One of the most persistent memes on the right since the rise of Barack Obama is the attempt to otherize him, turn him into not just a non-American but an anti-American. That’s the root of Birtherism and all that nonsensical talk about American exceptionalism. And it’s the whole purpose of the relentless claim by Mitt Romney and others that Obama went on an “apology tour” around the world.
As Romney said, once again, at last week’s debate, “The president went about this all wrong. He went around the world and apologized for America.” Steve Benen responds:
If someone makes a bogus claim, he or she is merely wrong. When someone repeats the bogus claim after learning the truth, they’re lying. When someone builds a national campaign message around the obvious falsehood, they’re shamelessly lying…
But this plainly dishonest claim is at the core of Romney’s entire campaign message — it’s in every speech; it’s in every debate; it’s even in the title of his book. And the underlying point of the lie isn’t just over some routine policy dispute — Romney desperately wants Americans to question the president’s love of country. The “apology” claim is a lie, but it’s also an ugly smear.
The fact that Romney repeats this incessantly says a great deal about his character, or in this case, the lack thereof.
Yes, it’s U-G-L-Y ugly. And dumb. The last thing we need as America faces what could be a deep historical shift away from being the undisputed global hegemon is a president unable to see flaws in his own country’s politics or economics or history … in order to correct them. And the reason for Obama’s attempt to acknowledge some faults in America’s recent past was a simple one: the catastrophe of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy legacy. Rebuilding soft power is not unpatriotic. Regurgitating complacency with a hint of McCarthyism is.
Indeed. It should also be noted that this is not limited to Obama. The right tried to do the same thing to Bill Clinton. That’s what all that crap about him protesting against the Vietnam War “on foreign soil” was going to Moscow as a college student was about. The right always attempts this, not just with liberal leaders but with pretty much any prominent Democrat, even relatively conservative ones like Obama and Clinton. And their followers are dumb enough to buy into it.