Proving again that in the age of Obama, some conservative pundits just can't resist giving comfort to fringy conspiracy theorists, the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan over the weekend blamed the president for stoking the nutty fires that burn around the story of Osama bin Laden's death. Rather than condemning the kind of connect-the-invisible-dots nonsense that now consumes the far-right fever swamp, Noonan opts to blame the victim, Obama.
Coming in the wake of recent birther debacle, it seems Obama's partisan press critics didn't learn a thing about the dangers of hyping a deluded conspiracy theory. (Paging Donald Trump….) More distressing in terms of Noonan's column is how she casually tries to mainstream the conspiracy madness that's infected the conservative movement by suggesting everybody does it.
They don't. But Obama haters sure do.
However, and with our president there is always a however, he has spent almost every moment since his Sunday night speech displaying both a tin ear and a chronic tendency to misunderstand his own country. His refusal to release more evidence that Osama is dead is allowing a great story to dissolve into a mystery. He is letting a triumph turn into a conspiracy theory.
Wringing her hands, Noonan's supposedly concerned that Obama dented his counterterrorism victory by failing to release detailed information about the raid. (Where's the DNA evidence?!) But according to the recent Gallup poll, nine out of ten Americans approved of bin Laden's killing and more than 70 percent think Obama should get some of the credit. (So much for his victory for being "tarnished.")
And in terms of the bin Laden corpse photos that Noonan's so upset haven't been released, an NBC poll indicates two-thirds of Americans are fine with the president's decision to not to make them public. So again, it's Noonan who's out of touch and who doesn't understand the country, not Obama. It's Noonan who's flashing a tin ear by robotically assuming that so many decisions Obama makes are the wrong ones.
Meanwhile, note how Noonan claims the bin Laden killing has dissolved into a "mystery." Really? Who exactly considers it to be a "mystery"? And that's what's so distasteful about Noonan's blame-the-victim routine in singling out Obama for faming the conspiracy flames. It's wildly irresponsible how Noonan tries to subtly mainstream the right-wing junk that now passes as debate. It's distasteful how Noonan suggests it's now normal to rally around dopey conspiracy theories:
People believe nothing. They think everything is spin and lies. The minute a government says A is true, half the people on Earth know A is a lie. And when people believe nothing, as we know, they will believe anything. We faked the moon landing, there was a second gunman in Dallas, the World Trade Center was blown up in a U.S.-Zionist conspiracy, Hitler grew old in Argentina.
There will always be people who believe conspiracy theories, and with the Internet there will be more. They are impervious to evidence. But people who care about the truth need to be armed with evidence to refute them.
Um, no. It's not "people" who believe everything is a lie. It's not "people" who refuse to accept anything the government tells them when a Democrat's in the White House. And it's not "people" who are impervious to evidence.
Those are the Obama haters.
The skeptics Noonan describes are the ones camped out in the right-wing fever swamp and the ones whose common sense has been so clouded by hatred for the president that they're forced to cling to any illogical claim about him. That's who Noonan's describing, but she pretends that's how mainstream America thinks today. (i.e. The darn Internet!).
But it's not. The American masses have never wallowed in that kind of nonsense. And there's no indication that they're buying into the so-called deather tale that bin Laden's still alive and maybe Obama lied to the nation last week as part of a massive cover-up.
Trust me, there's nothing wrong with healthy skepticism about what the government tells you. Nonetheless, it's a bit comical to watch proudly patriotic pundits like Noonan and others on the GOP side suddenly play nice with conspiracy theorists who, with a Democratic president, suddenly insist you can't trust the government, you can't trust the White House, you can't trust the Pentagon, and you can't even trust Navy SEALs. (They're all in on it??)
Did the recent birther charade teach the conservative media nothing? Didn't the far-right opinion press learn a painful lesson from allowing the birther story to consume so much of its landscape, only to be utterly debunked by the White House, which effectively pantsed them all, by releasing the president's long-form birth certificate?
The lessons not learned: You don't sympathize with the nut jobs. You call them out. And you certainly don't blame the president for the fact that his haters are hating again.
I mean, was it former president Bush's fault that he didn't release enough "evidence" to disprove the crazies who were convinced he was in on the planning of the 9/11 attack? Of course it wasn't his fault. So why does Noonan shift the burden of proof onto Obama? Why does Noonan concoct a can't-win rule for Obama: Release more "evidence" so conspiracy theoristswho don't pay attention to "evidence" will be satisfied.
Yeah, that's a wise use of the president's time and prestige.
Condemn the kooks Peggy, don't empower them by suggesting it's the president's fault for not meeting their delusional threshold of "proof" about bin Laden's killing. Don't suggest they have a right to peddle obvious lies.
And don't blame the president for the rapid spread of Obama Derangement Syndrome.