On NBC’s Meet the Press this weekend, Speaker John Boehner was pressed by host David Gregory to repudiate the baseless allegations of Obama being a Muslim and having not been born in the USA. Boehner declined. In the process, he said, “David, it’s not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people.”
On the face of it, Boehner is merely restating what has become a tired mantra of many politicians—they are listening to the American people. Yet the larger implications of his statement on a whole, especially in the context it was stated, are particularly troubling.
The Speaker told Gregory that people have a right to their beliefs and it wasn’t his job to tell them what to think. However, as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everybody is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.” Where the President was born and what religion he practices are not matters of belief or opinion. This is evidential information. Boehner himself says he accepts Obama’s Hawaiian birth and Christianity as “facts as he understands them”.
Not only is Boehner saying he considers the views of the ignorant and misinformed to be equally as valid as everyone else, but he strongly feels that as a leader he has no obligation to lead. He will just follow blithely where the unwitting wish.
This would merely be a comical interlude except that studies show that Fox News viewers are already the most misinformed citizens, and a Fox News insider has revealed a news culture where “facts” are routinely just made up to suit the desired narrative. Boehner is making it all the more clear that misinformed constituents are now part of the Republican strategy.