If you thought the conservative freak out over news that President Obama plans to attend a Memorial Day ceremony in his hometown of Chicago while Vice President Biden lays a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery couldn't get any stupider than Erick Erickson's claim that it shows Obama "really doesn't like the military," you were wrong.
Enter Fox & Friends.
This morning, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade, historian (with a tenuous grasp on recent history) Richard Miller, National Review's Andrew McCarthy, and former Harry Reid aide Penny Lee discussed the "news" of Obama's Memorial Day plans, accompanied by chyrons featuring the text "Trampling On Tradition?", "Offensive To Soldiers?" and "Memorial Day Miss-Out?"
In order to "Trample on Tradition" as the chyron suggests, or "break tradition" as Kilmeade stated, Obama's decision to attend a ceremony in Chicago instead of Arlington would have to be unprecedented. It isn't.
Let's recap once again, because Fox and co. are having some difficulty with this: In 1983 President Reagan attended a "summit meeting in Williamsburg, Va." on Memorial Day while Deputy Secretary of Defense W. Paul Thayer laid a wreath at Arlington Cemetery. In 1992, George H.W. Bush attended a ceremony in Kennebunkport, Maine (where he also reportedly played a round of golf) while VP Dan Quayle laid the wreath at Arlington. In 2002, President George W. Bush commemorated Memorial Day at Normandy. Shockingly, Fox News wasn't exactly incensed over that one.
During the segment, Andrew McCarthy used this non-story as evidence that Obama is "uncomfortable" with the military, which he sees as a "necessary evil." McCarthy also said Obama "doesn't want to be associated with the traditions" of the military. This makes absolutely no sense, seeing as how Obama just gave the commencement speech at West Point last weekend (which Kilmeade surprisingly pointed out), and will be at a military cemetery on Memorial Day.
The fact that each of the last three Republican Presidents did not attend Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery at least once should put to rest this latest cynical attempt to smear Obama as anti-military. If the thrust of the attack is that this "breaks tradition" and is therefore possibly "offensive" to soldiers, then conservatives either need to abandon this talking point or embrace the idea that several of their Republican heroes also hated the troops.
But that's not how the noise machine works, which Erick Erickson demonstrated on Twitter yesterday.
Neat trick, eh? This is evidence Obama hates the military because conservatives like Erickson have previously questioned Obama's "support for soldiers and belief in American Exceptionalism." Basically, Obama hates the military because conservatives claim Obama hates the military. That's CNN-quality analysis right there.
Richard Miller joined Erickson in the conservative echo chamber during the above Fox & Friends segment. Miller said "we may remember" the time Obama "notoriously" chose to not visit soldiers wounded in Afghanistan during the 2008 campaign. We do remember that, in fact -- because it was a smear. At the time, Obama had already visited wounded soldiers in Iraq, but canceled his trip to Landstuhl because the Pentagon said it may be viewed as a campaign stop (and you can be sure Miller and friends would have been outraged about Obama "using the troops as campaign props" had he not canceled the trip).
And, rest assured, in a few months conservatives will be talking about that time Obama supposedly broke tradition by commemorating Memorial Day in Chicago in order to buttress their next fabricated attack on Obama as "anti-military." When that next smear is debunked, conservatives like Erickson will point to the fact that everyone just "knows" Obama is anti-military to prove whatever trumped-up garbage they've come up with next.
It's like a Mobius Strip of lies, with one endlessly chasing the other.