Rush Limbaugh Was Not On Obama’s Trip To Ghana

Barely two days after President Barack H. Obama’s landmark tour of Ghana, America’s white-conservative talk-radio pontiff Mr. Rush Limbaugh was reported in an article published on to be calling the first African-American president of the United States of America a shameless “hypocrite.”

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Now, it is significant to point out that this writer, an avid reader of “Obama News,” and a great admirer of the man, long before the former Chicago community-organizer-turned-politician and, presently, a national hero cum global icon, assumed his latter legendary status is not calling Mr. Obama “a Black President.” For being a black president invidiously and flagrantly inaccurately presupposes the sort of cavalier connotation readily associated with local and congressional African-American politicians by mainstream – or white – America.

We need to get the latter out of the way, because many Americans, irrespective of race and ethnicity, confronted with Mr. Obama’s unprecedented achievement, have a hard time envisaging the Hawaiian-born half-Kenyan and White-American for what he veritably is – the substantive President of the United States of America and, proverbially and metaphorically, the most powerful human political operative in the universe.

Now, unless one has lived at least a generation, or even two, as a black or non-white citizen of America, as this writer has right here in the United States, the latter statement may aptly be perceived as patently hyperbolic or even presumptuous. And on the latter score, perhaps, the reader ought to be promptly reminded that living in America in the pre-Obama days was too precarious for any non-white citizen or resident of the “U-S-of-A” to presume to take anything for granted, particularly when it came to legal and judicial interpretation and the socio-cultural execution of both.

I am not, of course, the least bit either suggesting or implying that in terms of race relations in the Obama era, Americans are virtually resident in Utopia. We are not quite there yet; and may actually be too far away from it in my lifetime for any well-meaning human to begin talking about the sort of ideal political climate that would readily render race – and gender, too, of course – a historical relic.

The preceding notwithstanding, it ought to be readily attested and even acclaimed and widely celebrated, the fact that America has given its otherwise diligent and noble polity the notorious gadfly likes of Mr. Rush Limbaugh. For while, indeed, one may not agree with this white-conservative shock-jock, just like this writer, media personalities like Mr. Limbaugh offer the necessary alternative to an otherwise vapid “monological” discourse on national politics. This is what makes advanced democracies the veritable envy that they are to the rest of the world, particularly those democratically benighted African countries whose clinically adamant and obtuse leadership Mr. Obama sought to address on his first and most recent official visit to Ghana.

As to whether in seeking to auspiciously have sanity reign on the continental African political landscape, President Obama, in the rather colorful imagination of Mr. Limbaugh, is also seeking to, paradoxically, morph himself into a mere African despot in the “White House,” is a rather reprehensible observation that ought to be squarely envisaged for what it is, a racist remark!

What makes the foregoing observation even more flagrant is the pretentiously benign, and even near-comedic, manner in which Mr. Limbaugh approaches it. And here, it is only fair for us to quote the exact words of the multi-millionaire shock-jock for the benefit of our readers: “And he [President Obama] wasn’t even speaking to Ghana [in his parliamentary address to Africa as a whole]. You know his primary audience is right here. His primary audience [is right here] at home. He wants to govern like the people he is lecturing. Obama wants to govern like an African colonial. So he needs a cover” (See “Rush Limbaugh on Obama’s Trip to Ghana” 7/13/09; emphasis added).

There is a familiar contradiction in the preceding. First of all, if, indeed, the primary audience of President Obama’s address to the full-session of Ghana’s parliament resides right here, in the United States, then what reason does Mr. Limbaugh have for the speech’s contextual incongruity? But, of course, the latter question is clearly beside the point. The real objective of this notorious verbal assailant is to curiously, if also deliberately, equate both the personality and presidency of Mr. Obama with the most painful, and at once humiliating, moment of twentieth-century African history, Western-European colonialism. And this is precisely why Mr. Limbaugh would describe President Obama as a man who “wants to govern like an African colonial.” And generally speaking, how is the “African colonial” traditionally perceived by the Western (literary) imagination?

One does not need to read Joseph Conrad’s short novel “Heart of Darkness” in order to arrive at any authoritative conclusion. Simply put, an “African colonial,” as the imperialist likes of Joyce Cary ( See “Mister Johnson”) prefer to envisage the same, is one who lacks creative and vital initiative and is at best robotically imitative, a barely polished simian in cultural and behavioral mannerisms. And it is squarely based on the foregoing stereotype of the continental African that Mr. Limbaugh, a barely coherent political commentator and scarcely logical and a veritable intellectual pedestrian is able to simply and cavalierly characterize President Obama as the very epitome of administrative “incompetence.”

For the record, the following are the exact words of Mr. Limbaugh’s, as published by “So Obama bops into Ghana. He says he’s an American president who has ‘the blood of Africa within me’ and then starts telling Africa what it’s gotta do. Now, I have German and Dutch blood in me. Does that entitle me to get off the plane in, say, Berlin and start telling them how to do things? I know, I know, I know, ‘Rush, it’s a very important step in American history.’ No, it’s not, because it justifies incompetence” ( 7/13/09).

The foregoing quote is nothing short of interesting on several fronts. First of all, it clearly appears as if Mr. Limbaugh is suggesting that both the fact of his half-African ancestry and his “black” Democratic Party credentials make President Obama an immutably, or innately, incompetent American president. Secondly, the geographical incongruity of Mr. Limbaugh’s comparison vis-à-vis his Germanic blood and President Obama’s half-Kenyan blood readily gives the lie away.

The fact of the matter is that while Mr. Obama had deliberately and wisely avoided making Kenya the maiden stopover of his presidential African tour, Mr. Limbaugh’s hypothetical European equivalent selects precisely the two Germanic countries with genetic claims to his cultural identity. And, needless to say, thinly veiled beneath is the lurid question of racial and ethnic supremacy. For not only would it be patently unnecessary and even outright superfluous for a President Limbaugh to “bop into” either Berlin or Den Haag and presume to “lecture” these two fairly advanced democracies on how to husband their national affairs, the obverse implication that a president elected by a predominantly white-American electorate has absolutely no business presuming to even rhetorically enlighten colonially-minded African leaders is unmistakable.

Ultimately, Mr. Limbaugh pathetically exposes himself for the self-centered cynic that he is widely known to be. Indeed, clearly sensing and, perhaps, even eerily that in terms of administrative competence, his sometime ideological hero, ex-President George W. Bush (or “Baby Bush”) is far and away a nondescript Lilliputian, or administrative midget relative to President Obama, mischievously resorts to the acrobatic appropriation of semantics: “You can exploit the economy to enrich yourself politically, maybe not financially – and that’s what Obama and the Democrats are doing. They are exploiting our economy, they are destroying it to enrich themselves politically.”

Understandably, Rush appears to be either/both too shy and/or ashamed to talk about the brazenly opportunistic and flagrant use of the White House and, in particular, the Oval Office by Messrs. Bush and Cheney to stoke the flames of unprovoked military aggression for the “cronyistic” benefit of the major shareholders of Texaco and Halliburton.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is also a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI), the pro-democracy think tank, and the author of 20 books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (, 2005).


The opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of AfricaNewsAnalysis.