On Tuesday, the Weekly Standard's Michael Goldbarb claimed that the Obama administration had threatened Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) with closing Offutt Air Force Base, home of the US Strategic Command, if Nelson didn't support the health care reform bill in the Senate (Michelle Malkin made a similar claim).
Even though this questionable report was based on a single anonymous source ("a Senate aide") and has been denied by both Nelson's staff and the White House, Glenn Beck has repeatedly promoted it on his TV and radio shows and suggested that it would constitute treason -- the latest in a long series of smears against Obama's loyalty since 2006.
During his radio show Wednesday, Beck suggested that the allegation would constitute "high crimes" -- a reference to the Constitution's definition of impeachable offenses as "high crimes and misdemeanors":
Beck read from Goldfarb's post and called it "one of the worst things you've heard yet this year." Despite later saying that "[w]e have called Senator Nelson's office; Senator Nelson says, 'No, no, no. That's not true,' " Beck interviewed Goldfarb, who said, "I have 100 percent confidence in my source on this, and, of course, the Nelson people have every reason to deny it." After Goldfarb later said, "As I understand it, Rahm Emanuel delivered a message to the Senate leadership that if Nelson did not get behind this, Offutt Air Force base would find itself on the next round of BRAC closures," Beck responded, "I don't even know what category that fits in -- high crimes?"
Later that day, Beck invoked treason three separate times on his TV show (transcript via Nexis):
-"I have to tell you, there's a story at the bottom of the hour that if it is true -- and we have three sources on it now -- if it is true -- I mean, how much closer do you get to treason? ..."
-"It's crazy. Give that one a whirl. I've said it all along, principles over party. Principles. Well, one senator apparently agrees with me. I say kind of, maybe, but his party reportedly very angry, and allegedly making threats. This one borders treason, I believe..."
-"The rabid progressives don't care how they accomplish their goals. The ends justify the means. This book - this guy just last week said about me, 'We've got to shut Glenn Beck up by any means necessary.' That's how they do their work. But this - using the military and our strategic command as a pawn, threatening to weaken our national security defenses to fulfill your utopian social justice agenda? To me, that borders on treason! No one - no one - no one wants to believe that the president of the United States or any of his advisors would stoop to these kinds of tactics.
Even though Goldfarb's story is collapsing, the rumor has spread rapidly through the conservative media and prompted twenty Republican senators to call for an investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee (via David Weigel). What a nightmare.
[I've added Beck's statements to my timeline of loyalty smears against Obama since 2006.]