How the Right Invented 'Barack X'

Can't win against the real Obama? Create a fictional candidate who's your base's worst nightmare.

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Have you met Barack X? He's the candidate that the political right has invented in a bid to win back the White House: a fictional president with no decipherable religion and questionable loyalties.

According to their dogma, Barack X is raising taxes, destroying the military, apologizing for America, waging war on religion and creating death panels that decide if you live or die.

HBO's Bill Maher described Barack X last month during the "New Rules" segment of his talk show, when he skewered the laughable link that conservative Newt Gingrich tried to make between the mid-20th-century, Chicago-born community organizer Saul Alinsky and President Obama. As Maher clarified, the president was 10 years old when Alinsky died, and the only thing the two men have in common is that they both "liked black people."

The lies that have characterized right-wing attacks on this nation's first African-American president have ranged from depictions of him as Hitler to the outlandish claims at recent Republican-primary debates that Obama voted for infanticide.

Rick Santorum -- who doesn't want to make "blah" people's lives better and refuses to accept women's contraceptive rights -- is convinced that the president is guided by some new "phony theology" not based on Christianity. Santorum also believes the president is a "snob" who dares encourage American youths to attend college.

Mitt Romney, who unwittingly admitted in a radio interview with Laura Ingraham that "of course the economy is getting better," has been performing his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act on the primary stump, with accusations that Obama's policies have "made the economy worse."

On any given Sunday, conservative pundits from Fox News to MSNBC can be found regurgitating lies as fact. Obama is either a radical secret Muslim or a secular socialist, hell-bent on destroying capitalism. He is painted either as an inexperienced community organizer -- who ought to show his college transcript -- or as a Harvard elite who, Santorum claimed, "thinks he's smarter than you."

The cognitive dissonance inherent in these fallacies is appalling at best and offensive at worst, especially when you consider that they are formulated by elected officials and political operatives who claim to love their country.

From the hand on the heart as "The Star-Spangled Banner" plays to the strategically placed lapel flag pin, Republicans have mastered the art of smoke screen politics, positioning themselves as the true patriots from "the real America." Anyone who is not in their camp is painted as the opposite: an outsider who can't be trusted.

E.J. Dionne Jr., the award-winning Washington Post columnist, recently addressed this phenomenon in a piece titled, "President Obama as an Alien": "Whatever our president is, he is never allowed to be a garden-variety American who plays basketball and golf, has a remarkably old-fashioned family life and, in the manner we regularly recommend to our kids, got ahead by getting a good education."

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