Sunday, August 02, 2009

Obama's birth, and the dumbest conspiracy theory on Earth

Have a look a President Obama's birth certificate. It's been verified by Hawai'i's Registar of Vital Statistics and by the state's Health Director as well. Need more evidence? Both Honolulu newspapers published Obama's birth announcement in 1961. A family friend of the Obamas who was living in Hawai'i in 1961 recently talked about her memories of Barack Obama's birth.

Unfortunately, some irrational people are still not convinced. Alan Keyes and Pat Boone for example. Or Congressman Roy Blunt. Or the majority of Republicans.


That's right, according to a poll, 28% of Republicans do not believe that Obama was not born in the United States, and another 30% are "not sure."

Am I surprised? No, I guess not. After all, these are the same people who've rejected the conclusive empirical evidence that the earth is billions of years old, and that mammals evolved from more primitive species. Heck, the same dailykos poll that asked about the birth certificate also found that only 24% of Republicans believe that America and Africa were once part of the same continent.

The relationship between the Republican leadership and the "birthers" is a complicated and stormy one. Congressman Mike Castle, one of the nicest people in the Republican Party, was trying to have a friendly talk with some senior citizens recently when he was interrupted by a birther who went a tirade in which she screamed at him for several minutes while waving her own birth certificate. But what's a sane Republican to do? After all, as the polls demonstrate, these people are not a minority fringe, they're the majority of the Republican faithful.

Furthermore, as much as the Republican leadership might claim that they'd like to put the issue to rest, in principle they like what the birthers are doing. As Ofari Hutchinson of recently noted,

"Republicans have a nice little con game going with the birthers. Here's GOP Chairman Michael Steele speaking recently. "The birthers are an unnecessary distraction." Steele blasted the birthers for giving the Democrats a brush to paint the GOP as a bunch of conspiracy driven wackos. Steele admonished the birthers to get over it and hit Obama hard on health care, the economy, the deficit; in other words to pound him on the issues that count. The problem with this is that it took Steele months to finally purse his lips to gingerly rap the birthers, and even then he delivered his criticism in a statement.

In fact, the last thing that Steele and other GOP top cats want is for them to go away. The more the media slams them, the more Democrats lampoon them, and the more respected GOP luminaries denounce them, this serves only to stir more internet chatter and right wing talk show gab that Obama may not be a true blue American."

One last observation. Republican Congressman Eric Cantor has come up with some great spin on the development of the birther movement. According to Cantor, it's a vast left-wing conspiracy! I kid you not. His office has released a statement saying that Cantor, "finds it ironic that those most eager to talk about the President’s citizenship are in fact some of his biggest cheerleaders–whether it’s Chris Matthews or others on MSNBC, the Huffington Post, or camera toting liberal bloggers chasing people through the streets of Washington."

Of course if that's what Congressman Cantor believes, then he and I actually have something in common: we both believe that the majority of Republican voters can be easily duped by a lot of nonsense.

Update 08/05/09:

US News and World Report has jumped on the "it's a left-wing media conspiracy" bandwagon.

"(S)ome conservatives argue that the media's interest in the "Birther" movement is biased and partisan, an effort to paint Republicans as nutty."

No additional effort is needed to paint Republicans as nutty, they're already doing a fine job of that all by themselves.

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