Right-wing media: "Creat[ing]" Controversy--and Hypocrisy

Blog ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

Once again, the right-wing media has found a way to criticize basically anything Obama does or says. This time, they're attacking Obama for omitting the words "the Creator" when quoting from the Declaration of Independence. You see, to them, this is just further evidence that Obama is a godless, heathen, secret Muslim, anti-colonial Kenyan...or whatever.

On September 15 at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Annual Awards Gala, President Barack Obama said:

So let me close by saying this. Long before America was even an idea, this land of plenty was home to many peoples. To British and French, to Dutch and Spanish, to Mexican -- to countless Indian tribes. We all shared the same land. We didn't always get along. But over the centuries, what eventually bound us together -- what made us all Americans -- was not a matter of blood, it wasn't a matter of birth. It was faith and fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights: life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That's what makes us unique. That's what makes us strong. The ability to recognize our common humanity; to remember that in this country, equality and opportunity are not just words on a piece of paper, they're not just words in the mouths of politicians -- they are promises to be kept. And that is our calling now -- to keep those promises for the next generation. No matter which way the political winds shift, I will stand with you for that better future. And if you stand with me, and if we remember that fundamental truth -- that divided we fall, but united we are strong, and out of many, we are one -- then you and I will finish what we have started. We will make sure that America forever remains an idea and a place that's big enough and bold enough and brave enough to accommodate the dreams of all our children and all our people for years to come. Si, se puede. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

Right-wing outrage ensued.

What did they find to be so objectionable? Before closing with "God bless you, and God bless the United States of America," Obama paraphrased the Declaration of Independence, saying, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights: life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

In fact, the Declaration of Independence states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Big Journalism declared that "the look on [Obama's] face as he edits out Thomas Jefferson's acknowledgement of the Deity says it all." The American Thinker declared that, "After President Obama says 'created equal..', there is a long pause during which he scowls and blinks several times. ...It looks like he is disgusted and decided it would better not to read what the preamble actually says." Citing American Thinker, Glenn Beck's The Blaze asks, "So, did he just forget the words, maybe couldn't see the lines, or did he leave them out intentionally?" Not to be outdone, Newt Gingrich weighed in:

Gingrich tweet

Of course, Obama has repeatedly quoted this phrase from the Declaration of Independence in full, which, to a sane observer, would indicate that Obama's paraphrasing during the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Awards Gala was exactly that. For instance, during his May 22 commencement address at West Point, Obama said, "We believe, 'that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'" On the Fourth of July this year, Obama said, "And here in a still young century, let us renew our commitment to stand with those around the world who, like us, still believe in that simple yet revolutionary notion


that we are all endowed by our Creator 'with certain unalienable rights.'" Obama was repeatedly quoted as accurately quoting this line from the Declaration in campaign speeches throughout 2008, and, even when paraphrasing the line in the past, he's made reference to God. Check out this except of his Inaugural Address:

The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness

Nonetheless, facts never get in the way of a good right-wing attack, and, come on, Newt Gingrich is very serious about quoting the Declaration of Independence exactly. Gingrich would definitely never misquote the Declaration of Independence, especially in prepared remarks...except for last year, when he did in a column. In a June 17 Human Events column, Gingrich wrote:

If you go to the National Archives, you will find the words that are fundamental to America written in the Declaration of Independence:

"We are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

A simple question for Gingrich: was "their Creator" changed to "our creator" deliberately and by whom?--Pretty amazing.

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