It was as if someone cracked open a six-pack of Hater-aid this week and shared it with the political world.
Birther talk, 1950s-style Joe McCarthyism, and plain old anti-Obama old sour grapes were front and center this week on the campaign trail, on Capitol Hill and the power corridors of Washington.
Former New Hampshire Republican Gov. John Sununu started the week by going birther on President Barack Obama while touting presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign.
Sununu, complaining about Obama’s attitude towards American business, declared “I wish this president would learn how to be more American,” a comment that conjures the image that somehow the Hawaii-born Obama is somehow different from other U.S. presidents.
Romney’s campaign was mute on the comment. Sununu, who was President George H. W. Bush’s White House Chief of Staff, later apologized – sort of.
“I shouldn’t have said those words. And I apologize for those words,” Sununu said on CNN. “But I don’t apologize for the idea that this president has demonstrated that he does not understand how jobs are created in America.”
The week moved on from challenging the nation’s first black president citizenship to implying that one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s most trusted aides is really a Manchurian Candidate, a sleeper cell waiting to infiltrate the American political system and do it harm.
A group of the conspiratorial crazies in the House of Representatives – Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Tom Rooney of Florida and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia –insinuated that Clinton aide Huma Abedin may be part of a conspiracy by the Muslim Brotherhood to influence U.S. foreign policy to benefit Islamist causes.
Abedin, who is Muslim, is Clinton’s Gal Friday, a trusted aide who keeps Clinton’s schedule and travel wherever the secretary of state goes. Abedin has been a Clinton constant, working with her during her days in the White House, the Senate, and the presidential campaign trail. Abedin is also the wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) who was forced to resign from Congress for lewd online behavior.
The Republican lawmakers sent a letter to inspector generals at the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department asking about the U.S. government’s involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Trying to draw Abedin into the fray was too much for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz). McCain went on the Senate floor Wednesday and went off on the House Republicans who were doing their best Joe McCarthy, red-scare imitations.
“Rarely do I come to the floor of this institution to discuss particular individuals,” McCain said. “But I understand how painful and injurious it is when a person’s character, reputation, and patriotism are attacked without concern for fact or fairness. It is for that reason that I rise today to speak in defense of Huma Abedin.”
“Recently, it has been alleged that Huma, a Muslim American, is part of a nefarious conspiracy to harm the United States by unduly influencing U.S. foreign policy at the Department of State in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist causes,” he added. “These sinister accusations rest solely on a few unspecified and unsubstantiated accusations of members of Huma’s family, none of which have been shown to harm or threaten the United States in any way…These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit. And they need to stop now.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) joined the criticism party late, but echoed McCain’s sentiments Thursday.
“I don’t know Huma,” Boehner told reporters Thursday. “But from everything that I do know of her, she has a sterling character, and I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.”
McCain, no friend of the Obama administration, seemed like an unlikely source to defend Abedin. But McCain traveled overseas with Clinton and Abedin and appreciated how hard she works.
“I know Huma to be an intelligent, upstanding, hard-working, and loyal servant of our country and our government, who has devoted countless days of her life to advancing the ideals of the nation she loves and looking after its most precious interests.”
McCain also has never forgotten the racist and conspiratorial rumors that he had fathered a black child, a falsehood fanned by supporters of then candidate George W. Bush during the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary.
But McCain’s scolding wasn’t enough to stop Tea Party darling Bachmann.
“As a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, my top priority is ensuring the security of our nation,” she said in a statement. “I regret that Mrs. Abedin has become the media focus of this story, because the intention of the letters was to bring greater attention to a legitimate national security risk.”
And the last bottle of Hater-aid was opened by Washington’s Judicial Watch, which cried foul over the taxpayer cost of a President’s Day weekend Aspen ski trip that First Lady Michelle Obama and the Obama daughters took this year.
The bill to transport, house, and feed and provide Secret Service security for three members of the First Family? A deficit-busting $83,182.99! Judicial Watch was aghast that the cost included $45,950.38 to house Secret Service agents in a deluxe condominium. Fox News noted that the trip was the 16th vacation in three years taken by the Obama family.
“The costs of the Obama family ski trip weekend are staggering,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “These high-priced vacations, and the lack of transparency about them, are beginning to seem like an abuse of office.”
No matter where a First Family member goes – whether it’s Martha’s Vineyard, a Ranch in Crawford, Tex., a family compound in Kennebunkport, Me., or a condo in Maui – it costs money to move, house, protect, and feed that family member. No matter who’s in the White House and where they go, it takes a small village to move a First Family member.
But there were few complaints about the cost of moving White House operations to George W Bush’s Texas ranch for a month almost every August for his vacations or the tab of Ronald Reagan’s frequent trips to his California ranch. Reagan spent 436 days of his eight years in office on vacation.