Who knew that such a squeaky-clean icon could get so down and dirty?
Pat Boone, the clean-cut entertainer with the safe-as-milk reputation, has always been conservative; the Wikipedia article on him notes that he actively supported Ronald Reagan's races for California governor in the 1960s. But the past few years -- especially following the election of Barack Obama as president -- has brought out a surprising amount of hostility from Boone that belies his reputation.
Boone writes a weekly column that is published at right-wing outlets like WorldNetDaily and Newsmax. He also has posting privileges at NewsBusters (although he's limited it thus far to a single post). It's a column Boone has used as a forum for his right-wing politics, and some of his opinions have been so extreme they have caused Newsmax to censor them.
In an Oct. 31, 2009, column, Boone likened "the current occupant" of the White House -- you know, Obama -- as someone who "has purposely brought a whole flock of social and political voracious varmints with him into our House," likening this to "a very real infestation of termites and rodents." Boone discusses "tenting," in which "Experts come in, actually envelope the whole dwelling in a giant tent - and send a very powerful fumigant, lethal to the varmints and unwelcome creatures, into every nook and cranny of the house. Done thoroughly, every last destructive insect or rodent is sent to varmint hell - and in a day or two, the grand house is habitable again." Boone adds, "I believe - figuratively, but in a very real way - we need to tent the White House!"
WorldNetDaily published this veiled threat against the president, where it still resides. Newsmax originally published it but then deleted it after news of its eliminationist rhetoric spread. Newsmax was perhaps a little sensitive to such things; a couple months earlier, Newsmax faced a controversy after longtime columnist John L. Perry advocated a military coup to deal with the "Obama problem."
That wasn't the only Boone column Newsmax blanched at. In his April 3 column -- published by WND in its entirety -- Pat Boone expressed vitriolic hatred of both Muslims and Barack Obama:
Differing from virtually every previous U.S. president, Mr. Obama seems to accept the claims of the Palestinian leadership, even the violent Hamas and Hezbollah, that the land given by God and settled by Israelites 4,000 years ago now rightfully belongs, at least in large part, to random settlers who moved into the area only in the last 200 years. And though the Balfour Declaration and the United Nations - and most civilized society the world over - have acknowledged and verified Israel's claim to their historic homeland, this president is doing everything he can to pressure Israel's leaders to cave in to the demands of the Muslim settlers.
This man spent his childhood in Indonesia and lived as a Muslim. Right through his teens and his three college experiences, as he recounted in his autobiography, he sought out the companionship and mentoring of dissidents and even Marxist teachers. As he began his ascent in politics and "community organizing," he joined a liberal church whose angry leader, Jeremiah Wright, is still pastor emeritus. Obama says he became a Christian there, but he apparently never read the biblical history of the Jews and God's eternal commitment to them of the tiny land that includes Jerusalem, the Holy City He calls Mount Zion. And he seems unaware of God's declaration to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: "I will bless those that bless you - and I will curse those who curse you."
But when Boone's column appeared at Newsmax, it was in a severely truncated form. The second paragraph was removed entirely, and the first paragraph was edited to remove specific references to Muslims and Hezbollah:
Differing from virtually every previous U.S. president, Mr. Obama seems to accept the claims of the Palestinian leadership, even the violent Hamas, that the land given by God and settled by Israelites thousands of years ago now rightfully belongs, at least in large part, to settlers who moved into the area only in the last 200 years. And though the Balfour Declaration and the United Nations -- and most of civilized society the world over -- have acknowledged and verified Israel's claim to their historic homeland, this president is doing everything he can to pressure Israel's leaders to cave in to the demands of the settlers.
Deleted entirely was the entire first section of the column, a weird, incomprehensible metaphor likening -- well, we don't quite know what he was getting at:
"Mrs. Obama, I'm Oskar Steinhaven, your next-door neighbor. We met once, when you and your husband were looking at this property, before you bought it. Remember? I told you my family and I were planning to buy this place. But somehow, you and Mr. Rezko made a deal for you to buy it, for less than I had already offered.
"You see, my family has lived in this area for over 80 years. We used to own all the land here, but our grandfather had to sell most of it in the Great Depression, keeping only our home next door. But our family has always felt this is still our land, and we've always intended to reclaim it. We were quite upset when you bought it and moved in, and then added another parcel to it. We tried to reason with Mr. Rezko, but he didn't listen or care about our heritage, our history on this very land.
"But then your husband was elected president, and whenever you come here, the place is swarming with Secret Service and other police; thousands of people drive by and gawk. We've had to just put up with it. In our neighborhood.
"And now, worst of all, you're planning to build other structures in the backyard - housing for security, a bomb shelter, huge satellite dishes, maybe even a guest house ... who knows what else?
"We feel this is still our property, and we intend to have it again. You don't need it, and you keep adding things we don't want. We're seeking an injunction to prevent these additions.
"And one more thing. This is not a threat, just an observation. Our uncle Hermann was accused of running a Nazi camp; he told us it was a rest home for the elderly, the infirm, the undesirable. And we believe him. Yes, almost all of the people in his camp were Jews - but your husband gives us the impression he doesn't care much for those people or their precious Israel, so maybe we have that in common. But regardless, I'm just saying that, just as you found a way to buy this property, for less than its market value, we will find a way to reclaim it. It's ours, and we want it back."
Boone then added, by way of purported explanation:
The preceding is fiction, of course. But if it were true, how long do you think it would take President Obama to have this man dealt with, perhaps never to be heard from again? Do you think he or his wife would accept the man's claim, apologize, or stop their additions and maybe just deed the property over to him? No?
Well ... that's what Mr. Obama seems determined to force on Israel.
Sorry, it still doesn't make sense.
Meanwhile, the Newsmax version of Boone's July 10 screed against Elena Kagan deleted a veiled homophobic allusion to Kagan being an "otherwise nice woman who likes her softball."
Boone's column has been a reliable regurgitator of right-wing talking points, no matter how false or misleading. That same anti-Kagan column, for instance, repeated the highly misleading claim that Kagan "tossed military recruiters off campus." Boone's claim that as a college student Kagan "express[ed] sympathy for the plight of the Socialist Party" is similarly false; she merely wrote a historical examination about the decline of socialism in New York in the early 20th century.
Obama is a subject of particular scorn for Boone, but he typically has to distort or lie to keep up the level of venom he has exhibited toward the president.
A June 6, 2009, column -- republished three months later as Boone's sole NewsBusters entry -- illustrates Boone's end-justifies-the-means approach to bashing Obama. Boone begins with a series of out-of-context and manufactured quotes of President Obama in an effort to smear him as "a president without a country."
Boone quoted Obama as saying, "We're no longer a Christian nation," which he later responds to by writing, "America is emphatically a Christian nation, and has been from its inception!" In fact, Boone ignores the full context of Obama's statement, which highlights the diversity of America: "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation - at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers."
Boone also quoted Obama as saying that "America has been arrogant," suggesting he got the idea "during the 20 years you were a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ under your pastor, Jeremiah Wright." But there's no evidence Obama said that exact quote. Boone appears to be referring to Obama's speech in Strasbourg, France, in which he said that "here have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive." But Boone ignores that Obama said immediately afterwards that "in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad." Obama added that such opinions on both sides "are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated."
Boone served up another purported Obama quote: "After 9/11, America didn't always live up to her ideals." But like the previous statement, that's a paraphrase. It appears to be taken from Obama's speech in Cairo, and again, it's taken out of context:
And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.
So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.
Unencumbered by the facts, Boone repeated those very same out-of-context quotes in a column just two weeks later.
Boone went birther in a June 27, 2009, column by repeating a number of discredited claims. Boone wrote of the birth certificate released by the Obama campaign: "Some found the document, which does not list the hospital of birth or attending physician, to be fake." In fact, FactCheck.org has "seen, touched, examined and photographed" the certificate and declared to be authentic -- a claim that has not been credibly contradicted.
Boone also asserted that "some reported seeing a videotaped proclamation by his paternal step-grandmother that she was in the delivery room and saw Barack H. Obama born in Mombasa, in what is now Kenya!" In fact, the claim that Sarah Obama made such an assertion is bogus. Boone also forwards some baseless theorizing by the right-wing United States Justice Foundation that Obama's mother was "about to have her child in Kenya, had booked a flight to Hawaii but was prohibited from flying because delivery was so imminent." Neither Boone nor the USJF offered any evidence to back up this claim.
Boone repeated this claim in his Nov. 8, 2009, column, bashing Obama for his "steadfast refusal to provide to the public who deserves and wants it an actual copy of his birth certificate! Not the 'certification of live birth' that has been produced and accepted by a strangely gullible and meek Congress." Boone added: "It's an acknowledged fact that Barack Obama Jr. was born to an 18-year-old American girl and a Kenyan father, a British citizen. Some have seen an actual videotape, now strangely unavailable, in which the boy's fraternal grandmother describes being in the delivery room in Mombasa, Kenya, when young Barack was born."
There is no "actual videotape" of this. There is, however, a selectively edited audio clip of a phone call made to the grandmother by Anabaptist minister Ron McRae that leaves out the part in which it appears that the grandmother's misunderstood what McRae was asking and that, when asked more directly whether Obama was born in Kenya, the grandmother's answer is no. McRae has spread other dubious claims about Obama and is apparently opposed to race-mixing.
Boone spread more birther-related whoppers in his Aug. 21 column, such as claiming: "One of his close friends took him on a prolonged visit to Pakistan during those years, and the question remains about Obama's passport. If it was American, he would not have been allowed in Pakistan - so what was it?" In fact, Obama could have easily -- and, accepting the most likely explanation, probably did -- travel to Pakistan on a U.S. passport, since the State Department and the New York Times were advising Americans on how to do it.
Boone further claimed that Obama's "support team has spent close to $2 million suppressing all that information." That's not exactly true either; that money was paid to a law firm, and even WND, in the documentation it has provided to back up the claim, has offered no evidence that all of the money went to "suppress" information about Obama's birth.
Boone also used this column to declare that the White House has been turned into a mosque:
This isn't easy to write. It's not fun to say. It's virtually unthinkable to realize and acknowledge.
While the controversy still rises and rages on, around the proposed "Cordoba House" mosque and Muslim cultural center right on the edge of Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center stood till Sept. 11, 2001 - there is a world-famous building, dedicated by its current residents to similar purposes, in the middle of Washington, D.C.
We call it the White House.
To the contrary: Given Boone's hostility toward the president, it's unlikely that he had any trepidation at all in penning such a smear.
Boone's predilection for parroting false, misleading and outrageous claims is not limited to Obama:
- In a May 5, 2008, column, he wrote: "Consider: Every year, within our borders, an estimated 14,000 to 15,000 Americans are murdered, an alarming percentage by illegal aliens. That's more than 15 times the death rate in Iraq!" In fact, murder rates in the U.S. are much lower than the death rate in Iraq. According to the FBI, the national murder rate hovers between 5 and 6 per 100,000 people. ConWebWatch has previously noted that the overall death rate in the military in 2005 was 116.6 per 100,000 military personnel; given that most of those deaths occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan, restricting the pool to those military members who have served or are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan makes that death rate even higher.
Boone's vitriol hasn't stopped the endorsement gravy train. Boone recently announced plans to donate half of the royalty fee from licensing his name for a line of premium meats to right-wing groups such as the Parents Television Council and Focus on the Family.
Boone seems to be counting on people not seeing his mean, dark side. Or, perhaps, he's assuming that the audience that has grown old with him hates Obama as much as he does.
(Originally posted at ConWebWatch.)