John A. Tures: No, Obama didn't 'rule' on Redskins

June 28, 2014 

It didn't take long after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled against keeping the trademark protection for the Washington Redskins for conservatives to jump all over President Obama, blaming him for the decision. Not only is the story about his involvement pushed by some conservatives completely false, but it will make people less likely to believe conservatives when they have a legitimate beef with Barack Obama.

• Myth #1: This challenge came about during Barack Obama's administration.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 1992, according to the Wall Street Journal (when Obama wasn't even in politics). A similar ruling was made by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on that lawsuit back in 1999 (when Obama was an Illinois state senator), according to the Wall Street Journal. It was overturned on appeal for a technicality in 2003. The refiling of the suit began in 2006, before Obama was in the White House.

• Myth #2: Obama's judges made the ruling against the Redskins.

Rush Limbaugh claimed that Barack Obama and his administration were responsible for the ruling.

"This is Barack Obama," Limbaugh wrote on his website. "One of the things in reporting out of Washington that has happened during this administration ... This is executive branch. All this stuff is coming out of the executive branch. All of this, well, tyranny. It's all coming from the executive branch, and Obama owns the executive branch. He is the executive branch. But yet it's never reported that way. It's never, 'The Obama administration today canceled the trademark ownership and registration the Washington Redskins.' No, it's the Patent and Trademark Office -- a nameless, faceless bunch of geeks. Wrong! Barack Obama's administration did this. Barack Obama's administration lied to you …"

Iowa Rep. Steve King, a GOP conservative, tweeted this, according to MSNBC: "Obama raids Redskins by weaponizing USPTO. Cancels Redskins logo! Free people will not tolerate a Kim Jong POTUS."

Actually, all three judges who ruled on the matter (it was a 2-1 vote) were Bush appointees, according to the Washington Times.

• Myth #3: Obama demanded that the Washington Redskins change their name.

Actually, Obama said he would "think about changing" the Redskins name if he owned the team, in his usual boring style that doesn't try to offend anyone, as reported by Fox News. He also refused to condemn Redskins fans, saying he didn't think they were trying to offend Native Americans. Wow … now that's a call to arms.

Conservatives are always asking me why people aren't holding Obama accountable for the NSA spying and the IRS investigation into the Tea Party and the lost emails. Well, when some conservatives are blatantly lying about Obama on such high-profile issues and blaming him for everything in America, it's harder to trust them when there's a legitimate constitutional scandal and they cry foul.

John A. Tures, associate professor of political science, LaGrange College; jtures@lagrange.edu.

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