September 16th, 2009
03:29 PM ET

Afternoon Buzz: Is Carter right about racism?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/15/carter.obama/art.carter.nbc.jpg]

Ella Perlis
AC360° Associate Producer

We are continuing our series on medical malpractice. Tonight, Randi Kaye profiles a doctor who saved a patient’s life and was sued months later for malpractice. She was cleared of all wrongdoing, but is left with the emotional trauma of the legal proceedings, and a hefty annual bill for malpractice insurance. A recent Harvard study reported that 40% of lawsuits brought against doctors are without merit. How do unfounded lawsuits affect medical treatment and the health care industry overall? We’ll dig deeper on this issue.

President Carter said he believes recent protests against President Obama are “based on racism.” He was asked specifically about Rep. Joe Wilson’s “you lie” outburst, but also said many Americans are demonstrating because they simply do not want an African American president. Do you think President Carter is right to assume that feelings of discontent are based on the President’s skin color? Will anyone who speaks out against President Obama’s policies be accused of being a racist? Is this happening only in the south (Joe Wilson represents South Carolina), or is that a misconception? How do you think President Obama feels about Carter’s statement, and will he address it this Sunday when appears on 5 talk shows, and as a guest on Letterman next Monday?

Michael Steele, the African American chair of the GOP, said President Carter is “flat out wrong,” and accused the Democrats of creating a distraction to take attention away from the health care debate.  Steele also called on President Obama to rebuff Carter’s statement. Rep. Wilson’s son, Alan, also joined the fray to defend his father, calling the allegations “ludicrous.”

Today Sen. Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, presented a summary of his long-awaited health care reform bill. It would cost $856 billion over 10 years (but not add to the federal deficit), and mandate insurance coverage for every American. The plan does not include a public option, but does incorporate nonprofit health care cooperatives. After so much hype about the gang of 6 reaching a bipartisan agreement, not 1 of the 3 Republican Senators is backing Baucus’s bill! Are you surprised that they couldn’t see eye to eye?

We are also following up on the investigation into Annie Le’s murder. Police are calling Raymond Clark, a Yale University animal research technician, a “person of interest.” Authorities took DNA samples from Clark when he was in custody Tuesday, but released him today as they continue their search for evidence. Clark lives with his fiancé who also works in the Yale lab. Tonight we'll have more on Le's murder, the cause of death, and new details about Clark.

What else are you following? Let us know and see you at 10 p.m. ET!

Filed under: Ella Perlis • The Buzz
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Today Democratic leaders are stampeding to distance themselves from Carter’s remarks. Perhaps they have half a brain after all. The charge is ridiculous. How many times did we here Democrats say dissent was patriotic under Bush? Now when they are in power, dissent is racist. Playing the race card is getting old fast, and will result in a backlash. 50% of this country oppose Obama’s policies, and don’t most of us take offense at being branded racist for disagreeing. The First Amendment didn't get waived in the last election. By the way, the only former KKK member I know in the Congress is Democratic Senator Byrd.

    September 16, 2009 at 8:24 pm |
  2. Katherine, Athens, Georgia

    With regard to President Carter's comment about Wilson's outburst, I believe he speaks from knowledge of an insidious arrogance that many White people have with regard to people of color. Wilson was wrong to express his disagreement on that occasion, but it happened then because he either consciously or unconsciously considers himself superior to the man who just happens to be POTUS. If he regarded the man as an equal or superior, he would have held his tongue during a Presidential address to the Congress. Therefore, it is my contention that President Carter is absolutely correct in his assessment that Wilson’s comment was racist because Wilson acts just like many of the White Supremacists I have had the misfortune to know.

    September 16, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  3. chris glenney sarasota, fl

    As a New Englander in exile in the South I can say first hand that I know President Carter is right. The undercurrents of racism are here and they are real.

    September 16, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  4. Bert

    I hope nobody tells the billions of people in China or the rest of the world, all they have to do is find a way to get across our border and they'll have Free Health Care, because no one is going to be checking legal status.

    September 16, 2009 at 8:14 pm |
  5. Carolyn

    From my perspective this is more about fear and ignorance, but it is defined as "racism." And yes, I think these characteristics abound in the majority of our southern states. But it is very important to note that this is not a blanket statement about any one group of people. This is about individuals who use any perceived vulnerability as a weapon/tool to manipulate others for control and to mask their own insecurities.

    I have been discriminated against by individuals of different colors, sexes and nationalities, but I have also been humbled by the kindness and respect of the same as well.

    I see a lot more gray than black and white in some of these issues.

    September 16, 2009 at 8:09 pm |
  6. Bert

    It is not about Racism, it's about USA Bankruptcy. Illegal Immigration and Health Care, without enforcement we have nothing but paying the bills. No matter if the wording says no health care for Illegals, without the ability to ck status, there will be no enforcement.
    Right now the Illegals are not un-insured; the insurance is called the Emergency Room and it is a major reason our health care bills are so high. Is there any thing in the new legislation, which would curtail this Emergency Room Insurance, now being given to all Illegals? If not we’ll keep going bankrupt.

    September 16, 2009 at 7:58 pm |
  7. Ron San Bruno, Ca

    Yes. President Carter,is correct about Racism.

    September 16, 2009 at 7:39 pm |
  8. ken, mcallen Tx

    for sure!

    September 16, 2009 at 7:23 pm |
  9. wendy johnson

    i been knowin this. am a regular on topix. com (entertainment..offbeat) theres are so many racist discussion goin on about president obama and blacks..and the topic discussion is not about either..or.Some angry Republican always throws it in the conversation.

    September 16, 2009 at 7:19 pm |
  10. Tammy Merritt, Goleta, CA

    Yes, Carter is correct! That "Angry Mob" of protesters on the mall, seem an AWFUL lot like a Lynch Mob. It is so sad that.
    It seems like much of the "protest" against Obama is just masking racism. Please call it out!

    September 16, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  11. George Johnson

    This is comming from Jimmy Carter the racists and obama calling police racists look to the Democrats for playing the racism card.

    September 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  12. Lori

    I'm white , growing up back and forth from bkny and Texas.I see racist of all kinds. It's time this country stop saying they are not. Republicans would not have jump so fast to say Obama was a Muslim. If he where a white man that went to school in another country! We didn't carry pictures of Bush in cowboy hat & boots, Calling him a red neck! We are allowing people to carry pictures of Obama dressed up as a witch doctor! It is what it is! So call it what it is! Racist! My son is half Hispanic & white. He went to school and saw the Prez speech, he also said all the white kids in school walked out! It is what it is!

    September 16, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  13. june

    Whatever it is, there is absolute and complete disrespect for the President of the United States.

    September 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  14. Mary

    I'm so tired of hearing the liberals using the race card or racist implications just because we don't agree with everything Obama says. Carter is just plain out of touch. Did we forget how hateful everyone was of President Bush espically Hollywood and the frezy media. How about all the name calling they called him. Did we see anyone getting upset or cry foul. We should respect the President but as an American we have the right to freedom of speech and can disagree with what ever the president or congress's policies are without using the race card or racism.

    September 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  15. Nancy C

    President Carter is being honest. But not all critics are racists and we must realize that some people voice opinions based on fact,not , by the color of a persons skin.

    September 16, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  16. Renee

    I'm just tired of all the Hidden Racism going on Anderson. Its like. we have freedom of speech, but media wont say what they really mean because it might be offensive to viewers, yet, there can be Tea party rallies with threats against the President? I'd say say what we feel. we all know racism hasn't vanished in America, America isn't as "Equal" as some say it is. and until we finally publicize THAT in the media, then America will continue to be the Lying, Stealing, Racial S.A. country it sees to fit. Sorry, that's how i see it.

    September 16, 2009 at 6:05 pm |
  17. mary b

    Having lived many years in the South, I can say that racism is alive and well in America. All one has to do is check out the protest signs of some the tea baggers to see that race does indeed play its part with some of these individuals dislike for the president.

    Some of these folks are racists to the core and some are not. It's not a black and white issue...no pun.

    September 16, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  18. Anna Sambursky

    Not all of the opposition and anger toward Obama is fueled by racism, but enough of it is that we should be worried. To ignore blatant signs of racism at rallies and public events is going to encourage more racists to come out of hiding.

    September 16, 2009 at 6:01 pm |
  19. Omega Zareno

    I'm so glad people are finally bringing the racism issue to light. I sincerely believe that President Obama is facing additional challenges because of the color of his skin. President Carter is absolutley right. The accused racists will deny their hatred becuase they themselves don't realize it's there. But deep down, people like Wilson oppose anything that has to do with President Obama because of his race.

    September 16, 2009 at 5:59 pm |
  20. Ruth

    I voted for Obama and think he is doing a wonderful job despite the mess he inheirited from his bumbling predecessor. I listened to Jimmy Carter's comments twice last night on AC 360 and found nothing offensive in what he said. Sadly but truly, this country has a long way to go on issues of race despite the strides we have made. P.S. I was raised predominantly during my childhood by an African American although I am white. She taught me more about race relations and tolerance than anyone I have encountered since that time.

    September 16, 2009 at 5:58 pm |
  21. Elizabeth

    I absolutely agree that President Carter is dead on in his analysis of the situation. How are all these folks writing in and saying racism is not a part of the comments being directed at President Obama? What does a Nazi sign or pictures of Hitler or of African Witch doctors have to do with healthcare reform? Who ever took their children out of schools when Bush was slated to talk about education? Who ever yelled inappropriate comments at a President while he was giving an address in the chamber? Where are all of the decent Republicans who will call out racism like it is? Being Republican is not a bad thing. Having an issue about healthcare reform is not a bad thing. I can respect that, even though I am a Democrat and I happen to believe it is ALL of our responsibility to take care of the people in this country. What I cannot respect is racism and the little people who hide behind it. Seriously, wake up.

    September 16, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  22. Rebecca Rak Streetsboro, OH

    I agree with Fmr. President Carter.
    I'd love to say that racism doesn't play a role in our society today, because it would be awesome, but it'd be lying. I can't tell you how many times I've heard whispered words insulting the race of our President. Then, confronting them, they always say, "I don't like him because he's a socialist," or "NoBama Healthcare" or some other reason. Now I'm not saying people don't have those concerns, but I think many of the "concerned" are actually racists hiding.

    September 16, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  23. jaw312

    Underneath it all is exactly what Carter said. The offenders just can't accept the fact that a Black man is qualified and President.

    Why you ask? Because it renders everything they've been taught to believe a lie. A Black President is proof of their flawed ideology. And thus, the call to arms. The sane among us know it shouldn't matter as long as you honestly win the election and take the oath.

    Yes the Tea Party crowd has some valid concerns and I as a Black man share some of them. But race is being used to inflame and escalate these very real issues into abject outrage simply because they are being implemented and driven by a Black man. That always makes just about anything all the more terrible – doesn't it?

    This is wrong, grossly irresponsible and yes racist when those leaders don't denounce this manipulation. Instead they use racism as an underhanded tool to light the match, sit back to watch the blaze, then deny racism exists.

    September 16, 2009 at 5:34 pm |
  24. Larry

    Where's the cry of racism when a white lab tech. gets taken in by police as 'a person of interest' in the murder of an Asian student, with his name & face all over the news. Does racism only apply if she was black?

    September 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  25. Jeff

    What is Carter's agenda for such a comment. Are we to suppose that every time someone confronts or disagrees the President that it is based on race? I believe there are people who love to say these things just to stir the pot.

    C'mon people, use some common sense!!!!!!

    September 16, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  26. natalie from cleveland

    i know too many people who are unhappy with the administration to blame the demonstrating soley on racism.

    September 16, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  27. quentin

    If speaking your mind in front of a group of people and on national tv and disagring with somebody else of a different color is racisim why are Dems not trying to have Kanye West removed form his record deals and other enterprises. If he was just voicing his opinon on who should havve won then leave Joe Wilson and other people alone for expessing their own opinons!!

    September 16, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  28. Charlie

    Go ahead & pretend there's no racism, but it's apparent the republicans are welcoming the lunitic fringe into the party. After all, has anybody witnessed one republican stand up to these people? How about refusing to allow them into these gatherings? Or on CNN has anybody in the republican party put down the behavior beyond labeling as a extreme minority? Nope, I'm white & it's too bad so many white people are still living in the 1960's

    September 16, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  29. alicenyc

    It was about time someonesaid it. President Obama doesn't want to make it the issue but he knows it as well. All of the critics are not racist but they are aligning themselves with those who are. It only hurts the critics of policy ( which may or not be legit) to do so. They must weed themselves from those groups in order to seem legitimate. It is ok to critic but not in the racial tones that are being shown. The GOP does not seperate themselves from those folks so it leaves one to wonder why? BRAVO PRESIDENT CARTER YOU HAVE SOME GUTS... although another word would be more appropriate.

    September 16, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  30. Mark Miele

    I do think Former President Carter is right. What I find really frightening is the level and intensity of the hatred that is being directed at President Obama. Going back to President Eisenhower (first President I remember) I have never seen such intense hatred. What are we teaching the younger generation? It's truly frightening.

    September 16, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  31. Tim Gibson

    Jimmy needs to stick to peanut farming. This has nothing to do about skin color and everything to do with politics and lies.

    September 16, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  32. R Berry

    The comments about the country's disapproval of Obama Care, are not based in race. Jimmy Carter is an idiot.
    They are based in continual misrepresentations of the facts. The outburst was based on frustration over many facts that Obama inaccuratly states about his healthcare bill. He said it did not have funds for illegals. It does. As an attorney, he knows and understands this. His bill says no healthcare shall be provided for illegals, however, has no consequencial actions for payments made to illegals for health care. This deliberate deleation of consequence is acknowledgement of his approval for healthcare payments to illegals.
    This is why the comment was made. Obama is a liar and believes he can manipulate the american people into his vison of a socialist country.
    Most people who have the mental ability to understand this are very frustrated at the democratic parties abuse of the excuse, racism, when in fact it is frustration over his stupidity, white or black

    September 16, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  33. Scott

    Carter is a Nut! He is the one who sees President Obama as an African American, rather than as an American. Our country is in serious trouble if this is all we have to talk about. Why no mention of the white kid who was almost beaten to death 2 days ago on a school bus. The police say that the entire incident was racially motivated, but the media is mute. Rev. Al, why aren't you denouncing all racial hatred???

    September 16, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  34. Joe B

    Anderson, I just wanted to say, You just had Roland on your show and he made the comment that there where white men on a bus that got beat up by black men but this was not racist act. That is a typical answer and reverse racism. And I am tired of it. If that where white men beating up black men we would have another Rodney King thing going on in this country. Rev Jackson and everyone else would be out in force on how the black man is being discriminated against. When in fact the story is getting old and tiredsom.

    September 16, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  35. Honey

    Being from the South I agree with Mr. Carter, the only reason people are coming down on Mr. Obama b/c he's half black. If He looked more like his mother I don't think people would be so hard on him.

    September 16, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  36. Michelle Johnson, Lomita, CA

    I'm enjoying the debates, with the opposing opinions, controversial topics, interesting guests, and energy!

    September 16, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  37. Katrina

    I'm so glad former President Carter spoke out about what is the sad truth underlying the real negitivity against President Obama!
    Yes we are still in the grip of one of the worst econmic times since the depression, however, this mess was already made before he got into office. Eight months in office ,and while I along with the rest of America we do want prosperity to return, but we need to stand behind our President! Didn't we vote for change.
    George W. Bush ruined this country, illegal wiretapping,spending up our surplus into the trillions, allowing torture, ignoring the constitution for his benifit, and putting us in a war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, but Obama trying to fix health care, have a educated convesation to our children so he 's the bad guy now, he,s a socialist.
    give me abreak! He's a black man running this country, white america is scared!

    September 16, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  38. Andre

    President Carter is right on the money, racism does exist and some of these protests around the country seems to be based on these folks insecurity of having an Afro-American as a President.
    I don't ever recall hearing about Tea Party's when President Bush successfully tripled the national deficit during his first term. Let's give our sitting President a fighting chance to do his job, he did campaign for two years supporting Universal Health Care for all Americans!

    September 16, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  39. Anne Kress

    Former President Carter's comments re racism are Carter's thoughts
    pinned down and not necessarily the truth pinned down. It
    can't be denied that IF THE U.S. were racist, Obama would not
    be president. Let's not take one step forward and 3 steps
    backward on the road to true civilization.

    September 16, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  40. Isabel Siaba

    The fact of Pres Obama has a formal education enabled him to exceed the boundaries of the world, world which is much more white than black, but not free him from the racism that he already must have faced a lot in life.

    September 16, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  41. T Zee Farrow

    President Carter
    Yes, I think President Carter is right, racism has found and opportunity to show its face behind another name, tea party revolt. We saw these revolts like this come out during the presidential campaign and continue to build until candidate McCain showed he is a decent man with the guts put an end to it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in our find country with twisted ideals that are looking for a group where they can express them, like The Tea Party. We have seen these kinds of things come up and quickly go away if the leader is not part of the problem and has the guts to set the standards for his group.

    September 16, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  42. Larry

    Fearing accusations of being called a racist is what got obama elected.

    September 16, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  43. Eli MN

    As a Cuban American and as a person considered a conservative, i tell Cindi from GA, the following stop and call a spade a spade.here in the mn in the middle of the country you clearly see the racial undertone
    of the Obama bashing when people gather perticularly Rep.All that was needed at that Rally in washington was a cross and the KKK burning it and the chanting around it. at the very least you and anyone seeing the spectacall have to admit that a lot of people had very racist signs. if you where their than you by condone it may partace of the blame for the action. in law terms it is called guilt by complicity. if a crime is commited and you partake in the commision of same crime, you get to participate in the punishment too.

    September 16, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  44. Larry

    I think Jimmy has been getting too much advice from his brother.

    September 16, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  45. Amazing

    Personally Obama seems like a nice guy, who means well, kind of like Carter. Good Humanitarians make LOUSY presidents. Carter is way off base claiming race. How do you make Wilson out to be a racist by saying "YOU LIE", when Obama is not being honest. Call the Tea baggers racist, when they are protesting taxes. Keep playing the race card and see where that gets things.

    September 16, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  46. Gary

    It appears the losing team is against anything and everything. The "my way or the highway bunch", needs to sit down and think about what is best for the majority of the people, not just the "special interest bunch".

    September 16, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  47. Cindy

    Oh yeah, let's listen to Carter the man who almost ruined the United States when he was the president.

    His statement is ridiculous. People are protesting his agendas not his skin color. Even Obama himself has stated that the protests are not about his race. So why do nuts like Carter keep stirring the pot to keep this innuendo and falsehood up? He's just a has been trying to get a little time in the spot light.


    September 16, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  48. Mary

    A health care bill without a public option, but a mandate forcing everyone to buy into a health insurance plan is definitely a gift to the insurance companies. The idea of co-ops is just another way of creating huge profits for insurance companies and will not cut costs for the consumers. Baucus's bill is totally unacceptable and should be thrown out immediately. Of course we all knew that this man could not be relied upon to write a bill that would be favorable to the uninsured in this country, since Mr. Baucus has such strong ties to the insurance companies and their lobbyists.

    September 16, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  49. L Dickinson, UT

    Former President Carter is out of touch and irresponsible with his his comments. We as citizens are guaranteed the right to criticize our leadership regardless of race, creed or color. The comment Rep. Wilson made was disrespectful and he recanted, to tag it as racist is out of line.

    September 16, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  50. Beverly

    having lived all of his life in the south – and still does – President Carter certainly can speak as to whether Wilson's remarks had a racial undertone to it. i don't think he's speaking out to help the democrats as some are saying. he calls them as he sees them.

    September 16, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
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