The Prime Buzz flags a horrifying, though not exactly surprising, poll:
A new national Louis Harris poll finds that a majority of Republicans believe that President Obama is a Muslim, while 45 percent agree with the so-called "Birthers" that the president was "not born in the United States."
The poll of 2,230 Americans, taken during last weekend's health care showdown in the House of Representatives, shows how successful Obama's opponents have been in demonizing the 44th president...
Another eye-opening finding: 38 percent of Republicans, and 20 percent of Americans overall, agree that Obama is "doing many things Hitler did."
The full poll data is expected to be released tomorrow, but John Avlon of The Daily Beast has more of the topline numbers:
Obama Derangement Syndrome—pathological hatred of the president posing as patriotism—has infected the Republican Party. Here's new data to prove it:
- 67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist.
- 57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim
- 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was "not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president"
- 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is "doing many of the things that Hitler did"
- Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama "may be the Antichrist."
These numbers all come from a brand-new Louis Harris poll, inspired in part by my new book Wingnuts. It demonstrates the cost of the campaign of fear and hate that has been pumped up in the service of hyper-partisanship over the past 15 months. We are playing with dynamite by demonizing our president and dividing the United States in the process. What might be good for ratings is bad for the country.
I wish I could say this is surprising, but spreading outrageous rumors and stoking fear about Obama has been a key part of top Republicans' strategy for months. Here are just a few examples from top Missouri leaders:
- Roy Blunt said last year that the birthers are asking "legitimate" questions and believes that mainstream media reporters lack the capacity to report on the issue in a "legitimate" way. Also recall that it took more than 24 hours last summer to get a straight answer about whether Blunt believed Obama was an American citizen.
- In just the past few days, Lt. Governor Peter Kinder has declared Sunday's health care vote "worth of Hugo Chavez," and hinted that our current state of affairs is similar to the tyranny that sparked the American Revolution.
- Two state representatives -- Reps. Cynthia Davis and Tim Jones -- sued Obama to prove that he's a illegal alien from Kenya last year. Rep. Ed Emery, Sen. Jim Lembke, Rep. Casey Guernsey, Rep. Mike McGhee, Rep. Robert Cooper and others are also flirted with birtherism.
- Ed Martin's campaign is virtually indistinguishable from the extreme St. Louis Tea Party.
- Todd Akin is still in office.
- Former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent and Sen. Jim Lembke (R-Lemay) and Sen. Jane Cunningham share the stage at a St. Louis conference with lunatics like Joseph Farah, purveyor of birther garbage at World Net Daily, and Frank J. Gaffney. who wondered in The Washington Times last year: Is Barack Obama "America's first Muslim president?"
- Blaine Luetkemeyer tells constituents that everything Glenn Beck says "must be true because nobody's refuting it."
- And cries of "socialism!" elicit little more than yawns at this point.
Republican leaders have not challenged the extreme or elements of their party. Instead, they've actively worked to court those crazy voices, and the mainstream and fringe have become one.
Citizens and the press need to step up and fight back.
Image credit: Flickr.com/photos/matthewsphotography, taken in Kansas City, 4/15/09