So President Obama might just as well be one. A Muslim, that is. Why not? What's the worst that can happen politically? Armageddon in November for Democrats? That's already bubbling up nicely. Not getting elected in 2012? Who thinks that's going to happen as things stand?
Newsweek's black, red and white front page this week screamed "The making of a terrorist-coddling warmongering Wall Street-loving socialistic Godless Muslim President* (then in tiny print), who isn't actually any of these things by Jonathan Alter."
The Globe's front page was the more tame: "Shocking Proof: Obama IS a Muslim! Revealed! His stunning confession to top government official, why he wants mosque at 9/11 site". Inside, the lead was "Obama's (then in red) Muslim Cover-Up! President is backing mosque at 9-11 site because he REALLY is follower of Islam - (then in tiny print) critics say."
OK then. This is where we are. A respected news magazine and a (sometimes accurate) tabloid both decide to slime the President in the same week with the innuendo du jour - the horror of being one of the world's 1.4 billion Muslims, and to sell copies, of course.
Newsweek confines itself to slime on the cover. Jonathan Alter's article is intelligent, informative and something the West Wing should read. Newsweek also contains the poll showing that 52% of Republicans think it's "definitely true" or "probably true" that Obama "sympathizes with the goals of fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world". Overall, 24% of respondents think Obama is a Muslim (he's not, but he might as well be.) That's up from 13% in June 2008. Worse for the President, 59% of Republicans believe the President favors "the interests of Muslims over other groups of Americans".
The Globe goes to town with an "exclusive Special Report". The smear is supported by a statement by Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who told Nile TV that President Obama told him in private that he's a Muslim, sympathetic towards the Muslim agenda, and in time he would show the Muslim world how to deal with Israel. I guess President Obama is showing the Muslim world this week that the way to deal with Israel is through peace talks. (Here's how the anti Islam blogs are playing it - warning, it's gross.) The Globe also quotes a "D.C. insider", "critics" and "a source". Of course, nobody would go on the record.
Given that Politifact recently debunked the Obama as a Muslim myth, given that the President has personally testified to his Christian faith in his books and in April at an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House (funny thing for a Muslim to hold), given that he regularly consults with Christian spiritual advisors by phone, given all this - the fact is that none of it is taking hold with the American public.
So President Obama might as well be a Muslim.
One alternative is to be the Anti-Christ, which 24% of Republicans and 6% of Democrats think might just be the case. Yes, according to an online Harris poll taken in early March this year, over a quarter of those questioned think the President's the Anti-Christ. Which Democrats, I wonder?
Obama could try being an atheist, but believing in no God is arguably more unpopular than believing in a "Muslim" God. This is a religious country. Anyway, why play into the hands of publicity hound Ann Coulter and her latest rant?
Perhaps the best reason for the President to just - well - be a Muslim is national security. Newsweek interviewed a Taliban operative called Zabihullah. He said "The more mosques you stop, the more Jihadis we will get". "It's providing us with more recruits, donations and popular support."
A real Muslim president would wade further into the mosque mess than the hit and run support of President Obama. He would persuade Americans of the rightness of his beliefs, and explain the national security ramifications to them. At the same time, he would reach out to the Muslim world as a brother and as an American and explain how many Americans feel. Why didn't the President do any of those things? Ah - maybe it would bust his "cover".
All of which brings us back to the claim on the front of Newsweek and The Globe that Obama really is a Muslim - a secret Muslim. It's a claim advanced on extreme websites like these, and it's working. A full quarter of Americans think he's a Muslim, and they don't mean it in the warm and fuzzy "religion of peace" way. Obama's denied it, he hasn't made a pilgrimage to Mecca, he hasn't fasted during Ramadan and nobody's reported him praying five times a day all over the White House in corners. People must think he's a liar.
But wait. If Obama was a Muslim he could, under some circumstances, practice Taqiyya, and deny his faith. He could live a secret life. A bit risky theologically, but what's the leader of the free world to do? Tell the truth?
Who's listening to the truth?