While chatting with a Republican friend yesterday, I asked him jokingly if he was a birther now.
I was thinking of Dwight MacDonald's well-known quote from the 50s, often repeated: "We're all anti-communists now," which was a reaction to Stalin. It meant that one could readily admit the obvious truth, regardless of how zealously socialist one had been in one's youth (as Macdonald, former Trotskyist, had been).
My usually-reasonable friend shocked me, "I wish he [Obama] would just answer questions," he answered.
Oh dear God.
Answer questions about WHAT? My temper flared unexpectedly; I could hardly believe my well-mannered friend had been hanging out in the Area 51 of American talk-radio politics. What the hell is going on? ...John McCain, I sputtered, was born in PANAMA and nobody even mentioned it!
"John McCain isn't president now, or maybe they would," he replied, evenly.
Does anyone believe that?
Has any other president been expected to answer questions about whether they were born in the USA?
What are we going to do with these people?
The only thing that will totally satisfy them would be a Polaroid snapshot of a Hawaiian pediatric nurse holding up a baby Barack in a neonatal unit, under a sign that says "Welcome to Honolulu!" and a 1961 wall calendar.
Even then, I can imagine the birthers enlarging the Polaroid and deciding with various computer-aging technology: it isn't really him. Wrong biracial Hawaiian-born baby boy! (Lou Dobbs pointedly asks: Who is it really?)
The New York Times calls them fringe, but having once been on the (lefty) fringe, I know how fringe works. You just keep repeating the fringe-wisdom, until the people closer to the center pick up on it. Finally, the center-left or center-right latches on to it, and what is fringe is suddenly conventional wisdom and is treated seriously on "60 Minutes."
Or in the New York Times.
Well, maybe that's good, you say. A thorough investigation could put the matter to rest.
HA HA HA - are you kidding? Have you never seen Capricorn One? Do you know who the Sedevacantists are? Does anyone really believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone?
We are talking about FAITH, people, not facts. Faith transcends facts. Faith is about the need to believe.
From Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times (which is undoubtedly part of the liberal conspiracy):
And this hasn't mattered a whit to the birthers. They remain unconvinced. Of course they are. As I said, this is about FAITH.
There are no living family members to testify to the events of Aug. 4, 1961, at the Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu. The president’s parents are both deceased, as are his grandparents, who played a significant role in raising him.
But Mr. Abercrombie, who has represented Hawaii for nearly two decades in Congress, was a close friend of Mr. Obama’s parents, who were students at the University of Hawaii in 1961. The president’s father, Barack H. Obama Sr., was from Kenya, but Mr. Abercrombie said the suggestion that the Obama baby was born in Africa is an absurd impossibility.
“He was born in Kapiolani Hospital, right down the street from where I lived,” Mr. Abercrombie said. “They had no money. I can’t imagine how they would get to Kenya. It makes no sense at all. It’s an insult to his mother.”
Questions have been swirling around about Mr. Obama’s biography — largely on the internet and on conservative radio and television broadcasts — since shortly after he announced his presidential bid in early 2007. They were researched by his Democratic and Republican opponents alike, all of whom determined there was no legitimacy to the speculation that Mr. Obama was born in Kenya.
To satisfy the doubters, the Obama campaign released a copy of his Hawaiian birth certificate during the presidential race. But the fact that it was a copy and not the original, which according to Hawaii law cannot be released publicly, did not quell the furor. So the director of the Department of Health in Hawaii, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, released a statement last fall, and again last month, attesting to the authenticity of the president’s birth.
Zeleny mentions the recent skirmishes on MSNBC, which have given the birthers a platform--ostensibly to make them look like conspiracy-theory-wackos. Unfortunately, any time you give fringe-folks a platform, you increase their respectability and influence.
The number of birthers increases every time they get press and media.
I suggest the Capricorn One strategy: reduce these people to buffoons and laugh-a-minute conspiracy-theorists. Giving them a "fair hearing" has been completely wrong. Can we start talking about how the moon landing was faked, too? (And how about the Holocaust?) Will people be allowed on mainstream cable TV news-shows to discuss those views? And why not? I've heard those theories my whole life, why can't they get some exposure to the masses?
Orly Taitz, a California dentist and lawyer who is among the leading voices in the anti-Obama movement, made her case in a combative interview on MSNBC.
“Obama is completely illegitimate as a U.S. president for two reasons — not only because he did not provide the place of his birth, but also because both parents have to be U.S. citizens,” Ms. Taitz said. “His father was never a U.S. citizen. He was in the United States on a student visa.”
The White House, awash in several real political challenges, has largely ignored the noise. Last week, the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, was asked by a liberal talk radio host, Bill Press, whether there was anything the White House could do to satisfy the critics and make the issue go away.
“No, the God’s honest truth is no,” Mr. Gibbs said, calling it “made-up fictional nonsense.”
“If I had some DNA, it wouldn’t assuage those who don’t believe he was born here,” Mr. Gibbs said as anger welled in his voice. “The president was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the 50th state of the greatest country on the face of the earth.”
Because they are CRACKPOT BULLSHIT, is why. Leave the search for Erich von Däniken's alien ancestors to the Scientologists and the goofier cable channels, okay? There is no reason to litter up REAL NEWS STATIONS with stories of why the moon landing was faked.
Please stop fueling this. Stop the insanity!
Oh, and Happy Birthday, Mr President. Truly, you are Leo personified. Have a wonderful 48th year.
More on what I have decided to label the Capricorn One faction of the GOP:
Elected Birthers on the Hill (Huffington Post)
Anti-Obama 'birther' movement gathers steam (UK Guardian)
Obama Citizenship Poll: Things Get Weird In The GOP Base (The Atlantic)
How fact-free claims about Obama's citizenship gained mainstream currency (KansasCity.com)