Republicans' Stubborn, Wrongheaded Refusal to Denounce Birthers

 A few weeks ago, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on "Meet the Press," and was asked by host David Gregory whether he's prepared to denounce those who question President Obama's faith and citizenship. Cantor squirmed for a while, but never got around to the denunciation.

Yesterday, Gregory raised the same point with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and showed him a clip of a Fox News focus group this week, filled with Iowa Republicans who are convinced the president is a secret Muslim. "As the speaker of the House, as a leader, do you not think it's your responsibility to stand up to that kind of ignorance?" the host asked.

"David, it's not my job to tell the American people what to think," the Speaker replied. Boehner added that he accepts the state of Hawaii's records on the president's birthplace, and accepts Obama's faith "at this word," but said three times that it's not his "job" to stand up to ignorance.

"[T]he American people have the right to think what they want to think," Boehner added. "I can't -- it's not my job to tell them."

I realize the House Speaker is not a political fact-checker or myth-buster. When Boehner says, over and over again, that it's not his job to telling Americans "what to think," that's not necessarily wrong.

But consider a hypothetical. Imagine if there was a poll that showed a significant chunk of the population believes that the House Republican caucus, in its spare time, sells heroin to children. It's not true, and there's no evidence to support it, but for the sake of this hypothetical, let's say a whole lot of people believe it anyway.

If asked about poll results like these, I suspect Boehner would say something along the lines of, "That's ridiculous, and anyone who thinks that way believes in pure nonsense."

I doubt very much the Speaker would reply, "The American people have the right to think what they want to think. It's not my job to tell them."

Insane beliefs in garbage deserve to be called out as such. It's really not that complicated.

 

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Washington Monthly / By Steve Benen

Posted at February 14, 2011, 3:58am

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