On Thursday, at a town hall event in New Hampshire, Donald Trump was confronted by an audience member who, when asking the candidate a question, described President Obama as a “Muslim” who “isn’t American.” Many members of the media were offended that Trump didn’t “correct” the man’s question.
Several Republican candidates and pundits took the media cue and have roundly criticized Trump for not defending Barack Obama’s religious views.
Speaking in Michigan Friday evening, Jeb Bush said, “By the way, [Obama]’s an American, he’s a Christian. His problem isn’t that he was born here or what his religion is.”
Asked on FoxNews whether Trump should have stood up for Obama, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said, “I do. I have in the past.” Rubio went on to say that Obama was a Christian and the issue of his religion was irrelevant.
On the Today Show Friday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie went even further:
I’ll tell you what I would do, and I wouldn’t have permitted that if someone brought that up at a town hall meeting of mine; I would have said, ‘No, listen. Before we answer, let’s clear some things up for the rest of the audience.’ And I think you have an obligation as a leader to do that.
It isn’t entirely clear what Christie meant when he said he “wouldn’t have permitted” the question.
South Carolina Gov. Lindsey Graham, appearing on MSNBC, also said Trump should have challenged the questioner.
President Obama, I don’t question his faith. I don’t question his patriotism. I don’t question his origin of birth. And when these things happen, you are not responsible for what the guy said, but you are responsible for how you respond.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich hasn’t yet commented publicly on the media scandal, but his campaign spokesman added that “I think it’s safe to say that the president is both American and a Christian.”
The media is focused solely on the part of the question in which the President’s religion was referenced. The full context of the man’s question, however, was about how Muslims are a “problem” in this country, and we might need to “get rid of them.”
The only real mistake Trump made here was not taking the opportunity to underscore that radical Islam is an existential threat to the U.S. and the West. The left and much of the political class has spent years trying to deny the existence of a radical and violent strain of Islam. As to any statements someone made about Obama, it has never been a candidate’s job to “correct” any individual’s opinion about a political opponent.
If Trump’s fellow GOP candidates feel compelled to hitch a ride on the latest outrage parade, this latter part of the question seems far more troubling than questions about the President’s religion. The media, however, can’t help itself but to rally to defend Obama against even the mildest perceived slight.
The fact that the media has obsessed over Obama’s religion, rather than the more problematic issues raised by the full question, is further evidence that the media’s moral compass is set to a true partisan north.
And, of course, many Republicans are too eager to abet the media’s outrage for some possible short-term points against their opponent. Christie, after all, was appearing on NBC’s Today Show. Sen. Graham slammed Trump on MSNBC.
Only Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal addressed the micro-scandal in the full context:
In America we proudly do not discriminate against anybody based on the color of their skin or creed, and that’s a great thing about America — and we shouldn’t. Those are our founding ideals and principles and they should always be that way.
Jindal went on to say that “Islam has a problem and that problem is radical Islam.”
None of the other GOP candidates did this. It wasn’t the full question they found offensive, rather than the fact that the media was offended. This is the bankruptcy of the Republican political class.