On the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, conservative media launched a bizarre new smear of President Obama.
It’s not exactly a secret that President Obama looks to Abraham Lincoln as a political hero. When Obama was inaugurated, he used Lincoln’s Bible, and when it came time to place items of significance in the Oval Office, Obama chose a Lincoln bust and the Emancipation Proclamation.
Fox News is manufacturing outrage over Obama’s decision not to attend the commemoration ceremony for the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address and baselessly speculating that Obama’s resentment over the nation’s unfinished business “in bringing the country and its races together” may be the cause. […]
Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade discussed with Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger whether it is “inappropriate for our president to bypass” the commemoration ceremony of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address during the November 19 edition of Fox & Friends. At one point Kilmeade asked whether Henninger thought Obama was refusing to attend because “after that address and after the Civil War we still weren’t a perfect union? We still had to wait for the Civil Rights Act and so many – the integration of schools, Brown vs. the Board of Education?” Henninger replied, “I think probably that President Obama does think the unfinished business remains unfinished in bringing the country and its races together.”
It’s worth noting that Fox isn’t the only one raising a fuss – conservative outlets have been complaining about Obama “snubbing” Gettysburg for months.
There are, however, some angles to this the right has overlooked. First, there have been 28 presidents since Lincoln, and 27 of them did not commemorate the anniversaries of the Gettysburg Address – and this includes Reagan, who did nothing on the 125th anniversary, and never visited Gettysburg as president. (The exception was William Howard Taft.) Obama, in other words, is doing largely what nearly all of his predecessors have done without controversy.
Second, I’m trying to imagine the uproar from some of these same conservative critics if Obama did go to Gettysburg to mark the occasion today. We can all probably imagine the predictable rhetoric: Obama thinks he’s Lincoln! The arrogance! Why is he trying to politicize a cemetery? This must have something to do with distracting us from the health care website! And maybe Benghazi!
President Obama’s recitation of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is sparking hysteria from the right-wing media who slammed the president for omitting the phrase “under God.”
The right’s apoplexy on this was extremely broad – National Review, Breitbart, Daily Caller, Drudge, and others ran furious pieces expressing outrage that Obama had the nerve to omit the phrase “under God” from his recent recitation of the Gettysburg Address. Rush Limbaugh speculated that the president did this on purpose to “get a rise out of conservatives.”
The truth is less provocative. Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns had a variety of prominent figures – including all five living presidents – to read portions of the Address for a video. Burns relied on the text of the first draft of the speech – which did not include the words “under God.”
In other words, the right became apoplectic about Obama not using a phrase Lincoln didn’t write.
Conservative media has struggled badly of late, with a list of ignominious failures too long to list. Today does little to improve its reputation.
On his Fox News show yesterday, Howard Kurtz sat down with Bob Woodward and raised a question that caught me a little off guard. “Some of the president’s detractors compare every scandal to Watergate, with which you are famously associated,” Kurtz said. “And so Benghazi is worse than Watergate. IRS was worse than Watergate. Bill Kristol said the other day that Obamacare is worse than Watergate in its impact on the country. What do you make of those comparisons?”
Woodward, who’s had some unfortunate missteps this year, didn’t fully answer, but the question itself gave me pause. Bill Kristol actually said the other day that Obamacare is worse than Watergate?
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich this week compared the Affordable Care Act to the Watergate Scandal, but Kristol believes the healthcare law is far worse. “Obamacare, honestly, will do more damage to the country than Watergate ever could’ve done,” he said.
“Watergate was stupid, petty, partisan politics and [President Richard] Nixon did misuse the Oval Office and then did lie to the country about it, probably. But, here, we have a legislative takeover of a huge percentage of the economy and an area that’s so important to everyone’s lives.”
Remember, as far as the Beltway is concerned, Bill Kristol is an establishment figure in good standing. He also thinks Nixon “probably” lied about the criminal conspiracy the disgraced president ran out of the Oval Office.
But it’s the comparison to the Affordable Care Act that’s uniquely incomprehensible. “Obamacare” critics are on safe ground complaining about a dysfunctional website, but to suggest that the law itself – a Republican-friendly reform system, which focuses on private insurers, cost-saving measures, and deficit reduction – is worse than the constitutional crisis posed by the Nixon White House becoming a criminal enterprise is plainly silly , even for contemporary Republicans.
That said, I suppose it’s time to updating a post from last year. Republicans are on record arguing:
In May, Peggy Noonan was so overwhelmed by her contempt for the president, she wrote in her column, “We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate,” and then neglected to mention which perceived “scandal” she was even referring to.
If you’re thinking this overheated nonsense is hard to take seriously, you’re not the only one.
I saw a congressman repeat the same absurd talking point on MSNBC yesterday. Apparently this is their latest ploy to win support as the days wind down for making a decision on the continuing resolution process. Looks like a small sect in the GOP will stop at nothing to make the POTUS blink.
In a Monday interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Priebus agreed with Hewitt’s suggestion that Obama is orchestrating “domestic paralysis.” The duo discussed two key fiscal deadlines that are looming — the Oct. 1 deadline for a stopgap funding measure and the need to raise the debt ceiling to meet subsequent expenses.
“I think he wants this thing to happen, a shutdown of the government,” Priebus told Hewitt. “I’m totally cynical on the thing. I think that’s exactly what he wants.”
“I, in fact, think he’s got a bunch of Democrats that are sick and tired of it as well, because they’re sitting in red states, and they’re nervous as anything that they’re going to get stuck with Obamacare, and then they’re going to have to go out there and defend it,” Priebus said.
Priebus has been direct in his criticisms of Obama over recent weeks. After the president’s address on Syria last Tuesday, the RNC Chairman called his remarks a global embarrassment.
“The administration’s handling of the U.S. response to Syria has been so haphazard it’s disappointed even the president’s most ardent supporters,” Priebus said in a statement. “This rudderless diplomacy has embarrassed America on the world stage. For a president who campaigned on building American credibility abroad, the lack of leadership coming from the Oval Office is astounding.”
Barack Obama’s presidency has been an inspiration to many Americans—especially nut-jobs Ever since the first-black-president-to-be appeared on the national political stage, a cottage industry of conservative conspiracy theorists has churned out bizarro, paranoid, and just plain racist effluvia—some of which has trickled into the political mainstream. Below, we’ve charted some of the Obama-baiters best (i.e., worst) work. (Scroll down for more detailed descriptions of the conspiracy theories in the diagram.)
THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES
Disclaimer: It should go without saying that none of these are true. Follow links at your own risk.
Obama is a secret Muslim: This one began right after he took the stage at the 2004 Democratic convention, with chain emails alleging his “true” religious affiliation. The rumor soon found its way onto the popular conservative online forum Free Republic, and took on a whole new life in the years to come. Related: Obama secretly speaks Arabic, attended a madrassa as a kid in Indonesia, referred to “my Muslim faith” in an interview, and was sworn in on a Koran.
Obama is bringing 100 million Muslims to America: Avi Lipkin and his PR outfit Special Guests claimed to have evidence of a scheme to bring roughly 100 million Muslims from the Middle East into the United States, converting the country into an Islamic nation by the end of Obama’s second term and making it easier to obliterate Israel.
Obama once aided the mujahideen: Harlem pastor and professional race-baiter James David Manning contended that in his younger days, Obama went undercover as a CIA agent to facilitate the transfer of cash and weapons to the Afghan mujahideen in the ’80s, thereby aiding what would become the Taliban.
Obama is in the pocket of the Muslim Brotherhood: Billy Graham’s son Franklin wants you to know that Obama is allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to take over the federal government.
Obama redecorated the Oval Office in Middle Eastern style: Driven by his fierce sense of anti-American interior design, Obama got rid of the red, white, and blue decoration scheme in his White House office.
Obama married a Pakistani guy:World Net Daily correspondent and conspiracymonger extraordinaire Jerome Corsi posted a videoin which he claimed to have “strong” evidence that Obama was once married to his college roommate from Pakistan. The smoking gun: Photos of the chums in which the future president is “sitting about on the [Pakistani roommate’s] lap.” Related:For years Obama wore a gold ring on his left hand. Was it his gay-wedding ring?
Obama’s ring has a Koranic verse on it: The very same ring, which Obama now wears as his (straight) wedding band, is allegedly emblazoned with a key phrase in the Islamic declaration of faith: “There is no god except Allah.” (It’s not.)
Obama was funded by a Saudi prince: Another fairy tale courtesy of Corsi: In late-’70s Chicago, Obama secured political and academic funding from a variety of sketchy Arab sponsors, including a Saudi prince. Which may explain why President Obama bowed to the Saudi king when they met in 2009.
Michelle’s “whitey” tape: During the 2008 campaign, rumors surfaced that a video of Michelle Obama using the word “whitey” would be released to sink her husband’s campaign. It’s never materialized. Related: The time Glenn Beck called Barack Obama a racist.
Obama is the son of Malcolm X: Because, you know, black people. This charmer popped up on Atlas Shrugged, Pamela Geller’s anti-Muslim website. (Geller is also known for obsessing over Shariah turkeys she believes are destroying Thanksgiving.)
Obama is the son of Frank Marshall Davis: The conspiracy film Dreams From My Real Fatherespouses the theory that Davis, a leftist activist, was not only Obama’s ideological mentor but his biological father. Related: Obama got a nose job to make his nose look less like Davis’.
Obama’s mom and dad were communists: That would be his real father, Barack Obama, Sr. And you know that communism is an inherited condition.
Obama’s ghostwriter was Bill Ayers: Conservative commentators claimed they uncovered evidence that ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers was the true author of Obama’s 1995 memoir Dreams from my Father. Beyond their shared radicalism, Obama asked Ayers to help because he had writer’s block.
Obama trained to overthrow the government: In 2008, leading Obama conspiracy theorist Andy Martin declared on Fox News’ Hannity’s America that the then-presidential candidate had trained for “a radical overthrow of the government” during his time as a community organizer in Chicago.
Obama wouldn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance: During the ’08 campaign, Obama was rumored to have refused to say the pledge during a town hall meeting. A photo of the incident was actually taken while the national anthem was being sung.
Obama removed the flag from Air Force One: …and replaced it with his campaign logo.
Obama ordered soldiers to swear allegiance to him: In April 2009, a clearly satirical report detailing how secretary of defense Robert Gates was growing “extremely frustrated” with the White House’s plans to scrub the Constitution from the military oath of loyalty made the rounds on the right-wing blogosphere.
Obama secretly gave away American islands to Russia: Texas House candidate Wes Riddle endorsed this theory and noted the relinquishment as grounds for impeachment. However, the seven Arctic islands were actually given away in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush.Steve Brodner
Obama caused the recession—in 1995: According to a recent Daily Caller story, Obama’s efforts to force banks to lend to African Americans in the mid-’90s led to the subprime mortgage crisis that killed the economy in 2008.
Obama’s coming for your guns: Extreme gun-rights outfits, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), alleged that the Obama administration is supporting the (nonexistent) United Nations Small Arms Treaty, which would lead to nationwide gun confiscation. Unfounded fears of gun confiscation have multiplied since the Newtown massacre.
Obama’s coming for your gold: This theory was floated by Glenn Beck—and the gold company he shilled for.
Obama is planning FEMA concentration camps: Again with the camps. This theory got a big boost from Glenn Beck (who claims he didn’t mean anything by it). Related: An executive order titled, “National Defense Resources Preparedness,” was issued in the middle of March 2012. Conservative commentators saw it as a martial law power-grab that allowed the president to commandeer farmland, steal everyone’s food, and draft any American into slave labor for a war of aggression against Iran. Also, he has a “secret vault” at Interpol’s headquarters for imprisoning Americans. (Chuck Norris is on the case.)
Obama caused the BP oil spill: Conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones promoted the theory that the Deepwater Horizon spill was all part of the administration’s plans of oil nationalization and global government.
Obama was behind the Aurora massacre: In July, Gun Owners of America blasted out a press release claiming that the mass murder at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was suspiciously timed. “Someone in Washington” was probably behind it, paving the way for Obama-led firearm confiscation and “government genocide.”
Obama personally caused Hurricane Sandy: It wasn’t global warming that made Sandy so intense; it was Barack. Alex Jones’ site reportedthe president engineered the storm using a Pentagon weather modification project. The mayhem caused by the hurricane would afford Obama the opportunity to score points by briskly managing disaster relief a week before the election.
Obama had Andrew Breitbart killed: In March 2012, conservative media impresario Andrew Breitbart died of heart failure. Less than a month prior to his death, he had announced that he had uncovered footage of Obama’s formative years as a radical. So obviously, Obama had him offed. (The tapes were later revealed to contain things like a young Obama hugging a black college professor.) Related: People—like a Rod Blagojevich fundraiser and an Obama impersonator—died between 2008 and 2012. Obama was in office between 2008 and 2012…coincidence?!?!
Obama spiked the jobs report: “Jobs truthers” (like former GE CEO Jack Welch and Florida tea party congressman Allen West) accused the Obama administration of cooking the September unemployment numbers to manufacture a rosier picture of the economy and boost the president’s chances of reelection.
Obama faked bin Laden’s death: Since no photographs of Osama bin Laden’s corpse were produced, the Al Qaeda leader must still be out there. Fox News’ Steve Doocy and Andrew Napolitano entertained the idea that Operation Neptune Spear was merely a ploy to revive Obama’s sagging approval ratings. Related: Obama was photoshopped into the iconic killing-OBL White House photo.
Obama’s plan to fake an assassination attempt: A false-flag operation would create urban tumult and give Obama the pretext to declare martial law, thus suspending democracy, postponing the 2012 election, and prolonging his stay in office. The theory was flagged by Tenn. State Rep. Kelly Keisling, among others, after circulating online.
Obama’s planning a third term: The dust from the 2012 election had barely cleared when this one popped up.
Obama the brainwashing hypnotist: As a master of neurolinguistic programming, Obama convinced Americans to vote for him via subliminal messages. Related: Rush Limbaugh pondered if hypnosis was the reason that so many Jewish voters were in the bag for Obama. In October, Georgia GOP lawmakers held a briefing on the president’s secret mind-control plot.
Obama’s teleprompter: Obama’s eloquence is a myth! The 44th president is incapable of speaking in public with his teleprompter.
Obama had a ghostwriter for everything: Jack Cashill over at WND had a hot scoop on how Obama’s love letters to his college girlfriend were ghostwritten.
Obama’s anti-Semitic poetry: However, according to the American Thinker, Obama’s ghostwriters did not write his youthful poem “Underground,” which compares Jews to fig-eating underwater apes and echoes Koranic verse.
Obama’s exiled lover: Obama was supposedly fooling around with an attractive young staffer from his 2004 Senate campaign. Michelle Obama had the temptress packed off to the Caribbean before the ’08 campaign.
Obama is gay: Which explains why he joined Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church. No, really. (Via Corsi, of course.)
Obama’s crack cocaine/gay sex/murder orgy cover-up: In 2008, a small-time conman named Larry Sinclair and his kilt-wearing lawyer held a press conference to tell the world of the future president’s murderous, drug-and-sodomy-fueled crimes.
Obama’s campaigns were funded by drug money: During an October conference call organized to oppose pot legalization, a writer from Lyndon LaRouche’s magazine asked about “reports [that both Obama’s] 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns have been financed in part by laundered drug money.”
Obama is the Antichrist:Obviously. Related: If you play his 2008 Democratic nomination acceptance speech backwards, you can hear him instruct listeners to do Satan’s bidding.Steve Brodner
Obama is a lizard overlord: According to codes hidden in Biblical verse, Obama is a reptilian humanoid. This idea has found its way on to some right-wing radio shows, and two Daily Callerreporters recently published a (satirical?) e-book on the topic titled, The Lizard King: The Shocking Inside Account of Obama’s True Intergalactic Ambitions by an Anonymous White House Staffer.
Obama’s adventures on Mars: As a teen, Obama participated in a CIA initiative to teleport to Mars using a top-secret “jump room.” Self-described time travelers William Stillings and Andrew Basiago claim to have met the future POTUS at American space bases on the Red Planet. In early 2012, a spokesman for the National Security Council actually acknowledged these claims, and issued a fairly convincing denial.
House Speaker John Boehner couldn’t hold back when he spotted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the White House lobby last Friday.
It was only a few days before the nation would go over the fiscal cliff, no bipartisan agreement was in sight, and Reid had just publicly accused Boehner of running a “dictatorship” in the House and caring more about holding onto his gavel than striking a deal.
“Go f— yourself,” Boehner sniped as he pointed his finger at Reid, according to multiple sources present.
Reid, a bit startled, replied: “What are you talking about?”
Boehner repeated: “Go f— yourself.”
The harsh exchange just a few steps from the Oval Office — which Boehner later bragged about to fellow Republicans — was only one episode in nearly two months of high-stakes negotiations laced with distrust, miscommunication, false starts and yelling matches as Washington struggled to ward off $500 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts.
The White House and Congress knew of the self-imposed deadline for more than 17 months and they still blew past it, as a president fresh off a strong reelection victory tested — and ultimately broke — the Republican Party’s fidelity to its tax-cuts-only governing philosophy.
It took a late intervention of two Senate veterans — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Vice President Joe Biden — to rescue the negotiations. Their relationship, forged over two decades on Capitol Hill, helped move Congress to a resolution because it wasn’t burdened by the raw political conflicts of the past and the legislative fights still to come.
If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year. A typical middle-class family of four would see its income taxes go up by $2,200. That’s $2,200 out of people’s pockets. That means less money for buying groceries, less money for filling prescriptions, less money for buying diapers. It means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition. And middle-class families just can’t afford that right now.
The President asked the American people to speak loudly by sharing what $2,000 means to them online on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #My2k. Here’s how you can get involved:
Holidays at the White House: Earlier this week, the First Lady previewed the 2012 White House holiday decorations, showcasing this year’s theme: “Joy to All.” The decorations embrace several beloved White House traditions, including 54 decorated trees throughout the residence and a White House gingerbread house. The First Lady explained that this year’s theme “celebrated the many joys of the holiday season: the joy of giving and service to others; the joy of sharing our blessings with one another; and, of course, the joy of welcoming friends and family as guests into our home over these next several weeks.”
Vice President Biden Goes to Costco: On Thursday, the Vice President visited the newly opened Costco in Washington, DC. After picking out a few Christmas presents and other items, he spoke about the importance of extending tax cuts for middle-class families.
A week after losing the election to President Obama, Mitt Romney blamed his overwhelming electoral loss on what he said were big “gifts” that the president had bestowed on loyal Democratic constituencies, including young voters, African-Americans and Hispanics.
In a conference call on Wednesday afternoon with his national finance committee, Mr. Romney said that the president had followed the “old playbook” of wooing specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people,” Mr. Romney explained — with targeted gifts and initiatives.
“In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said.
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift,” he said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”
The president’s health care plan, he added, was also a useful tool in mobilizing African-American and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers — 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics voted to re-elect Mr. Obama.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge,” he said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”
In the 20-minute call —which also featured an appearance by Neil Newhouse, the campaign’s pollster, Spencer Zwick, the national finance chairman, and Mason Fink, the finance director — Mr. Romney was by turns disappointed and pragmatic, expressing his frustration that he’d failed to defeat Mr. Obama on Election Day.
“I’m very sorry that we didn’t win,” he said on the call. “I know that you expected to win, we expected to win, we were disappointed with the result, we hadn’t anticipated it, and it was very close but close doesn’t count in this business.”
He continued: “And so now we’re looking and saying, ‘O.K., what can we do going forward?’ But frankly we’re still so troubled by the past, it’s hard to put together our plans from the future.”
He added half-jokingly that the close-knit group, which excelled in fund-raising but was ultimately unable to propel Mr. Romney into the Oval Office, could even help with “perhaps the selection of a future nominee — which, by the way, will not be me.”
And if anyone is wondering what message Bloomberg, who had for months signaled he would stay out of the presidential race, is sending with this endorsement, click here. The endorsement moves climate change front and center in a way that the mayor, who endorses based on specific issues, clearly wants it to be.
Bloomberg has been critical of Obama in the past, and declined to have Obama come visit New York – he went to New Jersey instead. But as the endorsement makes clear, that was not a diss. And the endorsement of the mayor, a business leader, is one that Obama and Mitt Romney had both sought.
UPDATE: Bloomberg lays out his case here on his political website, in which he argues that Sandy exemplifies the climate change issue:
But we can’t do it alone. We need leadership from the White House – and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year.
Mitt Romney, too, has a history of tackling climate change. As governor of Massachusetts, he signed on to a regional cap-and-trade plan designed to reduce carbon emissions 10 percent below 1990 levels. “The benefits (of that plan) will be long-lasting and enormous – benefits to our health, our economy, our quality of life, our very landscape. These are actions we can and must take now, if we are to have `no regrets’ when we transfer our temporary stewardship of this Earth to the next generation,” he wrote at the time.
He couldn’t have been more right. But since then, he has reversed course, abandoning the very cap-and-trade program he once supported. This issue is too important. We need determined leadership at the national level to move the nation and the world forward.
I believe Mitt Romney is a good and decent man, and he would bring valuable business experience to the Oval Office. He understands that America was built on the promise of equal opportunity, not equal results. In the past he has also taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care. But he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the health-care model he signed into law in Massachusetts.
That last point, about Romney having “reversed course on all of” his past “sensible” positions, is at the heart of Obama’s argument against Romney right now.
Bloomberg has gotten more engaged in electoral politics in the last few weeks, creating a super PAC to fund with his fortune, and which senior adviser and current on-leave deputy mayor Howard Wolfson is running.
Bloomberg is not a swing-state pull. But coupled with the warm words from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose state was similarly battered by the storm, Obama has had two days in which the cable news focus is going to be on the storm and on testimonials about him.