Today President Obama gave a speech urging America’s schoolchildren to do their homework and stay in school.
Naturally, conservatives have been extremely alarmed about the address, because obviously the president is looking to create a vast army of adorable little zombies that will help him destroy America faster.
All last week, conservative bloggers and pundits gleefully accused the centrist president of plotting to force radical politics on America’s impressionable youth, after Florida’s Republican chairman Jim Greer said Obama’s address would "indoctrinate" children and spread "socialist ideology."
The week of right-wing echo chamber freak-outs led to protests by conservative parents, which put school districts throughout the country in the unenviable position of having to deal with the "controversy": Some decided not to air the president’s address; others required parental permission.
So, thanks to the right-wing saviors of America’s youth, a bunch of kids have been shielded from the president’s dangerous message that learning things is good.
Could this be the stupidest, most irrational way conservatives have tried to tear down Obama? Is it even possible to answer that question?
We’ve assembled the most absurd, logic-defying right-wing attacks on the president. Some you’ve undoubtedly encountered before; all are incessantly blared by conservative pundits and shock jocks, while many are cynically embraced by GOP lawmakers.
Assembled together, they illustrate the absurd extremes to which right-wingers are trying to drive the public discourse in their efforts to thwart essential reforms in health care, energy policy and the economy.
The Advent of Socialism/Fascism
Most historians would agree that fascism and socialism represent vastly different ideologies and historical phenomena. But not the historians at Fox News! Since Obama took office, right-wing pundits have lobbed these smears interchangeably, not quite clarifying whether Obama is leading the proletariat to a glorious Utopian Future or trying to bring the master race to world dominion.
Obama’s Nefarious Plan for the Nation’s Genitals
When news leaked of a CDC report recommending that boys be circumcised as a preventative measure against HIV infection, right-winger conspiracy theorists decided to fret that the federal government would mandate circumcision. Since Patrick Henry isn’t around, it was up to Rush Limbaugh to sound the rallying cry against tyranny: "Leave our penises alone, too, Obama!" roared Limbaugh in a July 24 radio broadcast.
The next day, while discussing an unrelated dispute with Jay-Z, the talk show host said, "I would remind the rapper Jay Z; Mr. Z, it is President Obama who wants mandated circumcision. We had that yesterday. That means if we need to save our penises from anybody, it’s Obama."
Needless to say, Obama had nothing to do with the CDC report, and doesn’t appear to have ever publicly uttered the word "circumcision." Nor did he recommend the CDC promote circumcision.
None of this, of course, discouraged Limbaugh from running with the best metaphor for white male anxiety in the age of Obama, ever.
Remember when the president invented a time machine and traveled back in time to plant his own birth announcement in a Hawaiian newspaper and forge a certificate of birth proving he was born in the States, all to hide the fact that he’s a foreigner from a country filled with scary black people?
That, of course, appears to be the only explanation for why the birther nonsense continues to gurgle up online (even though certain idiots, who for mysterious reasons still have shows on CNN, have finally stopped giving this nonsense the patina of mainstream credibility).
Recently, some birthers on Free Republic argued that the only way to determine the president’s birthplace for sure was by checking if he is circumcised. (It would seem that there needs to be a subcategory on this list for these patriots’ obsession with the president’s penis.)
In America in 2009 — a time and place where most people have access to a high school education and can read — a rumor emerged that the overhaul of our terrible health care system would allow the government to put old people to death. This rumor was stoked by the crazy people on Fox News and talk radio, then embraced and propagated by Republican lawmakers and others who are supposed to be sane adults.
"A lot of people are going to die. This program of government option that‘s being touted as being this panacea, the savior of allowing people to have quality health care at an affordable price, is going to kill people." said Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga, said.
Then there was almost-a-heartbeat-away-from-the-presidency Sarah Palin, who contributed to the discussion by saying that under a reformed health system, the government would have killed her child Trig because he has Down syndrome. (Palin took back the comments after much outcry, but that didn’t stop the vocal minority of town hall protesters from screaming about Obama killing old and disabled people all summer).
The End of the Internet?
Cass Sunstein, currently awaiting confirmation to head the Office of Information an Regulatory Affairs, is apparently doing Obama’s dirty work on this one. Someone enterprising at crackpot site World Net Daily cherrypicked from a long-ago Sunstein statement, making it sound like he wants government regulation forcing blogs to link to opposing viewpoints.
In fact, as Julian Sanchez writes, in the statement in question Sunstein floated the theory as "food for thought." And then he noted the free-speech issues involved. And then he called the idea stupid and unconstitutional.
Obama has "czars" in his administration. The word "czar" is Russian, which of course is scary ("Too Russian!" said former Oklahoma Rep. Ernest Istook. "Why not call somebody the Big Boss?").
One of Glenn Beck’s favorite things to do is list off and rail against the czars in Obama’s administration. Neil Cavuto, Mike Huckabee and others on Fox and like-minded media are also pretty excited about it and have made lots of puns (czar wars!) and wild accusations about Obama’s alleged czar shadow army.
Somehow, their balanced take on this threatening phenomena fails to mention that George W. Bush was pretty fond of czars himself, overseeing the creation of a "food-safety czar," a "cybersecurity czar," a "regulatory czar," an "AIDS czar," a "manufacturing czar," an "intelligence czar," a "bird-flu czar" and a "Katrina czar," according to Steve Benen in Washington Monthly.
Our Half-White President Has a Problem With White People?
One would think Obama is pretty OK with white people, since he is half white and was raised by a white mother and grandparents. Beck would disagree.
In July, Beck bizarrely accused the president of having a deep-seated hatred for white people and "white culture," an attention-grubbing overreach that has led to a successful boycott campaign that has cost Beck 57 advertisers.
Beck’s offensive statement was only the most extreme iteration of a conservative strategy to sneakily accuse the president of undermining the interests of whites. One other example is the absurd claim that the president is trying to trick white Americans into paying reparations through health reform.
A few months ago, the White House made a valiant attempt to help steer the health care debate toward existing things like policy, rather than totally made up crap like death panels. They did so by setting up a Web site where people could submit questions about the wild conspiracy theories circulating about reform.
Naturally, the fringe decided that Obama was asking people to report on their neighbors. And, of course, Republican lawmakers irresponsibly and shamelessly joined the fray, with Texas Sen. John Cornyn, for example, accusing Obama of compiling an "enemies list" and demanding the site be shut down.
An Expansion of AmeriCorps. The Horror!
And finally, what does Obama plan to do with all those kids he brainwashes during his speech today?
Wait, with diabolical patience, until their teeny little arms grow strong enough to wield heavy weaponry so he can draft them into his massive domestic paramilitary force. At least that appears to be a fear held by Beck, who has said Obama’s "civilian national security force" is like Hitler’s SS, or something Saddam Hussein would do.
Michelle Bachmann warned of a massive effort to herd kids into re-education camps. What were they talking about? The expansion of AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps.
And there you have it: Public discourse in 2009.
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