It was a defining moment of the 2008 election. When Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) corrected a woman at a town hall who referred to then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as an Arab, it seemed to mark the ebb of the lunacy that defined the election’s closing weeks.
Instead, the myths of Obama’s origins have persisted, years into his presidency. A recent poll from the University of California at Merced showed that 54 percent of Republicans believe that “deep down” Obama is a Muslim.
The White House, for its part, seems to be either fine no longer fighting this battle or outright welcoming toward it (for what it says about the administration's critics). The president still uses the misconceptions spread by his most insidious critics as a crutch for his comedic interludes. In a March appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, he cracked a joke about driving in Kenya; at the White House Correspondents' Dinner it was about praying to Mecca. This is material that you’d think would have been exhausted in the first term.
Elected Republicans, meanwhile, have basically tired of trying to correct those constituents who insist that the president is a Muslim, or Arab, or both. The latest evidence of such took place at a town hall event with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), where in the span of 10 minutes a man twice called Obama “a Muslim terrorist.” The senator didn’t bat an eye either time. Below is the video, which was passed along by a Democratic source.
Just how disappointed you are that Johnson didn’t make the same interjection as McCain did is probably correlated with your partisan disposition. That these moments still happen 6 1/2 years after the original is what’s truly depressing.