Mitch McConnell’s Subtly Undermining Endorsement of President Obama’s Christianity

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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

With polls showing that nearly half of all Republicans in the country suspect that President Obama is a Muslim (despite ... everything), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has found a way to avoid joining in on the smear campaign without taking the steam out of it entirely. Here's what he said on the Meet the Press yesterday:


SEN. McCONNELL: The president says he's a — the president says he's a Christian, I take him at his word. I don't think that's in dispute.

MR. GREGORY: And do you think — how, how do you think it comes to be that this kind of misinformation gets spread around and prevails?

SEN. McCONNELL: I have no idea, but I take the president at his word.

See what he did there? While it's nice McConnell says Obama's faith is "not in dispute," his answer wasn't an unequivocal "The President is a Christian." It was, "He's telling us he's a Christian and I believe him." Recalling Hillary Clinton's remark during the presidential primary that she takes Obama "on the basis of what he says," McConnell leaves some room for doubt in the minds of anyone who doesn't generally take Obama at his word, which, in the GOP, is probably most people. By turning the issue not into one of facts and falsities but a sort of he-said-tea-said, McConnell's careful phrasing does little to quash it. But this is probably Obama's fault, right, Byron York?

McConnell's Dirty Pool [Jonathan Chait/New Republic]