As the Obama years unfold, observers who lived through the Clinton era sometimes have the eerie feeling that they have been here before – particularly when directing their gaze toward the far right. The roiling paranoia and hatred that marred American politics when Bill and Hillary Clinton were in the White House has resurfaced in attacks on Barack and Michelle Obama who, like the Clintons, have been maligned repeatedly as communist, subversive, Satanic, and above all, illegitimate.
Speaking of illegitimate, the latest assault on the Obama family is a new movie purporting to show that the President’s father was not Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., but an African-American radical and poet named Frank Marshall Davis. There is no more substance to this claim than that the President was actually born in Kenya and educated in an Islamist madrassa.
Taken seriously, this “neo-birther” fable would tend to erode the original “birther” claims. But logic and proof have no impact on such speculations, whose aim is to profit from prejudice and extremism.
Consider the source – in this instance, an individual named Cliff Kincaid, who runs an old extreme-right outfit called Accuracy in Media and, appropriately, venerates the likes of Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy. The last big plot promoted by Kincaid was the “bipartisan” scheme to portray the “murder” of Clinton White House counsel Vince Foster as a suicide. Among the conspirators fingered by Kincaid in this alleged cover-up was the Republican independent counsel Kenneth Starr, best known for his dogged, intemperate, $50 million effort to remove President Clinton from office.
Now Kincaid is insinuating that Davis was not merely a left-wing mentor who somehow transformed Barack Obama into a Communist – an old theory that first surfaced in 2004 – but Obama’s actual father, too. To Kincaid, the influence of Davis, who died 25 years ago, explains why Obama has pursued policies such as universal health coverage (although AIM has yet to investigate how the Communists duped Romney into that Massachusetts health plan).