Powerline's John Hinderaker (Time's 2004 blog of the year) appears to be trying to set a smears-per-word record with his latest attack on President Obama. In just 310 words of original text, Hinderaker calls the president “post-American” (twice), accuses Obama of having an “above-America persona,” of “posturing” as “a citizen of the world who has graced America by condescending to be our President and to instruct us,” and says Obama has a “lack of connection to any identifiable Christian tradition” (ignoring, for example, Obama's stated Christianity, daily prayers and frequent Bible-reading, and the fact that he was, you know, baptized.)
Most insidiously, Hinderaker repeatedly suggests that it is reasonable to believe, as many people falsely do, that Obama is Muslim*:
The Pew poll, as reported by the Associated Press, finds confusion about Obama's most basic beliefs:
Americans increasingly are convinced -- incorrectly -- that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a growing number are thoroughly confused about his religion.
I love that “incorrectly.” The AP has evolved into an opinion machine, so it's rare and a little startling to see it stand up so boldly for a “fact.” He's not a Muslim, dammit!
Notice the scare quotes around the word fact? And the mockery of the AP for directly saying Obama is not a Muslim? Hinderaker dropped the subtlety in his conclusion:
We're not sure who he is, exactly, but he certainly isn't one of us. Given the currents that swirl through world events these days, being a Muslim is one interpretation of Obama's exoticism. Those who construe Obama in this way may well be wrong, but it is not hard to understand why they interpret his aloof non-Americanism in this way.
Hateful nonsense like this is far more responsible for the false belief that Obama is Muslim than is Obama's own “exoticism.”
* Earlier this year, I explained why suggestions that Obama is Muslim are fairly labeled “smears” despite the fact that being Muslim is not a bad thing:
These complaints of “unseemly” denials are reminiscent of hand-wringing during the 2008 presidential campaign about whether it was appropriate to refer to the false claims that Barack Obama is Muslim as “smears.” There is nothing wrong with being Muslim -- but of course those were smears. For one thing, they were false. For another, they falsely portrayed Obama as a liar. That's enough to qualify as a “smear” right there. But you also have to consider the intent, and likely effect, of the claims. Those alleging Obama to be Muslim certainly meant to harm him, and it isn't hard to imagine that they did so. Calling that a smear, then seems perfectly reasonable -- indeed, the claims smeared Muslims, too, as they implied that being Muslim is bad.
UPDATE: Slate's David Weigel neatly summarizes Hinderaker's post: “To be American is to agree with John Hinderaker; to disagree is to be a Muslim.”