009 at 12:36 pm

            It is not surprising that the number of threats is up–it may very well correlate with the unemployment rate, for example.

            It also depends on what is considered a threat. I suppose that poll Mike blogged about was considered a “threat” — else why the secret service interest? — but I’m afraid I didn’t see much of a threat there (just bad taste).

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 1, 2009 at 9:13 pm

              True-the unemployment rate probably does have a connection. The higher it gets, the more there are people who are worried and angry. Also, there are more folks with extra time on their hands.

            • magus71 said, on October 2, 2009 at 2:20 am

              I really don’t think the unemployement rate has anything to do with this unproven increase in threats.

              I love how this president is getting treated like everything that happens to him is motivated by some special hate, vast right-wing conspiracies and nutcases. When you can’t win by making policies that work, merely claim that the other side is out to get you. There is nothing happening to Obama that hasn’t happened to most other presidents. Stop whining, Lefties.

              Never saw Bush blame Clinton for anything.

            • biomass2 said, on October 12, 2009 at 3:47 pm

              “I love how this president is getting treated like everything that happens to him is motivated by some special hate, vast right-wing conspiracies and nutcases.”

              Republicans and Democrats alike have more or less claimed that the Nobel Peace Prize “happened” to Obama–that he did nothing to deserve it.#* Yet I’ve never once heard even one liberal or conservative claim that the prize came to him because of “hate,. . .conspiracies and nutcases.”

              “Never saw Bush blame Clinton for anything.”

              He left that up to Rove and the rest. For obvious reasons, Bush generally left other people speak for him.
              Conservatives during the Clinton years spent an inordinate amount of time blaming the Clintons for many things. Remember Whitewater, incl. Travelgate, Filegate? Much ado, and lots of government money wasted to prove, essentially, nothing. Remember Vince Foster? Killed himself, did he? Much ado; lots of smoke.

              #* There are a few notable recipients whose promise hadn’t produced results at the time they were given the award. Just over the last 25 or so years we’ve got Desmond Tutu (1984). . . “unifying leader in the fight against apartheid.” Apartheid didn’t fall until 1994. Arafat, Peres, and Rabin for “efforts to create Middle East peace. Good luck with that one.

              I don’t believe the Peace Prize committee gives a flying **** what the US or its appointed or self-appointed mouthpieces have to say about their choices; and I don’t blame them.Noble, peaceful goals cannot be achieved without struggle. Someone has to lead that struggle. If we always wait until the goal(s) have been achieved to present the award, the struggle is diminished.

            • The metiator said, on October 13, 2009 at 6:21 pm

              Why should Bush blame Clinton for anything, Clinton did a great job as President. Oh, and there is things happening to Obama that didn’t happened other presidents…let try “racism”. I do know that every threat that our president is getting isn’t race modivated, but lets be real about one thing he is getting a lot of racial tention from some of our stupid american people that can’t seem to get off the race garbage.

              I think what the american people should be thinking about right now is how to come together and embrace each other as true americans and help each other survive this crisis.

              Racism stinks and we as american people should do away with this nonsense. I love america and our american people no matter what race they are. You know the old saying united we stand and divided we fall, this statement is true in all aspect of living and fighting for peace.

              We need to give our president a chance to prove his self, and the length he has been in office is not nearly enough time to turn things back to a livable situation both economically and socially.

          • magus71 said, on October 4, 2009 at 1:20 am

            If there is never the potential of follow-up, the threat is impotent.

      • biomass2 said, on October 1, 2009 at 12:39 pm

        Threats > Attempts > Successes

        Maybe the threats are exaggerated and Obama only receives 3X the threats. Or 2X. Or less. Someone who knows statistics better than I do could figure out how increasing the threats, even by a small fraction might or might not increase the possible number of attempts and how increasing the attempts may increase the possibility of success. Understand, of course that the maximum number of successes can only be one if only one is being threatened. 😦

        Perhaps the number of threats does not increase the possibility of a successful assassination. In fact, I can’t think of any successful major assassinations that have been preceded by open threats.

        In that case,any increase in threats is merely disturbing or worse depending on the size of the increase. There’s always the deranged nutjob freakoid who may see a poll or yes even a movie as justification for his perversions. It may push his twisty button. In an ideal world we’d have a crazy detector sophisticated enough to distinguish the sad crazies from the dangerous crazies. Meanwhile we have only our common sense, and if we’re lucky the Secret Service, to protect us.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 1, 2009 at 9:12 pm

          Hard to say. Presumably more threats would tend to also correlate with more attempts (after all, the motivations to threaten and the motivations to act probably overlap). I suspect that the threat to attempt ratio is rather extreme, though. After all, if the Facebook poll is classified as a threat, then I would imagine that the threshold for a threat is very low indeed. Which also raises the question of whether the same measure of what counts as a threat is being used for Obama as was used for Bush and other presidents.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 1, 2009 at 11:07 am

      One downside of being President is that you become a magnet for threats.

  6. magus71 said, on September 30, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Oh. And here’s a who;e movie about the fictional assassination of George W. Bush.

  7. T. J. Babson said, on October 1, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Is this a death threat from Garrison Keillor?


    “Thirty-two percent of the population identifies with the GOP, and if we cut off health care to them, we could probably pay off the deficit in short order.”

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