Birther Report has made a video available on YouTube that I found interesting. It is a segment by Bill O’Reilly criticizing Oprah Winfrey for a comment she made about the role of race in the criticism of Barack Obama.
O’Reilly took umbrage at that, saying that George W. Bush received much more withering criticism at the hands of liberals than Obama has at the hands of a small number of extremists. As someone who travels daily through the sewers of the birther movement, O’Reilly’s assessment sounds ludicrous. No one ever said that every detail of Bush’s biography was fabricated. I don’t recall anyone saying that Bush’s intent was to destroy the country. O’Reilly doesn’t count the birthers among Obama’s critics, rather marginalizing them as “extreme” and “kooks” and correctly pointing out that no one in the media takes them seriously.
O’Reilly tries to walk through this issue turn sideways. He mentions criticism against Kennedy because he was Catholic as a parallel to Obama being criticized for being Muslim—only Kennedy really was Catholic, while Obama is not Muslim.
More than 5 years later, it’s hard to remember and gauge the intensity of anti-Bush rhetoric. Thinking back, I do remember a few things. Illegal drug use is one thing about which there were criticisms leveled at both Bush and Obama. Sharon Bush, George W. Bush’s sister in law, was quoted by author Kitty Kelley as saying that George W. Bush took cocaine at Camp David when his father was President. Bush, asked about whether he had used cocaine or marijuana, famously replied: “I’m not going to talk about what I did as a child. It is irrelevant what I did 20 to 30 years ago.” President Obama candidly admitted in his biography using both cocaine and marijuana, albeit not cocaine as a high school student as some allege.
One of the more offensive things I saw directed at President Obama involved portraying him as a monkey. That said, I always thought George Bush looked like a chimpanzee. It wasn’t a criticism—I just saw the resemblance, as did others:
I’ve barely scratched the surface and readers might want to try a Google image search for more George Bush images. On the Obama front, we had one image that was given much more media attention because it was forwarded by a Republican Party official, captioned “now you know why no birth certificate.
It might just be my bias, but I see the Bush images as saying “Bush looks like a monkey” where the Obama image says “Obama is a monkey.”
Certainly no one found a pictures of someone that looked a little like Barbara Bush and then claimed that George W. Bush’s mother was a porn model and a slut. Is comparing Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 to Gilbert’s Dreams from my Real Father appropriate?
I think that backed into a corner, Bill O’Reilly would have to admit that much worse things are being said about Obama than Bush; however, his argument is that the worst of the anti-Obama material is in no way mainstream, and is not a real part of the national dialog. That begs the question of where the national dialog is—on Fox news, or on a million Internet blogs and a billion email inboxes. I think O’Reilly’s argument is self serving, allocating to himself and his profession the only voice that counts.