Steve Benen writes From silly smear to public policy about some dumb things in the new spending bill
Yes, right before Thanksgiving, some far-right media outlets began pushing a blisteringly stupid smear: the Obama administration had decided to ‘close’ the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican. Almost immediately, Republican lawmakers, officials, and candidates pounced, taking the reports seriously, and throwing over-the-top tantrums about President Obama’s ‘anti-religion pursuits.’ They were spectacularly wrong. The Obama administration, implementing a plan crafted by the Bush/Cheney administration, intended to move the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican into the same building as the U.S. Embassy to Italy. It would mean the diplomatic outpost would actually be physically closer to the Holy See, while saving taxpayer money and improving embassy security. Other countries have done the same thing, and the church didn’t care in the slightest. The entire smear lasted about a day, before vanishing into the ether. Except, it didn’t actually disappear because Republicans included a provision in the spending bill to prevent the embassy move. The new policy would save money, but for the GOP, that doesn’t matter. It would improve security, but that’s irrelevant, too. What matters is that right-wing media came up with a silly idea, and now the congressional response to the nonsense will be federal law."