Despite the crying need that so many of them have for strenuous psychological counseling, most Republicans claim to belong to the school of rugged individualism and mock the theories and therapies of Freud and his successors. Nevertheless, as devout members of the Church of Opportunism, they'll embrace the concept of Freudian slip with ardent fervor if it suits their purpose. That's why they're all over a 13-second sound bite from This Week with George Stephanopoulos in which Sen. Obama supposedly admits to his Muslim faith. It's a misrepresentation, of course, but when did that ever stop them?
The problem is simple: We just don't have enough punctuation in spoken English. And Barack Obama is too dignified to do “air quotes” even when he really should. (No one wants to be mistaken for Dr. Evil.) But as Victor Borge taught us long ago, rabbit ears can be our friend.
Here's a faithful transcript (including the candidate's peroration, truncated in the video) of the exchange between Obama and Stephanopoulos, as the latter insisted that McCain himself was not spreading smears against the Democratic standard bearer:
Obama: You're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my "Muslim faith" and you're absolutely right that that is not coming—But Sen. Obama did not hook his fingers in the air to underscore the sense in which he was citing “my Muslim faith”—a specious claim by GOP operatives and other members of the loony right—and thus we have a video clip certain to warm the bigoted cockles of many a shallow Christian.
Stephanopoulos: Christian faith.
Obama: My Christian faith. Well, what I'm saying he hasn't suggested that I'm a Muslim.
[Stephanopoulos: (overtalking) He's suggested connections, right.]
Obama: And I think that his campaign's upper echelons have not either. What I think is fair to say is that, coming out of the Republican camp, there have been efforts to suggest that perhaps I'm not who I say I am when it comes to my faith, something which I find deeply offensive.
Keep this in mind: Most of the Republicans who will cite the short version of the “Muslim faith” clip will know full well what Sen. Obama intended and what his statement meant. Therefore we should not hesitate to bestow upon them the title they so richly deserve: liars.
Notice I didn't put quotes around that.