Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, President Obama focused on the second part of his State of the Union goals of out-innovating, out-building, and out-competing the rest of the world, putting forward plans to build up the nation’s infrastructure, investing in things like high speed rail, and expanding broadband access so all of America’s families will be equipped to win the future. The Prime Minister of Canada also dropped by.
Find out more about the topics covered in this West Wing Week:
Three weeks ago, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) — the second-highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives — repeatedly refused to call theories that President Obama was not born in America “crazy.” He told Meet the Press’s David Gregory that “I don’t think it’s nice to call anyone crazy,” and refused to rebuke the wild conspiracy theories.
Today on the same program, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) also refused to repudiate such theories under a similar line of questioning from Gregory, who showed Boehner a Fox News clip in which several Iowa Republicans in a focus group said they believed Obama was a Muslim. Though Boehner was immediately willing to say he “believes” Obama is an American-born Christian, and that he takes the president “at his word,” Boehner would not repudiate those who think otherwise. Three separate times, Boehner told Gregory that “it’s not my job to tell the American people what to think”:
GREGORY: Do you not think it’s your responsibility to stand up to that kind of ignorance?
BOEHNER: David, it’s not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people. Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That’s good enough for me. The president says he’s a Christian. I accept him at his word.
GREGORY: But isn’t that a little bit fast and loose? I mean, you are the leader in Congress and you are not standing up to obvious facts and saying these are facts, and if you don’t believe that it’s nonsense?
BOEHNER: I just outlined the facts as I understand them. I believe that the president is a citizen. I believe the president is a Christian, I’ll take him at his word.
GREGORY: But that kind of ignorance over whether he’s a Muslim doesn’t concern you?
BOEHNER: Listen, the American people have the right to think what they want to think. I can’t — it’s not my job to tell them.