A Harris poll released on March 24 found that a majority of Republican respondents believe that President Obama "is a socialist," "wants to take away Americans' right to own guns," "is a Muslim," "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one world government," and "has done many things that are unconstitutional." The findings follow a year of such smears and attacks on Obama by conservatives.
Republicans have bought into right-wing smears of Obama
According to the Harris poll, conducted of 2,320 adults between March 1 and March 8, a majority of Republicans believe Obama is a socialist (67 percent), wants to take away Americans' right to own guns (61 percent), is Muslim (57 percent), wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one-world government (51 percent), and that he has done many things that are unconstitutional (51 percent). Large minorities also believe Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore ineligible for the presidency (45 percent), is a racist (42 percent), and is doing many things Adolf Hitler did (38 percent).
In the past two years, conservatives in the media have advanced many of these false claims, including that Obama is in fact a Muslim and not a Christian, wants to take away Americans' guns, and was not born in the United States. They have also advanced numerous smears that Obama is a socialist, a racist, and has policies and beliefs similar to Hitler's.
Right-wing rhetoric: Obama is a socialist
Limbaugh: "The facts are facts. The president is a socialist." On the March 24 broadcast of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh addressed the Harris poll, which he noted was flawed, saying: "'Antichrist' and 'Muslim' -- I don't know where they're getting that, because that's not a part of the program. I haven't really made that one of our topics here. ... Now, as far as this Hitler business, one of the first things that the National Socialist Party did was try to nationalize health care." He concluded, "I mean, the facts are facts. The president is a socialist. The number ought to be much higher than 67 percent." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/24/10]
Limbaugh: "We are fighting a fascist, social -- whatever you call it -- takeover and remaking of the United States." In September 2009, Limbaugh said: "The Republican Party's got problems -- do not misunderstand me -- but nothing posed by the Republican Party is a threatening as what Obama is doing," adding that "[w]e are fighting a fascist, social -- whatever you call it -- takeover and remaking of the United States." He then suggested that Obama wants "to tear up the Constitution and rewrite it," "take over the mortgage business," "put the federal government in charge of every dollar the American people have access to." [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/17/09]
Morris: Obama is "going to adopt the entire socialist program by essentially circumventing the Constitution." On March 19, talking about President Obama's policies, Fox News contributor Dick Morris, who has repeatedly referred to Obama as a "socialist," stated: "I think he'll pass amnesty for illegal immigrants with it [reconciliation]; he'll pass cap and trade; he'll pass financial regulation; he'll pass the public option -- between the House doing the 'deem to have passed' and the Senate doing reconciliation, he's got his own little Constitution going here." He later added that Obama "is going to adopt the entire socialist program by essentially circumventing the Constitution." [Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor; 3/19/10]
Beck: Obama "is so clearly" a socialist. Talking about an interview Obama had with The New York Times, during which Obama was asked, "Are you a socialist as some people have suggested?" Fox News host Neil Cavuto said Beck "started" the trend of questioning whether Obama is a socialist because Beck was "calling him socialist on your show." Beck replied that Obama "is so clearly" a socialist, adding that "he has surrounded himself with Marxists his whole life" and that "this is who he is." [Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/9/09]
Hannity: Obama admin is pushing "the single biggest power grab and move towards socialism in the history of the country." On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity stated: "In the last two days, we know this administration has pushed the idea of the single biggest power grab and move towards socialism in the history of the country." The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Hayes and former Fox Business executive Alexis Glick both agreed, with Hayes saying, "That's right" and Glick replying, "Yeah." [Fox News' Hannity, 3/24/09]
Dobbs: "[S]ocialism has arrived in the first three months of this year." Citing an "amazing stat," which he said demonstrated that "when we talk about socialism, we're not just a-woofing, as the saying goes," Lou Dobbs said on his radio show, "For the first time in the history of the United States, the federal government has supplanted sales, property, and income taxes at the state level as the biggest source of money for state and local governments." He later added: "[S]o socialism has arrived in the first three months of this year, folks, and it is -- well, it is what it is, and it's not going to change, I'm afraid, for a little while." [United Stations Radio Networks' The Lou Dobbs Show, 5/5/09]
Right-wing rhetoric: Obama wants to take away Americans' right to own guns
Beck: Obama "will slowly but surely take away your gun or take away your ability to shoot a gun, carry a gun." On his radio show, Beck stated that Obama "will slowly but surely take away your gun or take away your ability to shoot a gun, carry a gun. He will make them more expensive; he'll tax them out of existence. He will because he has said he would. He will tax your gun or take your gun away one way or another." Since Obama's election, several conservative media figures have similarly warned that Obama would seize their guns or have suggested that a government effort to ban guns is likely. [The Glenn Beck Program, 4/7/09]
Liddy advised listeners: "[N]o matter what law they pass, do not -- repeat, not -- ever register any of your firearms." Talking to a caller about assault weapons, Liddy repeatedly advised people not to register their firearms, saying that "the main thing is, you know, get them into private hands as quickly as possible. ... The first thing you do is, no matter what law they pass, do not -- repeat, not -- ever register any of your firearms. Because that's where they get the list of where to go first to confiscate. So, you don't ever register a firearm, anywhere." [The G. Gordon Liddy Show, 11/13/08]
Right-wing rhetoric: Obama is a Muslim
Savage: Obama is "an unknown stealth candidate" who "in fact, was a Muslim." Michael Savage falsely asserted that Obama was a Muslim and attended a madrassa, saying: "Look who we inherited in this country, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Hussein Obama, in one generation. A war hero to -- a war hero who commanded the Allied operations against Nazi Germany was running for the presidency then. Now we have an unknown stealth candidate who went to a madrassas in Indonesia and, in fact, was a Muslim." [Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation, 4/3/08]
KSFO's Rodgers: Obama "admits in one of his own books" that he would "stand with the Muslims" against "the Western world." Recalling a false allegation in a chain email, Lee Rodgers falsely claimed Obama "admits in one of his own books" that "in case of a confrontation between the Western world and the Islamic world, he will stand with the Muslims." In fact, what Obama wrote in his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, according to FactCheck.org, "is that he would stand with American immigrants from Pakistan or Arab countries should they be faced with something like the forced detention of Japanese-American families in World War II." [KSFO's The Lee Rodgers Show, 10/22/08]
Conservative radio hosts seize on Obama comment to revive false rumors about his faith. During the 2008 campaign, numerous conservative talk-radio hosts selectively highlighted Obama's assertion, which he immediately clarified, that "John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith" to revive rumors that he is a Muslim, not a Christian. For example, Chris Baker claimed that Obama's comment was "obviously a Freudian slip" and stated, "He confessed. It's over." Savage described Obama as a "Muslim stealth candidate" and stated: "I have nothing against moderate Muslims. ... The question is, why is he covering up his Muslim faith?"
Right-wing rhetoric: Obama wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one-world government
Hannity promises to "expose" Obama's "campaign" to "forfeit our national sovereignty" in new book. According to a description of Hannity's book, Conservative Victory, posted on Hannity.com, "Hannity surveys all the major Obama players -- from the president's affiliation with radical theology to his advisers' history of Marxist activism, repression of the media, support for leftist dictators, and worse," and "exposes their resulting campaign to dismantle the American free-market system and forfeit our national sovereignty" to "show how conservatives can unite behind this country's most cherished principles and act now to get America back on the right track."
Morris: "Those crazies in Montana who say, 'We're going to kill ATF agents because the UN's going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case." In March 2009, Morris called Obama an "internationalist," who "really regards the United States as George Bush once said and John Bolton recently quoted to me, as one of those countries between Albania and Zanzibar in the UN and not particularly fighting for American interests, but looking for global coordination." Morris went on to say that the "impetus for Obama's policies essentially are European social democrats that want international policies so that they can implement their socialism without driving out capital, and this G-20 meeting might be the time that they really begin to do it." He concluded: "Those crazies in Montana who say, "We're going to kill ATF agents because the UN's going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case." [Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/31/09]
Morris: "The Declaration of Independence has been repealed." In an April 2009 column headlined, "The Declaration of Independence has been repealed," discussing Obama's signing of a new G-20 communiqué establishing a new Financial Stability Board, Morris claimed, "On April 2, 2009, the work of July 4, 1776 was nullified at the meeting of the G-20 in London." On the April 3 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Morris asserted that "it effectively ceded massive areas of American sovereignty to Europe and to the global economic mavens" and that "this literally is a massive surrender of sovereignty to an essentially European body." Other conservative media figures have also asserted or suggested that U.S. sovereignty may give way to a one-world government.
Monica Crowley: Communiqué is "first step to abrogating American sovereignty." In April 2009, radio host Monica Crowley claimed the G-20 communiqué Obama had signed is the "the first step to abrogating American sovereignty here, because ... it is going to allow European bureaucrats to step in, not just on the hedge fund regulation and the other explicit things that they agreed to, but buried deep down in this communiqué was the ability for European bureaucrats sitting in Brussels to decide what kind of executive compensation American executives should" receive.
Right-wing rhetoric: Obama has done many things that are unconstitutional
Beck asks if it "may have been the plan from the beginning" to pass "unconstitutional reform." On his Fox News show, Beck claimed that health care "doesn't sound like it would work constitutionally," (a claim he has made repeatedly) but that it "may have been the plan from the beginning" to get the "institutional infrastructure" set up to create a public option. [Glenn Beck, 12/17/09]
Morris: Obama has put the regulation of the American financial sector under international control." In a video promotion for his book, Catastrophe, Morris stated that "through the G20 summit process and then the elaboration and expansion of regulation of financial institutions" Obama "has put the regulation of the American financial sector under international control" and that as a result, the "Declaration of Independence has been repealed." Morris added that the "loss of sovereignty" lies "at the core of Barack Obama's agenda."
Beck declares the American Community Survey unconstitutional. On his Fox News show, Beck asserted that the supplement to the Census called the American Community Survey "is unconstitutional," adding "I don't need to tell you all of this." [Glenn Beck, 5/22/09]
Right-wing rhetoric: Obama was not born in the United States
Michael Savage: Obama's certificate of live birth is a "forgery." In October 2008, Savage declared that Obama's birth certificate "does not exist, they can't find it in the Hawaii government. It's never been produced. The one that was produced is a forgery." He later claimed that that "Mr. [Jerome] Corsi went over to Kenya to investigate his relatives in Kenya, and he was arrested by the Muslim leader of Kenya because Mr. Corsi uncovered the true birthplace, I believe, of Hussein Obama." [Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation, 10/8/08]
Jerome Corsi: The argument that Obama was born in Kenya has "some credibility to it." During a September 2008 broadcast of The G. Gordon Liddy Show, Jerome Corsi claimed that the argument that "Obama's father and mother went back to Kenya before Obama was born, and evidently the pregnancy was so advanced that Ann Dunham was not allowed to return to the United States, and Obama was born in Kenya" seemed "to have some credibility to it, because the Obama campaign refuses to release the original birth certificate." [The G. Gordon Liddy Show, 9/17/08]
Right-wing rhetoric: Obama is a racist
Beck: Obama is a "racist" who has "a deep-seated hatred for white people." Discussing Obama's response to the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Beck asserted that Obama has "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." After being reminded that Obama has numerous white staffers, Beck contradicted himself, stating, "I'm not saying that he doesn't like white people. I'm saying he has a problem." He concluded: "This guy is, I believe, a racist." [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 7/28/09]
Limbaugh: Obama is "the greatest example of a reverse racist." Talking about the nomination process of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Limbaugh said: "Here you have a racist. You might want to soften that and say, a reverse racist. And the libs of course say that minorities cannot be racists because they don't have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone because reverse racists certainly do have the power to implement their power -- Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and, now, he's appointed one." [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 5/26/09]
Limbaugh: "I do believe" Obama is an "angry black guy." Talking about reactions to his comment that Obama is "one angry guy," Limbaugh said: "They're finally hearing me -- he's an angry black guy. I do believe that about the president. I do believe he's angry. I think his wife is angry. All liberals are enraged all the time anyway. They're always mad." [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/27/09]
American Thinker: "Obama's racism against whites is upfront, in-your-face racism." In a November 2009 post on the American Thinker blog, contributor Kevin Jackson wrote that "Obama is the best kind of racist to whites, but the worst kind of racist to blacks," adding that "Obama's racism against whites is upfront, in-your-face racism." Jackson concluded: "Is Obama a racist? Of course he is! ... [H]e is both the best and worst kind of racist." [American Thinker, 11/23/09]
Cunningham: "Barack Hussein Obama -- that's the racist, obviously." Discussing Rev. Jeremiah Wright with a caller on his radio show, Bill Cunningham replied to the caller's question, "Who's the real racist here?" by saying, "Well, it's Barack Hussein Obama -- that's the racist, obviously. He used race to get elected, and now he's using charges of racism against those who oppose him, very obviously." [Premiere Radio Networks' Live on Sunday Night, It's Bill Cunningham, 8/24/09]
Right-wing rhetoric: Obama is doing many of the things that Hitler did
Limbaugh: "Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate." On his radio show, Limbaugh asserted that "Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate." Limbaugh has also repeatedly "compared Obama's health care policies to the Nazis' " [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/6/09]
Beck: "This is what Hitler did with the SS." Discussing Obama's call for a "civilian national security force" -- which was a reference to expanding the foreign service, AmeriCorps, and the Peace Corps -- Beck said: "I'm finding this -- this is the hardest part to connect to. Because this is -- I mean, look, you know, David [Bellavia, former Army staff sergeant], what you just said is, you said, 'I'm not comparing' -- but you are. I mean, this is what Hitler did with the SS. He had his own people. He had the brownshirts and then the SS. This is what Saddam Hussein -- so -- but you are comparing that. And I -- I mean, I think America would have a really hard time getting their arms around that." [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 8/27/09]
Beck: "I read [Mein Kampf]" and "the Germans ... were an awful lot like we are now." After asking, "Did the Germans know?" Beck stated that "the scariest book I ever bought was Mein Kampf." He continued, "I went and I bought it and I read it, 'cause I wanted to answer that question. The answer was -- yes, they knew. I think the Germans, however, were an awful lot like we are now; we're kind of living in a denial like -- no, that can't really be happening. No, that really -- you don't want to believe some things but you have to. You have to actually think about them." [Glenn Beck, 6/10/09]