Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Obama, Bush and Clinton

The so-called birther movement has gone mainstream -- and that's sad.

You may recall that real estate mogul Donald Trump, now a Republican presidential candidate, has apparently taken the bait and is making noise that President Barack Obama wasn't actually born in this country, this despite evidence to the contrary. (For the record, he was born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu, and the state of Hawaii has provided proof. After I started writing this piece, he produced the long form but still hasn't shut up the critics.)

Let's be honest that the obsession with Obama's birthplace masks the real issue -- that he's in office, which for reasons I don't understand sticks in the craw of some people. Or perhaps I do understand -- he beat them fairly and squarely, so he must be destroyed or denigrated. When are we Christians going to have any discernment and recognize this Obamaphobia as motivated by hate and envy?

We've seen this mess before: With Bill Clinton. Upon his reelection in 1996, his enemies vowed to have him impeached and removed; they got the first all right, but their evidence turned out to so weak that legal experts warned ahead of time that he shouldn't be convicted, let alone have been brought to trial in the first place. According to Jeffrey Toomer's book "A Vast Conspiracy," Clinton's lawyer time and time again refuted the evidence that the House managers put forward and, when the Senate found him "not guilty," they slunk away.

So, what's the difference between the right's treatment of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and the left's treatment of, say, George W. Bush? Like night and day.

What's often overlooked is that, as much as it may have hated him, the left almost never said anything about Bush that couldn't be proven from multiple sources as factually true. Ended up with the office due to a questionable Supreme Court decision? True. Had alcohol problems? True. Went to war in Iraq to settle a score with Saddam Hussein? True ("He tried to kill my dad"). Former Sen. and presidential candidate George McGovern wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post that, for their actions connected with Iraq, Bush and Cheney ought to have been impeached. (And he didn't even feel that way about Richard Nixon, who beat him in the 1972 election.)

But what was said about Clinton? That he was doing shady dealings with Whitewater, a venture in which he and Hillary lost money. That he supposedly hired someone to go through files of President George H.W. Bush. (Overblown.) That he raped a woman in Arkansas. (Not likely.) That he allegedly had a bunch of people who crossed him killed. (Another website, "Liberalism Resurgent," once published a "Bush Body Count" detailing the people that met similarly "suspicious deaths" courtesy of GWB and his father. Now, if you expect me to believe that one ...)

Face it, folks -- we're talking double standard here. Let's end it -- now.

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