Saturday, February 19, 2011

GOP: Birthers are Evil, but a Necessary Evil

Salon has quite a collection of posts and links to posts about the "birthers," those who believe that President Obama was not born in America and is, therefore, ineligible to be President. Their first post, "Karl Rove says birtherism is a White House trap," exposes Rove's desire to have it both ways, so that "Republicans who denounce birtherism don't have to take responsibility for the fact that Republicans [have] allowed it to spread far and wide:"
It is also in Rove's interest to downplay the number of birthers in the party. That poll of likely GOP primary voters that showed that a staggering 51 percent of them believe the president is a foreigner? That poll is also a liberal plot:

O'Reilly decided to rebut the PPP poll by showing the results of a CBS survey taken last year. According to this poll, 20% of Americans think Obama was born abroad and 58% think he was born in this country (the rest didn't know). Both O'Reilly and Rove seemed sanguine about this poll because, apparently, the idea that only one in five Americans is completely uninformed and another one in five cannot answer a simple question is somehow reassuring.

But as Isaac Chotiner points out, the polls do not actually contradict each other, because one is a poll of likely GOP primary voters and the other is a poll of everyone.

And, of course, Republican John Boehner, the Honorable Speaker of The House, is only pretty sure that the President is a citizen.

Birtherism has even driven one house of Arizona's legislature to introduce a bill that would require candidates for president or vice president to submit a birth certificate in order to appear on the state's ballot. And, that birth certificate must be a "long-form." What is a long-form birth certificate?

House majority leader Eric Cantor has said that he believes that Obama is a citizen, but has appeared on "Meet the Press" and "refused to call people who question Obama's citizenship "crazy," saying it's not nice to call anyone crazy."

When Sarah Palin answered questions at a recent Long Island Association event, "She said it was unwise for Republicans to keep doubts alive about the authenticity of President Obama's birth certificate and citizenship, saying: 'It’s distracting. It gets annoying. Let’s stick with what really matters.'” Isn't her statement remarkably like Rove's statement, which can be read in Salon's "Birthers" post, "We need the leaders of our party to say, 'Look, stop falling into the trap of the White House and focus on the real issues?'"'s Garrett Quinn writes, in his Less Is More column, "Birthers just won't go away:"
These recent developments provide an opening for some Republicans to confront this idiocy head on. Romney would be smart to distance himself from the birthers and their most popular candidate, Sarah Palin.
There is really a remarkable divide in how the birther and non-birther wings of the GOP view Sarah Palin. With the birthers she is a beloved figure, scoring an 83/12 favorability rating. Non-birthers are almost evenly divided on her with 47% rating her positively and 40% unfavorably.

In 2009 she walked back a comment on a radio show saying that she doesn't have a problem with Obama's birth certificate being an issue. Palin can speak from experience on this issue though as she was hounded by the spinning political compass of Andrew Sullivan over the birth certificate of her son, Trig.

Birtherism may solve a problem, however. In Hawaii, where Obama was born, a bill has been introduced that would allow anyone to buy a copy of his birth certificate for $100. It's a scheme to use birther hysteria to balance a budget.

Note: As I've re-read this post, I've become aware that it may not have a point, although it does have a purpose. It was interesting that Salon had a topic devoted to birthers, and the post provides a way to make a record of some links where some interesting information can be found. Rove's discussion with O'Reilly, in which they appear to be nonplussed that about 20% of the population is unprepared for modern life, is interesting. Jonathan Chait's post, "Bill O'Reilly and Karl Rove Fail Basic Math," written by Isaac Chotiner, was particularly interesting.

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