Just Plain Embarrassing

by Dan Quinn

The more he says, the worse he sounds.

Last spring at a Glenn Beck/Tea Party rally in his hometown, state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, called President Obama “God’s punishment on us.” Then recently Rep. Berman filed a bill in the Texas Legislature that would require a presidential candidate to submit an original birth certificate before qualifying for the ballot in the state. He justified the bill by calling into question whether President Obama is a native-born American citizen:

“This bill is necessary because we have a president whom the American people don’t know whether he was born in Kenya or some other place.”

Claims that President Obama isn’t — or hasn’t proven that he is — a natural-born citizen were debunked long, long ago. But the loony right won’t let it go. Monday night Rep. Berman further embarrassed himself on Anderson Cooper’s CNN news program, AC360, by repeating absurd claims about President Obama based essentially on deceitful rumors, Internet spam and ignorant blather from right-wing websites and crackpots. Talking Points Memo was watching:

One representative exchange came after Berman asked why no one has access to any of the President’s school records. “Why don’t we know anything about a president who has such a radical agenda?” he said.

Cooper asked him: “Have you seen George W. Bush’s transcripts from college?”

Berman replied: “I can see anything I want from George W. Bush.”

“Actually sir, you couldn’t,” Cooper fired back. “Under federal law the schools cant release that information.”

Berman, unable to respond to this, soon moved on: “Where are the president’s passports and his travel records that got him to Pakistan in the early 90s, when no U.S. citizen could get to Pakistan at all?”

Cooper replied: “What you just said is factually incorrect,” adding that Obama traveled to Pakistan in 1981 when Americans could still go there. “That’s just an internet rumor that you’re spreading,” Cooper said.

Religious-right groups — like Texas Eagle Forum — a few weeks ago were calling for Berman’s election as Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives in January. Berman is apparently not seeking that post now, and right-wing groups are instead backing Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, and Ken Paxton, R-McKinney.

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