Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is the latest conservative to smear President Obama as sympathetic to terrorists or disloyal to the United States, a claim that builds on the misperception that Obama is a Muslim.
Sen. Jim Inhofe said today that President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo was "un-American" because he referred to the war in Iraq as "a war of choice" and didn't criticize Iran for developing a nuclear program.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, also criticized the president for suggesting that torture was conducted at the military prison in Guantanamo, saying, "There has never been a documented case of torture at Guantanamo."
"I just don't know whose side he's on," Inhofe said of the president.
This wasn't just an off-the-cuff remark either. Brian Beutler of the TPM DC blog followed up with Inhofe's communications director, who repeated the insinuation of disloyalty, saying Obama "certainly doesn't seem to be on the side of our men and women in uniform":
Curious which 'sides' Inhofe might have had in mind, I asked his communications director, Jared Young, to complete the picture a bit. According to Young, Inhofe was saying he's "kind of confused about why the President's going on foreign soil and in some cases echoing talking points from al Qaeda about Guantanamo Bay."
So is he saying he think's the President's on the side of terrorists?
"No, no, he's not saying that, no. He just certainly doesn't seem to be on the side of our men and women in uniform."
As Steve Benen notes, Inhofe has a history of making such allegations against Obama:
A month ago, Inhofe told a group of constituents that the president intends to let "hard-core terrorists" run "loose in the United States." He was lying. In April, Inhofe insisted Obama is "disarming America. Never before has a president so ravaged the military at a time of war." He was lying about this, too.
During last year's presidential campaign, Inhofe asked, "Do you really want to have a guy as commander in chief of this country when you can question whether or not he really loves his country? That's the big question."
This isn't the first time that Inhofe has demagogued national security either. Back in 2005, he voted (along with 32 other Senate Republicans) for a loathsome amendment that would have stripped the security clearance of any lawmaker who "makes a statement based on a FBI agent's comments which is used as propaganda by terrorist organizations" -- an attempt to silence Democratic criticism of the Bush administration.
Sadly, Inhofe's statements are part of a long pattern of suggestions by Republican officeholders, conservative pundits, and right-leaning media outlets that Obama is disloyal, a terrorist sympathizer, etc. -- a tactic that echoes the numerous post-9/11 suggestions that Democrats who criticized the government were aiding terrorists. To illustrate the point, I've compiled the following timeline of smears suggesting that Obama is disloyal (please send me any examples that I'm missing):
December 2006: Columnist Debbie Schlussel notes that Obama's father was a Muslim and asks "Where will his loyalties be?"
February 2008: Radio talk show host Bill Cunningham calls Obama "this Manchurian candidate" but says "I do not believe Barack Hussein Obama is a terrorist or a Manchurian candidate."
April 2008: During an apperance on Glenn Beck's show on CNN Headline News, Ann Coulter asks "Is Obama a Manchurian candidate to normal Americans who love their country? ... Or is he being the Manchurian candidate to the traitor wing of the Democratic Party?"
May 2008: Fox News analyst Dick Morris states that "the determinant in the election will be whether we believe that Barack Obama is what he appears to be, or is he somebody who's sort of a sleeper agent who really doesn't believe in our system and is more in line with [Rev. Jeremiah] Wright's views?"
June 2008: During separate television apperances on Fox News and NBC, Dick Morris says "[T]he question that plagues Obama is ... Is he pro-American?" and states that "[T]his whole debate about what kind of president [Sen. Barack] Obama would make has swirled around almost an existential level. Is he sort of a Manchurian candidate? A sleeper agent? Or is he the great hope of the future?"
April 2009: Frank Gaffney claims on MSNBC that Obama's apparent bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was "code" telling "our Muslim enemies that you are willing to submit to them."
May 2009: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich alleges on "Fox News Sunday" that there is a "weird pattern" in which Obama administration officials were "prepared to take huge risks with Americans in order to defend terrorists" and suggests that the Obama administration was proposing "welfare" for terrorists. He then claims on "Meet the Press" that the Obama administration's "highest priority" is to "find some way to defend terrorists."
June 2009: Senator James Inhofe calls Obama's Cairo speech "un-American" and says "I just don't know whose side he's on." Talk show host Lee Rodgers asserts that Obama is "an anti-American president" and that Obama's policies will lead to a "few million dead Americans."
This timeline will be maintained and updated here.