Thursday, April 28, 2011

A reader makes a good point

Yeah, that Obama birth-certificate column this morning touched a nerve... 595 comments and counting, not to mention a few dozen emails and phone calls. The debate in the comments has actually been fairly civil -- a lot of disagreement, and some anger, but more like a boxing match than a back-alley brawl.

One of the emailers, a reader named David, said this:

Out of curiosity were you asleep during the Bush years when it was advanced by “the left” that Bush knew and was somehow involved in 9/11? Did you just miss that a poll in 2007 found that fully 35% of Democrats believed Bush had advance knowledge that 9/11 was going to occur?... I mean, after all, isn’t believing that a sitting President had advance knowledge that the slaughter of thousands of innocent Americans was going to take place just a touch more disgusting than thinking another wasn’t born in the U.S. or is a socialist?

I vaguely remembered some polls along those lines, but asked David to send me a couple of links, which he did. You can find the details here and here.

Now... I'm not sure we're talking apples and apples here. What I remember, from when these came out, is that some people interpreted those questions based on the briefing a month before 9/11 that said Osama bin Laden was determined to attack the United States. Some people might have considered that "advance knowledge" -- not of a specific attack, but that something was about to happen.

One other thing: I don't remember any major voice on the left -- certainly no one who was contemplating a run for president -- pushing that idea. There wasn't a Donald Trump out there in front of the cameras.

On the whole, though, I think David makes a fair point. I should've done that column back then. Politics can make us all crazy from time to time. I hope this current brand of crazy fades fast.


Epizootic said...

Yes, the question of what kind of counter-factual belief this statistic refers to is considerably more ambiguous than the question of whether or not you think the President was born in the US, despite having been vouched for by the State of Hawaii. There's also the issue of numbers -- only 35% of Democrats (the far left side of the party, one assumes) believed that nonsense, whereas an overwhelming majority of Republicans believe the current foolishness. The Democratic group being cited represent 1/9th of the population of the country, as opposed to the delusional Republican group, who represent something like 1/4. Fringes are predictably nuts, but the right fringe is apparently a more broadly deluded group.

David H. Coble said...

From the first link.

"How likely is it that people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East?" the poll asked.

A full 22.6% of Democrats said it was "very likely." Another 28.2% called it "somewhat likely."

I'm failing to see the ambiguity in that Epizootic.

gg said...

I don't think it is comparing apples to apples. Unlike today, any conspiracy theory regarding the government and 9/11 didn't have mainstream Democratic candidates and news networks blatantly encouraging those holding inaccurate beliefs to spread their nonsense.

Also, as was pointed out by a commenter on your first link, the polls didn't name Bush directly. What is going in with the birthers is a direct hate-filled attack against the president and not overall distrust of our government which is what is shown in the 9/11 poll.

David H. Coble said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David H. Coble said...

Pop quiz Ed,

If you turned on the TV what station were you most likely to see covering the birther issue?

David H. Coble said...

So this doesn't get lost in the rationalization and changing of the issue, below is what Tommy said in his column.

"This used to be the sort of thing you'd hear at a commune. But now nearly all of it is coming from the right."

This is a broad based generalization. The nuance you all, and Tommy, are attempting to attribute to it NOW did not exist in the original column. Therefore demanding such nuances from a counter point is not logical. And as both polls clearly so, especially the first one, conspiracy theories are freely embraced by dems, even more so based on the percentage.

I think it's important that we not lose site of how this began in the first place in Tommy's column.

tarhoosier said...

Tommy I disagree with your final comment. This "birther" issue has lasted for years and has ravaged our body politic with networks and commentators and now potential candidates taking this up. If the leaders of both parties had said that this was lunacy from the beginning it would have been settled. The Republicans were too intimidated by their own rabble. The idea that a poll question about some policy, asked years after the event it referred to, is somehow equal to a personal attack on the President, his birth, his parentage, his citizenship, attacks lasting for years,well that is just another form of lunacy.
Let us now see how the avenging right attacks the truth now that it has been flaunted. They will NEVER dismiss and shout down their own.

Michael Procton said...

Epiz: You'd be a lot more credible if you actually had some facts to substantiate your ridiculous assertions about "the majority of Republicans." Then again, facts have been becoming less and less popular these days. And hey, why WOULD you let facts get in the way of your argument?

Archiguy said...

There was never more than a small fringe element of the Democratic Party, never endorsed by any of its leadership or mainstream membership, that believed in 9/11 conspiracy theories. What is not in dispute is that the Bush Administration began planning for an attack on Iraq from their first day in office. All they needed was an excuse. The CIA gave them one, even though all their "evidence" consisted of unverified allegations made by one Iraqi defector codenamed "Curveball". CBS's 60 Minutes program had an interview with this man just last month. Very enlightening.

As a reward for falling on his sword and saving Bush from the embarrassment of having to admit to the American people the justification for an unnecessary war that's killed more than a hundred thousand and cost hundreds of billions was a complete sham, former CIA Director George "Slam-dunk" Tenent was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, making that "honor" the moral equivalent of coming from a gumball machine.

That is far, far different from a MAJORITY of Republicans buying into the nonsense that Obama is a Muslim Socialist Kenyan, and having their leading politicians not only refuse to denounce such tripe but actively endorsing it.

Tommy's right. The crazy almost always comes from the political right. That's where you find the critical mass necessary to give it legs. And boy, has this nonsense had some legs.

Mary Lee said...

Not sure that's an apt comparison. Only the fringiest ever even mentioned that, probably the children of the ones who thought the FBI killed John Kennedy.

There WERE questions about Bush's service record, but he never produced anything and there was certainly none of the hysteria which has come with the birth certificate hoopla.

It has been sad to see a segment of the population demeaning the office of the President with such talk... and even sadder to see the news media give them a platform.

Epizootic said...

Michael Procton: I do have some stats. A national NY Times/CBS News poll released Thursday found that only 33% of Republicans surveyed "said they thought Mr. Obama was born in America." I suppose that this is a "democrat fact" as opposed to the "facts" that Republicans commonly refer to -- meaning anything that Rush, Beck, Hannity, or some random conservative news source on the web tells you. It's fine to ask for a source for the information, but that doesn't seem to be happening much on your side of the aisle.

Archiguy said...

Mary Lee makes a good point about Bush's service records, the originals of which seem to have vanished from the National Archives - gone AWOL if you please. But the "fakes" - good enough to initially fool CBS News but not those intrepid right-wing bloggers who discovered the dastardly forgeries within minutes of CBS releasing them - those got lots of attention.

Except, of course, who could have 1) authored them and what their motives might have been, and 2) How they were substituted for the real ones that ironically said exactly the same thing.

Odd that. Until you recognize that Karl Rove, a White House official, would have had access. And that the distraction of Dan Rather's being duped completely diverted attention from the very real question of W's questionable and unverifiable whereabouts during his "service" in the Texas Air National Guard (NG units didn't go to war in those days).

Now, if it's a conspiracy theory you're after, that one at least has foundations grounded in reality. Even then, Democrats seemed more concerned with playing defense than pursuing the real issue.

Epizootic said...

PS -- that poll was released a week ago, not today. One hopes that the numbers have fallen just a bit.

heavymetal said...

Bravo, Tommy, for the follow up!

To Epizoodic? Post your links, it helps everyone reading to find your reference.

To tarhoosier? The whole "troother" controversy has been around longer than the "birther" issue.

To all? The birther issue bothers me just as much, but in a different way.

Why didn't Obama just release it a long time ago... because now, he looks like he was bowing to Trump, in a way.

I fault Obama's advisors for placing him in this position where negative interpretations of his motives and actions detract from his office.

McCray's Economics Discourse said...

David may have a point but the difference is that the media did not exploit the Bush conspiracy by presenting it as inssue that was worthy of further investigation and 24/7 reporting.

heavymetal said...

I disagree to the extent that the ultra left-wing did exploit the 9/11 "troother" scenario-- it's just that it didn't sprout legs and run like the "birther" claim did.

I partially fault the media because of their coverage of Trump's "birther" assertions; I believe the media hoped that opinion would ultimately brand Trump a crackpot.

I also believe that particular move backfired and now the President is paying the preice for it.

Anonymous said...

Adobe expert exposes the Obama birth certificate as a FRAUD !!!

Anonymous said...

I have documentation that President Obama is made of Jello, and that Donald Trump is made of marzipam. Please contribute to my party-ing.

Anonymous said...

Propagandist media are successful, as one should assume they would be. Why would we think that anyone who watches Fox news exclusively would have the sagacity to to consult other sources of "information". Elders, who were introduced to news by reputable broadcasters, were raised in an era wherein yada-yada-yada.......Youngsters have not been learnt how to think...yada-yada..(sic)

Anonymous said...

What were the results of the same 2006 polls for Republican and Independent respondents?

Anonymous said...

Ali proves he was the greatest.