The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Think Right-Wingers Started ‘Birther’ Rumors? Nope: Clinton Supporters!

Posted on | April 29, 2011 | 17 Comments

Clay Waters at Newsbusters explains “the rumor that Obama was not a U.S. citizen was initially spread in April 2008 by a group of Hillary Clinton supporters,” which is something to keep in mind the next time someone claims “raaaaacism” is the besetting sin of Republicans.

The media often promote all manner of myths that lack basis in fact. Thursday evening, I was working on the blog while the TV in my home office was tuned to Fox News. My 12-year-old son Jefferson was doing his homework on the sofa in the office when, on “The O’Reilly Factor,” Republican strategist Margaret Hoover said that Obama is the only president whose citizenship has ever been questioned.

“She’s wrong,” Jefferson said. “What about Chester Arthur?”

“Chester Arthur?” I asked.

“Yeah. They said Chester Arthur was born in Canada.”

“How do you know this?” I asked.

“I looked it up on the Internet. It was on the History Channel.”

So I looked it up myself, and it’s true: During the 1880 presidential campaign, after Arthur was chosen as James Garfield’s running mate, Democrats spread the rumor that Arthur — son of an Irish immigrant — was actually born in Quebec, rather than Vermont. The Associated Press reported last year: “According to historical accounts, Republican bosses wanted [Arthur] to provide proof of his birthplace, but he never did.”

This is just another example of liberal double-standards, where they blame Republicans for something Democrats did. For example, it was Al Gore who first used the Willie Horton case against Mike Dukakis during the 1988 Democrat primary campaign. Yet the infamous Willie Horton ad, which aired only briefly after Dukakis got the nomination, is always cited as evidence of GOP race-baiting. (Ann Coulter addresses the Willie Horton myth, and its subsequent use in media lies, in her books Godless and Guilty.)

The reason this needs to be pointed out is not to engage in any kind of “tu quoque” one-upsmanship against Democrats, but rather because media bias is so ubiquitous that even Republicans like Margaret Hoover, who really ought to know better, help spread these Democrat-friendly myths.

While I have never been interested in the “Birther” allegations, which strike me as politically moot, if turnabout is fair play, then certainly conservatives can play the “just asking questions” games that Democrats used throughout the Bush years. Donald Douglas has video of Pamela Geller asking questions on Fox Business Network.

Is it offensive or “racist” to ask such questions? Who cares? Pamela Geller is not running for president. And as I wrote in addressing the “Birtherdämmerung” at The American Spectator:

Having concluded the Wagnerian saga of Obama’s Hawaiian origins, his opponents are now left to pursue the more mundane mission of convincing a majority of their fellow Americans that the president’s policies are harmful and destructive. That’s neither a conspiracy nor a theory, but a fact.

Let’s let Rush Limbaugh have the last word:

If Obama is so smart, isn’t two and a half years enough time to figure out it isn’t working? . . . Isn’t two and a half years enough time to realize that you’re on the wrong path?

Just askin’ questions . . .


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