It’s rare to see a better encapsulation of the right wing’s problem with modern life than the latest cover of the National Review, as Rich Lowry apparently feels it necessary to defend the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln against the deranged kooks who have taken over his own movement.
Debunking a Charles Krauthammer Falsehood - Update: Romney Repeats Churchill Falsehood, ABC News Doesn’t Catch It
[Editor’s note: see the updates below for the rest of the story…]
I used to respect Charles Krauthammer because even though he is partisan he wouldn’t twist objective facts. It appears that’s no longer true, as another right wing “news analyst” sells his soul to the wingnut fringe with this ridiculous outrage of the day.
Perhaps Charles is trying to distract from the overseas conflagration that is Mitt’s trip to demonstrate his foreign diplomacy skills. Or perhaps it’s just an honest mistake combined with the laziness of believing something is true because you really wish it to be true; a tendency that professional con men count on from the gullible. Regardless and irrespective of those speculations, a journalist with integrity would print a full retraction now that the facts are known. Will Charles Krauthammer do so?
Also note that for the record I’m well pleased that our President put President Lincoln back into a place of prominence; one where his bust fits better than that of a foreign leader.
Lately, there’s been a rumor swirling around about the current location of the bust of Winston Churchill. Some have claimed that President Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy.
Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column. He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”
This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.
News outlets have debunked this claim time and again. First, back in 2010 the National Journal reported that “the Churchill bust was relocated to a prominent spot in the residence to make room for Abraham Lincoln, a figure from whom the first African-American occupant of the Oval Office might well draw inspiration in difficult times.” And just in case anyone forgot, just last year the AP reported that President Obama “replaced the Oval Office fixture with a bust of one of his American heroes, President Abraham Lincoln, and moved the Churchill bust to the White House residence.”
In case these news reports are not enough for Mr. Krauthammer and others, here’s a picture of the President showing off the Churchill bust to Prime Minister Cameron when he visited the White House residence in 2010.
Speaking in Britain, Mitt Romney also got this totally wrong — and unfortunately, ABC News repeated the falsehood without catching it: Romney ‘Looking Forward’ to Returning Churchill Bust to White House.
LONDON – Mitt Romney, speaking to a group of more than 200 supporters in hotel in the heart of London this evening, said he is “looking forward” to returning the bust of Winston Churchill to the White House after it was sent back to Great Britain by President Obama.
The GOP candidate, who suffered a brutal day of press after he suggested that he wasn’t sure the London Olympics would go off without a hitch, spoke highly of the British monuments — singling out the Churchill statue — that he said he got a firsthand look at while stuck in traffic — likely caused by the Olympic Games.
“You live here, you see the sites day in and day out, but for me as I drive past the sculpture of Winston Churchill and see that great sculpture next to Westminster Abbey and Parliament and with him larger than life, enormous heft of that sculpture suggesting the scale of the the grandeur and the greatness of the man, it tugs at the heart strings to remember the kind fo example that was led by Winston Churchill,” said Romney, speaking in a ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on the edge of Hyde Park.
“And I’m looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again,” Romney said, evoking applause from the group that helped the candidate raise more than $2 million for his campaign.
Romney’s remarks about the Churchill bust came the day after an article in a British newspaper blindly quoted advisors — who Romney said he did not know — who asserted that the candidate really wants the statue back in Washington D.C.
President Obama returned the bust in 2009, drawing ire from the British press who said that the move had made some leaders “nervous” about what the gesture meant for U.S.-U.K. relations. The bust had a home in the Oval Office during President George W. Bush’s administration.
The desire to have Churchill’s bust returned to the White House was a sentiment expressed by one of two Romney advisors who spoke anonymously to the British newspaper the Telegraph. The story has since ignited a firestorm of criticism of the candidate, who had vowed that his campaign would not speak ill of the Obama administration while on foreign soil.
Romney, who has distanced himself from the unnamed advisors who also suggested in the story that the White House doesn’t appreciate the “Anglo-Saxon” relationship between the U.K and the United States, saying he does not know who these advisers are, appeared to echo their assertion that he’d like the Churchill statue to return Washington.
The advisers told the Telegraph that Romney would “seek to reinstate the Churchill bust” and one told the paper that Romney “viewed the move as ‘symbolically important.’”
And note that Romney is echoing a point made by those unnamed advisers who caused a stir this week.
Here’s Fox News’s Monica Crowley repeating the talking point again:
We can’t wait either—-> Romney ‘Looking Forward to the Bust of Winston Churchill Being in the Oval Office Again’ shar.es/tLNP1
— Monica Crowley (@MonicaCrowley) July 26, 2012
Jake Tapper gets to the bottom of it: Is the Churchill Bust Controversy a Total Bust?
White House curator William Allman was quoted in a January 2010 story at CBSNews.com seeming to confirm the (incorrect) information. “Some Britons took offense when Winston Churchill’s bust was replaced with King’s,” the story reads. “But the decision to return the Churchill bust to the British – it had been presented by former Prime Minister Tony Blair to Bush on loan – had been made before Obama even arrived. ‘It was already scheduled to go back,’ Allman said.” So what gives?
Like a plot twist in a sitcom, IT TURNS OUT THERE ARE TWO CHURCHILL BUSTS!!!
The one in the White House Residence was a gift to the White House from the British Embassy during the Nixon administration.
The other one was loaned to President George W. Bush by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Says James Barbour, Press Secretary and Head of Communications for the British Embassy, “The bust of Sir Winston Churchill, by Sir Jacob Epstein, was lent to the George W Bush administration from the UK’s Government Art Collection, for the duration of the Presidency. When that administration came to an end so did the loan; the bust now resides in the British Ambassador’s Residence in Washington DC. The White House collection has its own Epstein bust of Churchill, which President Obama showed to Prime Minister Cameron when he visited the White House in March”
That other Churchill bust dates back to the Nixon administration, it turns out.
And this, of course, makes Mitt Romney’s faux outrage over Obama sending back one of two busts, when it was already scheduled to be returned, even more ridiculous.
Newt Gingrich is preparing to whip out his new, improved, whiter than white ‘very visionary’ Contract with America next week in Iowa!
Better stand back. Nobody knows how big this contract’s gonna get. Not even Abe Lincoln.
“It will be 10 times deeper and more comprehensive than 1994,” he told an audience of about 40 people in Council Bluffs.
The original contract Gingrich helped craft 17 years ago “didn’t fundamentally change the trajectory of America,” he said.
The new ideas Gingrich will pitch during his big speech in Des Moines next Thursday will be “very visionary,” he said. “They’re very big and they’re exactly what Abraham Lincoln would have campaigned on.”
Here we go again. Don’t these people ever get tired of humiliating themselves?
Practically the entire right wing blogosphere went into vapor-lock this morning, shrieking in unison at the evil librul PBS for “editing” the transcript of the President’s joint session speech on jobs, to cover up his “gaffe” that Abraham Lincoln was a founder of the Republican Party.
American Stinker leads the pack with this typically vitriolic, hate-filled post (but it’s currently on at least a dozen other blogs too): Blog: PBS alters transcript to hide Obama gaffe.
At one point Mr. Obama made a major gaffe; he identified Abraham Lincoln as the founder of the Republican Party.
Lincoln did not join the Republicans until 1856, over two years after the party was founded. The first Republican convention was held in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854.
Such a gaffe would have brought huge amounts of ridicule and derision on George W. Bush, but in the case of Obama the media yawned.
Actually, they did more than yawn; government-funded PBS has altered the transcript of the President’s speech, removing the offending comment.
So are they right? Did PBS edit the transcript?
Gasp! Yes, they did! Full Text: Obama Vows to Spur Job Creation, ‘Jolt’ Economy in Speech to Congress.
Why in the world would they do something like this? Why, I ask you?
EDITOR’S NOTE: The original transcript provided on this page, as was noted, reflected the president’s remarks as prepared for delivery and released by the White House. This transcript has been updated to reflect the remarks as delivered and released by the White House.
The multi-level idiocy of this latest wingnut freakout is impressive. Not only did PBS have a perfectly good reason for changing their transcript, the wingnuts are completely wrong about Lincoln, too.
For example, let’s see what the Republican National Committee website has to say about Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln | RNC: Republican National Committee | GOP
Abraham Lincoln helped establish the Republican Party with a speech denouncing an 1854 law, written by a Democrat Senator, that allowed slavery to expand into the western territories. Two years later, he co-founded the Illinois GOP. Lincoln was runner-up for the 1856 Republican vice presidential nomination and then became a Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate.
Oops! Wingnuts with egg on their faces … again. I guess they must enjoy the embarrassment, because they just keep falling for this crap, over and over and over.
Just to rub it in some more, LGF reader Gus 802 posted this great comment with some quotes from conservatives on this issue:
I am a Lincoln/Kemp Republican. It’s 150 years ago in Chicago this year that Abraham Lincoln, the founder of the Republican Party, accepted the Republican nomination for President of the United States. — Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN)
Immigration was a core belief of a founder of the Republican party, Abraham Lincoln. — Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R)
Though Lincoln was the founder of the Republican Party, to liberals and advocates of civil rights Lincoln was in that pantheon along with FDR as one of the heroes of liberalism and American democracy. — James Pierson on National Review
George W. Bush is not a Goldwater Republican — he’s a Lincoln Republican. Like the founder of the Republican party, Bush doesn’t mind spending money on his priorities, and he doesn’t mind doing some of this spending with borrowed money. — Jerry Bowyer, National Review
It is a pleasure for me to address you upon the day when this club and our countrymen of all faiths throughout the land are paying tribute to the memory of Abraham Lincoln. We tonight also pay tribute to him as founder of the Republican Party and the inspirer of its ideals. — President Herbert Hoover (R)
It was — it was, in fact, the founder of our party, Abraham Lincoln, who reminded us that a government that can do everything for us is the government that can take everything from us. — Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) 2008 RNC Speech
Tommy Christopher found the links to all the quotes above: Conservatives Accuse PBS Of ‘Altering’ Jobs Speech Transcript To Cover Up President Obama Gaffe.
(Hat tip: Boing Boing.)
Sergey Romanov, a contributor to a blog called “Holocaust Controversies” that normally focuses on debunking Holocaust deniers, has a scathing post about white supremacist blogger Robert Stacy McCain (who also writes for Pajamas Media and Hot Air’s Green Room), with examples from the messages posted by McCain on Usenet: Meet Robert Stacy McCain, a neo-Confederate wacko extraordinaire.
There are quite a few of these Usenet posts; you should read the whole thing for the full steamy flavor of Robert Stacy McCain’s outrageous bigotry. I’ll just quote a couple that are especially juicy.
First we have a deranged and bilious rant labeling President Abraham Lincoln a “war criminal:”
WANTED for WAR CRIMES: Abraham Lincoln
* Violation of the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
* Unconstitutional suppression of civil liberties in Ohio and other states
* Suspension of the writ of habeas corpus
* Disbanding the legislature of Maryland
* Aggression against the Southern Confederacy
So, then, if Lincoln was not an advocate of racial equality, and if hatred of black people was at the core of the “free soil” movement, why do Americans today continue to associate the Confederacy and the South with racism?
[Hmmm. Why would that be? ~SR]
Certainly, chattel slavery was no ideal economic or social system. [You think?! ~SR] Even many slaveholders such as Thomas Jefferson recognized that by stigmatizing labor, slavery encouraged sloth in both master and slave. Though most 19th-century white Americans, North and South, subscribed to racial theories that consigned blacks to an inferior status as “hewers of wood and drawers of water,” it is incorrect to say that slavery was a system based upon racial hatred. Indeed, both white and black Southerners of the era have left us testimony to the cordial and affectionate relations which generally existed between the races in the Old South.
None of this is to excuse or apologize for slavery, but merely to point out that it is wrong to confuse antebellum slavery with modern racism.
I don’t know why Robert Stacy McCain thought it was necessary to note that he wasn’t “apologizing for slavery.” What? You never considered Abe Lincoln a war criminal?
Here, have another helping of Stacy McCain-style nuance:
But to reiterate, when men defend what they view to be their own best interests, they are only being human. While I do not defend slavery, I at least will defend the 1830-1865 *defense* of slavery as being essentially no worse than any number of ordinary human follies (voting GOP, for instance) which persist to this day.
See? He’s not apologizing for slavery — he’s apologizing for the people who do apologize for slavery! Not the same thing at all. Why, it’s just like voting for a Republican.
Thanks to Sergey for this sadly accurate comment too:
Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has been doing a thankless job of bringing to light McCain’s racist past. The conservative blogosphere basically excommunicated Johnson over this issue.
Of course, most of right-wing bloggers preferred not to deal with the facts Johnson and other bloggers and researchers laid out.
UPDATE at 10/19/09 6:04:53 pm:
Here’s Robert Stacy McCain in a humorous mood, dreaming up some hilarious Bumper Stickers:
May 21 1996, 12:00 am
I’d rather be wenching in the quarters
Have you whipped your slaves today?
Another world-famous person born on this date 200 years ago: Abraham Lincoln. Powerline has an excellent series of posts paying tribute to (arguably) America’s greatest president: Lincoln at 200.