How The American Right Invented Its Own Imaginary ObamaSeptember 26th, 2012 12:00 am Gene Lyons
Despite being the least naturally gifted politician nominated by a major party in a generation, Mitt Romney’s cosmic awkwardness is only a part of his problem. The GOP candidate’s biggest liabilities are a Republican predecessor who can’t be named, and a “Socialist Hottentot” opponent, as Stephen Colbert jokes, who’s largely a product of Rush Limbaugh’s fevered imagination.
Also of Glenn Beck’s and Ann Coulter’s, along with scores of talk radio shouters and the Fox News Channel’s handsomely-coiffed imagineers. When it comes to President Obama, the most influential minds in the Republican Party have gone so far around the bend that there’s no coming back.
MediaMatters.com recently documented Fox’s Megyn Kelly comparing the red stripes on an Obama campaign poster to blood smeared on a wall at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Where a healthy mind would have seen an abstractly-rendered American flag, Kelly found “the smearing of the red stripes is eerily reminiscent of a terrible picture we’ve all seen…which is the bloody handprints outside of our Libyan consulate.”
Fox broadcast the offending images side by side.
Similar crackpot imaginings have become common on the Republican right, aimed at depicting Obama as a subversive, alien presence.
Except that the alien’s leading in the polls, and appears to be pulling away.
Hence growing hysteria. Limbaugh has descended into self-parody. During the GOP convention, he accused the National Weather Service of altering the forecast track of Hurricane Isaac to disrupt the Tampa festivities. Next, he surmised that al Qaeda had betrayed Osama bin Laden to enhance Obama’s re-election chances.
More recently, Limbaugh was heard blaming men’s smaller penises (as measured in an Italian study) on feminist harpies—all Democrats, of course. I suppose it’s possible he was joking. But his description of Obama’s secret plan to confiscate your deer rifle and my shotguns is deadly serious.
Except that it’s purely imaginary too.
Elsewhere in GOP Cloud-Cuckoo-Land, “birthers” have been usurped by an even more preposterous conspiracy theory. No longer is President Obama a Kenya-born usurper. According to a lurid DVD entitled “Dreams from My Real Father,” he’s actually the illegitimate spawn of a black American communist.
Featuring crudely doctored photos of Obama’s mother in a dominatrix costume, the fool thing’s supposedly being mailed to millions of swing-state voters—an apt successor, the blogger Digby points out, to the “Clinton Chronicles,” the late evangelist Jerry Falwell’s smear of Bill Clinton as a drug smuggler and a murderer. I wonder who’s paying for it.