Friday, March 4, 2011

The Incuriosity of a Dead Cat

Perhaps you've heard about this recent interview of John Boehner by David Gregory of Meet the Press. Gregory takes Boehner to task for not combating "misinformation" and "stereotypes" regarding Obama's nativity myth and his religious beliefs. Boehner's answer isn't a complete disaster, but it leaves a lot to be desired. Here's how he should have responded:

"Mr. Gregory, I think your question conceals certain unstated assumptions -- assumptions that I do not accept.

"First, the American people elected me to represent their interests in Congress. They did not elect me to correct "misinformation" and fight "stereotypes" aimed at Obama. That's not part of my job description. Nor is it my obligation. You seem to think that this is one of my duties. Why? And did you hold Nancy Pelosi to the same standard? Did you interview her during her tenure as Speaker of the House and hold her feet to the fire about defending George W. Bush from perceived injustices? Did you consider that burden her sworn duty as an elected official?

"Mr. Obama has the bully pulpit of the presidency at his disposal to defend his words and actions any time he feels the need. Most radio and television networks would give him free airtime for the purpose of addressing the public and setting the record straight. Mr. Obama also has the Democratic Party in his corner. In addition, he has a press secretary whose whole reason for being is the explication and defense of Obama's policies, actions, and words. No, Mr. Obama doesn't need my help.

"Second, I reject the notion that questioning Obama's birth narrative and religious views is the same as stereotyping or spreading misinformation. The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition, describes a stereotype as: a generalization, usually exaggerated or oversimplified and often offensive, that is used to describe or distinguish a group. I don't see how suspicion that Obama is a Muslim, or skepticism about his birth origin is stereotyping. The issues-in-question seem of a singular nature, not stereotypical.

"As for spreading misinformation, the people most guilty of doing so are those who claim that Obama has proven his eligibility for the presidency. At best, this is a statement of ignorance; at worst, a lie. The standard "birther" position is not that Obama was born in Kenya or Indonesia. The prevailing view is that we do not know the facts of Obama's birth. No one knows -- not the American people, not Congress, and not you, Mr. Gregory.

"Let's stay with the birth issue for a moment. The sole documentary evidence provided by Obama of his birth in Hawaii is a Certification of Live Birth, or C.O.L.B., which is a computer-printout document subject to tampering. Worse, at the time of Obama's birth, the state of Hawaii willingly issued such documents to people born outside Hawaii. How in the world can a document issued to people born outside Hawaii be used as proof that a person was born in Hawaii? The answer is that it does not and cannot constitute proof. Only a liar or an imbecile would suggest otherwise. If my home state suddenly begins issuing driving licenses to anyone who can scrounge up twenty-five dollars -- even if he never has stepped foot inside a car -- then I cannot continue using my license as documented proof that I have taken a written driving exam, a road test, and an eyesight evaluation.

"As for Mr. Obama's long-form birth certificate, which details the attending obstetrician's name and the hospital's name, as well as the date, time, and location of the birth -- that elusive document has never seen the light of day. Obama has not released it on the Internet. Congress has never laid eyes on it. This exemplifies a terrible failure, as determining that prospective presidential candidates fit constitutional criteria was an official duty of Congress -- an obligation that Congress shirked. I'm not climbing up on my high horse, as I was a member of Congress, at the time.

"The simple fact is that Obama's birth origin remains a mystery, and it remains a mystery because he refuses to release his full birth certificate. In fact, he has hired a legal team and spent well over a million dollars keeping the document suppressed. I submit that if this behavior doesn't pique your curiosity, then nothing would drag you away from your uncritical acceptance of everything that Obama says and does. Speaking of job descriptions, I've always understood the media's position as that of a watchdog against government excesses, not as a partisan standard bearer for whoever holds the presidential office. I thought that telling Americans the truth was the highest responsibility of the media, not catching flak for Obama. Mr. Gregory, as long as Obama has you on his side, he'll never need me.

"By the way, a CNN poll conducted in August, 2010, revealed that only forty-two percent of Americans believe that Obama "definitely" was born in the United States. Polling data across the board indicate that Americans have questions about Obama's origins -- questions that cross partisan lines.

"Now let's address Mr. Obama's religious beliefs. His biological father was a Muslim; according to Islamic law, this makes Barack Obama a Muslim, as well. His stepfather was a Muslim. Mr. Obama spent part of his formative years living in his stepfather's house in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. He attended an Islamic school. His records of attending that school remain hidden from the American people.

"In the U.S., Obama attended a church for twenty years led by an anti-white, anti-American pastor (Jeremiah Wright) who promoted black-liberation theology. Obama professed ignorance of Wright's beliefs, despite his long attendance of the "church," his personal friendship with the pastor, and Wright's openness regarding his hatred of whites and America. Videos exist depicting Wright preaching his hatred from the pulpit. An interesting sidebar: Wright is a supporter of Louis Farrakhan, a Muslim black separatist.

"Mr. Obama has a history of talking up Islam and coming to the defense of Muslims in public. In a 2009 speech in Cairo Obama said: 'And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.' I submit that this statement is alien to the American presidential tradition. This is not the typical focus of a self-proclaimed Christian who governs a Christian people with a Christian heritage. It emanates from far outside the mainstream.

"Does Obama spend significant time extolling the virtues of Christianity and defending Christians against negative stereotypes? No. He's far too busy perpetuating negative stereotypes against Christians. One example is a comment that he made at a 2008 fundraiser:

'You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.'

"I could go on and on, miring us in the perpetual slime of inconsistencies and peculiarities of Obama's birth narrative and supposed religious views; but I think I've been thorough in making my point: that looking askance at the details of Obama's birth and religion isn't fringe kookery or racism or mere partisanship. Rather, it is a logical and reasonable response to suspicious behavior that belies his claims -- behavior that remains wholly unexplained by Obama, the Democratic Party, or the media."

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