During the 2008 presidential campaign, admirers said that Barack Obama could be many things to many people. Since Obama took office, his political adversaries have put their own spin on that truism: Every week, it seems, there's a new instance of someone trying to attach a divisive label to the president, often with little regard to whether or not it makes any sense. The Obama team has officially refuted claims that Obama is a Muslim and that he's not an American citizen, but those are only some of the "Obama is an X!" charges put forth.
- Obama Is an Anti-Semite As the Wire covered earlier this week, one emergent strain of right-wing commentary holds that Obama hates Jews and Israel. The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg has little patience for this line of argument: "It is nuts to think that Obama is out to sink Israel somehow, to make it into a scapegoat for the sins of the world ... President Obama is a defender of Jews and a defender of Israel."
- Obama Is the 'First Jewish President' On the other hand, David Remnick at The New Yorker reports that "Abner Mikva, a former congressman, federal judge, and counsel to Bill Clinton, jokingly told the Chicago Jewish News during the campaign, 'I think when this is all over, people are going to say that Barack Obama is the first Jewish president.'" This suggests that it's not just Obama's detractors who like to slap sweeping labels on the president.
- Obama Is a Socialist A favorite cry of the far right, the Obama-socialism equivalence has formed the basis of entire two-hour Mark Levinshows. How much currency this idea has seems to depend on the 24-hour news cycle, but as a meme it will probably be some time before it dies out entirely. Ed Brayton of Science Blogs points out, though, there's a great deal of daylight between Obama and actual, self-identified socialists, even on the health care plan that drew so many s-word accusations.
- Obama Is the 'First Gay President' Not literally, explains FRC Action's Tom McClusky, but in the same figurative sense that Bill Clinton was the "first black president." McClusky, a blogger for the right-leaning Family Research Council, suggests that Obama has earned the title thanks to his "liberal policies pushing the homosexual agenda," such as hate-crimes legislation and the expansion of domestic benefits for same-sex couples.
- Obama Is the Antichrist A recent Harris Interactive poll gets eschatological, claiming that 14 percent of adults surveyed believe that Obama "may be the Anti-Christ." But Newsweek's Jeneen Interlandi points out that the Harris poll is close to junk science, as it poses leading questions to a self-selecting sample of respondents. When it comes to "surveys based on nonrandom samples," Interlandi writes, "the official policy at most news organizations.. is to ignore them. Not a bad idea."