House Speaker John Boehner became embroiled in the "birther" controversy on Sunday, saying on NBC's "Meet the Press" that, while he believes President Obama is a citizen, it's not his job to correct those who claim otherwise. Is Boehner's stance a cynical attempt to win over those to his right, or is he merely standing up for the principle of free speech? (Watch Boehner's comments below)
Boehner is hedging to keep the birther fantasy alive: Boehner knows exactly what he's doing by refusing to repudiate the "wild conspiracy theories," says George Zornick in Think Progress. By "hedging," and saying that he takes Obama at his word — instead of blowing the birther claims out of the water — Boehner is giving currency to those who want to "de-legitimize" Obama. It's silly to claim it's not his "job" to tell Americans what to think — politicians, Boehner included, do that every day.
"Boehner, like Cantor, refuses to repudiate birther conspiracy theories"
Don't blame Boehner: The "silly" birther business isn't John Boehner's fault, says Rob Port in Say Anything Blog. If anything, "Meet the Press" host David Gregory should "go to the source," and grill President Obama about why he doesn't end the controversy once and for all by releasing his full birth certificate. Then Gregory could stop wasting Boehner's time, and ask him about something that matters, such as the "epic battle" looming about the deficit.
"David Gregory questions John Boehner — about Obama being a Muslim?"
Where's the leadership? A real leader has to stand up to the "liars" and "lunatics" on his party's "fringe," says William Saletan in Slate. Sen. John McCain did it during his 2008 presidential campaign, "in his clumsy way," and even Fox News' Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly have called the birther conspiracy theories "absurd." By refusing to "call a lie a lie," Boehner and other top Republicans are allowing the smear campaign to continue, instead of doing their real job, which is to lead.
"Be nice to bigots"