President Obama’s speech to Congress last week that was supposed to pump up flagging suport for his healthcare proposals seems to have had the opposite effect:

One week after President Obama’s speech to Congress, opposition to his health care reform plan has reached a new high of 55%. The latest Rasmussen Reports daily tracking poll shows that just 42% now support the plan, matching the low first reached in August.

How can this be? The left has an answer: Racism!

First we have former President Jimmy Carter, speaking to students at Emory University yesterday:

When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds…

I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African American.

It’s a racist attitude, and my hope is and my expectation is that in the future both Democratic leaders and Republican leaders will take the initiative in condemning that kind of unprecedented attack on the president of the United States.

Actually the protest signs, carried by some demonstrators at the massive protest in Washington on Sept. 12, said “Bury Obamacare with Kennedy,” not “Bury Obama With Kennedy.” But what’s one little syllable when you’re making a sweeping pronunciamento designed to put your political opponents and their ideas beyond the pale of acceptability? Anyway Carter seems to love to throw around the word “racist” these days. On Tuesday he accused South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of “racism” over his outburst “You lie!” during the president’s speech–so why not extend the the epithet to everyone else on the other side?

Why not indeed? So here’s Paul Waldman writing in the American Prospect:

The current fight over health-care reform is the arena in which this trend is becoming evident, but the details of that issue are not really motivating the most intense opponents. When you show up at a town hall debate and yell that reform represents “socialized medicine,” you just don’t know much about socialism (or health care, for that matter). But when you come to that town hall and shout “I want my America back!” through tears, you aren’t talking about health care at all.

And here’s Michael Lind, in an article in Salon titled “Uninsured Like Me”:

From the beginning, attempts to create a universal welfare state in the U.S. have been thwarted by the fears of voters that they will be taxed to subsidize other Americans who are unlike them in race or ethnicity or culture.

Accusing opponents of Obamacare of racism doesn’t fly with most Americans. A Rasmussen poll released yesterday found that only 12 percent of repondents thought that Obamacare opponents are racists, 67 percent disagreeing. Even White House press spokesman Robert Gibbs declared that Obama disagreed with the idea that criticising his health plan was racist.

But that hasn’t stopped the left from saying so anyway.  It sure hasn’t stopped Jimmy Carter.