Friday, February 8

Many voters believe Obama is a Muslim

Barack Obama has a problem. There are people out there who still think he is a Muslim, and they will refuse to vote for him because of it.

How many? I don't know of any polling data. But I know at least two people who insist that Obama is a Muslim -- and they'll never vote for a Muslim for president. They would vote for Obama if they believed he was a Christian, but they are positive that he is a Muslim.

Like you, I thought this Obama-is-a-Muslim story had been debunked more or less thoroughly. It hasn't. My first inkling of this came last week, when my conservative father-in-law mentioned Obama's prodigious fund-raising ability. Most of that $32 million raised in January, he said, "came from the Middle East."

Why did he think that? "Because he's a Muslim!" my father-in-law declared emphatically, in the same condescending tone that George Bush uses when he talks to his audience like they're all kindergartners.

"No, he's not," I said. "Obama belongs to the Church of Christ. He's a Christian."

"What are you talking about?" my father-in-law replied. "When he took office, he swore on the Koran, not the Bible. He's a Muslim, and if he's elected, he's going to let people in the Middle East call all the shots."

In the stunned silence that followed, my wife interjected. "My boss says he would vote for Clinton over McCain, but he would never vote for Obama because he's a Muslim."

Do you think these are the only two voters who have this mistaken belief? Me either.

The news about Obama's faith is not getting through to the Fox News audience -- even those Fox watchers who would be willing to vote for a Democrat instead of McCain. It's going to be difficult to push the truth past the gatekeepers of the right-wing media. The difficulty is compounded by the subtlety of the message: Obama isn't a Muslim -- not that there's anything wrong with that.