White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer was right to apologize to Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer after he mistakenly chastised the columnist for claiming that a bust of Winston Churchill that sat in the Bush Oval office had been returned to the British government. Contrary to Pfeiffer's claim that it had never left the White House, that bust was indeed returned and a different bust of Churchill that predated both Obama and George W. Bush still resides in the White House.
But the underlying issue at hand is still unresolved. Krauthammer, in a column about Mitt Romney's gaffe-plagued world tour, was lying. And that lie remains uncorrected. Worse yet, Pfeiffer's apology obscured that lie, allowing another trivial yet damaging falsehood about the Obama presidency to elevate into major media, instead of floundering in the swamps of conservative idiocy.
By claiming that "Obama started his presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office," Krauthammer used the Washington Post to further a conspiracy dating back to the days of Glenn Beck's chalkboard.
Obama, the legend goes, ordered the bust of Churchill removed from the Oval Office because he, like his paternal grandfather, whom he never met, had adopted the political leanings of a Kenyan anti-colonialist Mau Mau rebel. Never mind that there is no evidence Obama's family was part of the Mau Mau uprising.
Forget the fact the bust was loaned to the Bush White House and therefore returned as a matter of standard operating procedure, not a slap in the face to the British.
Never mind that the bust was replaced with one of our greatest Republican presidents, Abraham Lincoln.
The bust rumor traveled from right-wing blogs, to Glenn Beck, to then-prospective Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who engaged in this colloquy with a conservative radio host:
HUCKABEE: I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American. When he gave the bust back to the Brits -
MALZBERG: Of Winston Churchill.
HUCKABEE: The bust of Winston Churchill, a great insult to the British. But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.
While throwing his hat in with the birthers by claiming the president had "grown up in Kenya," which received the most attention and helped torpedo his presidential aspirations, Huckabee's errors begin with the bust.
Conservatives have long refused to debate the president's actual positions, instead relying on a Rorschach test of clues as to his hidden agenda. In the vast majority of cases, the Rosetta stones used to decode Obama's hidden agenda are themselves based on lies.
The tragedy of this most recent exchange between Krauthammer and Pfeiffer is that the Washington Post will see no need to correct what is still an obvious falsehood and others in the media will now accept this farcical rube Goldberg version of history as fact.