Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 23, 2010

STILL TRYING TO MAKE OBAMA 'THE OTHER'.... A couple of weeks ago, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) argued that Americans know less about President Obama than "any other president in history." He went on to say -- just as "an observation," of course -- that "there's not much known" about the president's youth. "We don't know any of the childhood things," Barbour said.

Yesterday, a certain former half-term governor tried to push a similar line on Fox News, and even felt compelled to use the president's middle name.

"Funny, Greta, we are learning more about Christine O'Donnell and her college years and her teenage years and her financial dealings than anybody ever even bothered to ask about Barack Hussein Obama as a candidate and now as our president," Palin said.

Palin added later that it is "fair to dig in somebody's past." She said that if the "lamestream media" did do that digging voters would "find out their associates and beliefs and what formed their beliefs."

It's certainly not the first time Palin has cracked about Obama's past, but we couldn't find any references to her using his middle name.

No, Palin's capacity for conspicuous unintelligence hasn't reached its limit quite yet; thanks for asking.

In case it's not obvious, it's worth appreciating how wildly wrong these arguments really are. Ta-Nehisi Coates noted this morning:

How many presidents have published two memoirs of their lives -- before and after getting into politics? How many presidents have confessed to drug use? As Jamelle Bouie points out, there's even the David Remnick biography (which Barack Obama was interviewed for) laying bare the man's entire life.

I don't really get it....

It's ironic that leading right-wing voices continue to suggest that Obama is some kind of stranger when in reality, we know more about this president than any in modern times -- his life has literally been an open-book.

The larger point, though, remains the same, and it remains ugly. Far-right leaders are obsessed with characterizing the president as some kind of foreign "other" to be mistrusted and seen as illegitimate. It's absurd and offensive, but it remains at the center of conservative thought.

Steve Benen 4:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Comments

You mean there actually is such thing as "conservative thought"?

It seems to have been replaced by the ignorant ravings of stone-cold lunatics who are dumb as rocks.

Posted by: marty on September 23, 2010 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Why are none of the news outlets reporting about the documents just released through the FOIA, showing without a shadow of a doubt (what we all knew) that the Bush/Cheney cabal planned on going into Iraq from the start, the paperwork even discusses what reasons they could give to snow the American people, also Cheney had a map - with the oilfields marked. I wonder how this proof of war crimes makes the parents and families of 4000 dead troops feel.

Posted by: JS on September 23, 2010 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

This from somebody who won't release her college records, refuses to talk about various other elements of her private life, and tries to put some kind of nondisclosure clause in all of her speaking agreements as to fees, etc.

She is more loathsome every day.

Posted by: Barbara on September 23, 2010 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

wow, js, is this online? Can you post a link?

Re Palin: That woman is an idiot.

The fact that Obama's father was Kenyan and that Obama lived in Indonesia is enough to make him "foreign" to many Americans. And that won't change unfortunately.

Re the Obama truth deniers: there are some out there still demanding to "see the birth certificate", saw one sign in DC last week as such. Wanted to ask the person had she not heard that the Republican governor of Hawaii has said that the certificate that has been released is real, that Obama was born in HI? Not that it would have done any good, these people are good at clinging to their tightly held beliefs regardless of the facts.

Posted by: Hannah on September 23, 2010 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Lamestream Media: they are so lame that they don't recognize when they are being disparaged...by a 1/2 term governor and retard's mother. I don't think Plug, or whatever his name is, has a congenital deformity; I think it is hereditary. PALIN Syndrome is the new Down.
This is ugly! I apologize and walk back all of my comments...I didn't mean to harm anyone who might take this personally. I must have misworded by words.

Posted by: st john on September 23, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Palin added later that it is "fair to dig in somebody's past." She said that if the "lamestream media" did do that digging voters would "find out their associates and beliefs and what formed their beliefs."

Does Palin saying this phrase over and over make her sound like she's in high school or more like she's in "Beavis and Butthead"?


Posted by: SteveT on September 23, 2010 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) argued that Americans know less about President Obama than "any other president in history."

On the other hand, what they *think* they know is extensive.

By "Americans," I assume Barbour is referring to the less literate members of the Fox News audience. I'm not sure what he means by "know," since said group "knows" a lot of truly odd and factually unsupported things.

Posted by: Jon on September 23, 2010 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

I can't figure out what is more frightening, the fact that these people are frothing at the mouth to characterize the sitting president as some in human, alien, demonic, Janus-faced beast (when 99.9995% of the facts suggest otherwise) OR the fact that with all the aforementioned frothing at the mouth, no one has managed to kill, maim, rape, torture, or do anything even mildly consistent with the precepts that Obama is a alien, antichrist, etc.

You see what i mean?

If he really is what they so virulently believe he is, certain conclusions follow. Conclusions that force one to take actions that are those which are violent, revolutionary, biblical, and down right anti-social.

At least with violence, people are following the logical conclusions of their illogical axioms. Eventually you come to realize that your axioms were wrong, either because you lose the violent, revolutionary struggle (you acquiesce) or because you win and as your leader strings up you target (i guess Obama) on the stage at you victory celebration to be hung, you can't quite shake the feeling that a antichrist, alien, socialist revolutionary wouldn't be some skinny black dude who cant get out of a knotted rope, who lost the big revolutionary fight, and seems so human and decent up close (as opposed to on the internet and Fox News). Also, you could just kill enough of the non believers that the crusade becomes pointless and it will be years before the internal divisions between your group (the winners) take on the vitriol of current Left / Right divide and a whole new Left/Right divide begins.

But what we have is the frothing of the mouth but no damn follow up. The worst thing so far was some idiot who wanted to kill Obama and start an apocalyptic war (1 guy!!) and some guy who cut the gas line to the brother or a sitting congressman over health care reform. Wtf does this mean?

Are we stuck in this idiotic, elderly psycho-babble phase where people talk and obsess and pull their hair out but as soon as they feel an urge to follow through, they realize its 2:30 and the various medications they took after breakfast are making them sleepy? Are they so devoid or reason that they can feel such powerful hate and bile for someone and something day after day, but never see any of the subsequent conclusions demanded by their hate? If so, God Bless the American (Un)education system, the invention of the television, and the pharmaceutical industry. They were smart enough to only push Adderall on college students. Don't wanna shoot yourself in the foot.

At least with the violent outcome, you know you are dealing with entities that reason (however badly) and have mental machinations that demand further mental machinations. The latter, non violent possibility has the disadvantage of just persisting for God knows how long.

I hope the Tea Party is not a spectacle and disinformation campaign but rather the machinations of communities which still reason, just do so from dead wrong first principles.. At least then we know we will get somewhere after the second civil war.

End of Rant

Posted by: no leaf clover on September 23, 2010 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

My, oh, my. Perhaps Katie Couric should also have asked this dim-witted former half-term governor what books she read rather than what papers she reads. Apparently, she is unaware of the President's writings. Of course, her own tomes are ghostwritten and she probably hasn't even read them, either.
p.s. -- the only "lamestream media" that I am aware of is the one that employs her as a "contributor"

Posted by: Bo on September 23, 2010 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

The reason they get by with the unknown president meme despite the books that he has written and have been written about him is the fact that these people DO NOT READ BOOKS. If it doesn't appear on Fox News on in the pews on Sunday, they basically don't know about it.

Posted by: Joy on September 23, 2010 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Funny, Greta, we are learning more about Christine O'Donnell and her college years and her teenage years and her financial dealings than anybody ever even bothered to ask about Barack Hussein Obama as a candidate and now as our president," Palin said.

what she really means is that obama didn't anything either weird or illegal.


Palin added later that it is "fair to dig in somebody's past." She said that if the "lamestream media" did do that digging voters would "find out their associates and beliefs and what formed their beliefs."

what palin really means is the media is lame when they inform voters about republican candidates' misdeeds, bizarre actions or beliefs, especially hers.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on September 23, 2010 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

It's time for Palin's past to be scrutinized as much as Obama's - and O'Donnell's. And let's throw in an IRS audit for good measure - you just know she's not reporting all her income properly and keeping PAC money and freebies separate from her personal income.

Posted by: MuddyLee on September 23, 2010 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if Obama was truly being open and transparent about his earlier life, why would he hide it in *books*??? Real Americans are waiting for the special on Fox or a lengthy piece on NRO.

Posted by: Jim Strain on September 23, 2010 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

OK I was ready to say something REALLY snarky but then I saw Jim Strain's comment...so there you go. We should pity Palin cuz she evidently didn't learn to READ while she was hunting moose.

Posted by: SYSPROG on September 23, 2010 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Forget any president's childhood.

I'd still like to know what GW Bush was doing during those months (or was it years?) in which he went AWOL "in performance of his reserve duty".

Accent on "duty".

Posted by: JW on September 23, 2010 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

I guess the one-third governor doesn't read "all of it" after all. I wouldn't be surprised if she's confused even by what's scribbled on her own hand.

Posted by: digitusmedius on September 23, 2010 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you forget the Projection Principal. WHOSE background do we know almost nothing about? Palin. WHO has associates, etc., that would be embarrassing? Palin.

It's so easy deconstructing their BS once you realize that they are mostly talking about themselves. Why do you think they fetishize "small, limited government?" Because deep down they'd like nothing better to than to lead a giant authoritarian regime that would tell every citizen when to wake up, where to go, what to do, who to marry, etc.

Easy to crack the code, once you know the secret...

Posted by: Jim Pharo on September 23, 2010 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

As already alluded to above, Jim Strain wins! I was going to say something similar but not 1/10 as well said.

Posted by: rusty chainsaw on September 23, 2010 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Let us see, when was the last time Sarah Palin agreed to be interviewed in depth by someone not paid to sell her to the public? And where exactly was her son Trig born? Wasilla or Anchorage? And what about her claim about traveling on a long plane trip after her membranes broke? And for that matter, what about the mysterious invisible (to her closest colleagues) pregnancy? Who is Trig's real mother?

Posted by: vhh on September 23, 2010 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

We know nothing about Obama - except for his best selling books. Republicans really are shameless!

Posted by: Larraine on September 23, 2010 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't go far as to call it a 'Conservative Thought'. It's mostly Republican thought process.

Posted by: Ravi J on September 23, 2010 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect the reason that none of the whackjobbers know anything about Pres. Obama's past is that it is all in books. In order to learn anything from books, you need to read, a painful experience for most of the regressive wing. Now if someone would make a documentary for TV, then maybe the word would get out, but don't expect anything from that side if it is only in print. Even Saint Sarah's book isn't actually read by her adorers, just used as decoration to hold down the doily on the coffee table.

True story: I used to date a woman of that political persuasion, and once sitting in her living room waiting for her to finish getting ready, I looked for something to read. In the whole house the only reading material was two magazines, Glamour and Seventeen. That's when I knew the relationship had no future.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on September 23, 2010 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

[...] we are learning more about Christine O'Donnell and her college years and her teenage years and her financial dealings than anybody ever even bothered to ask about Barack Hussein Obama [...] -- $arah Palin

Really, $arah? Really, truly? What *do* we know about Miss Pristine, other than a few whacko quotes and clips? Who are her parents and where are they? Does she have any siblings? What's her work record and where can we find it? I appreciate it that you feel a certain affinity with her since both of you took years and years to get a college degree but, really... What do we know about Prissie O'Donnell?

Posted by: exlibra on September 23, 2010 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

We still don't know what happened to George W. Bush when he went AWOL while serving in the Air National Guard in Texas. It is incredible that the story that ended up getting Dan Rather fired was never fully vetted by anyone despite all the publicity. How could everybody be so distracted away from the core issue of the whereabouts and goings-on of GWB during that crucial wartime period, by an unverified piece of evidence? I was convinced that Kevin Drum would eventually return to this subject and get to the bottom of the matter. But that hasn't happened. Yet. Come on, Kevin. Write a book. Win a Pulitzer. Once in a while we need to be reminded of just how bad Bush and Cheney really were.

Posted by: DavidLA on September 24, 2010 at 3:36 AM | PERMALINK

By "we," Palin of course means people who don't read.

Posted by: beejeez on September 24, 2010 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, what do we know about James Buchanan? He was the only "bachelor" president, ifyaknowwhatimean. Was he a Mason? It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

Posted by: Tom Allen on September 24, 2010 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

On the other side of the coin, Steve, Obama didn't spend the last two decades on the equivalent (if there were) of wingnut welfare, which is what O'Donnell did.

The only reason "we know so much" about O'Donnell is that she made her living saying stupid things in front of a TV camera.

Posted by: karen marie on September 24, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin reading...? Don't think so!

Posted by: fillphil on September 24, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

By "we," Palin of course means people who don't read.

Don't, or can't ?

Posted by: thalarctos on September 24, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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