Thursday, April 28, 2011

Birther Breakdown

Yesterday should have been Christmas morning for dedicated stalwarts of the increasingly embarrassing "Birther" movement (as if further embarrassment was even possible for that bunch). The White House's release of President Obama's longform birth certificate, long heralded as a Rosetta Stone by the Birther crowd, should have put to rest any notions that Obama's ascension to high office wasn't legitimate. But of course, we all knew even before the document was released that it wouldn't change the Birther calculus one iota. Conspiracy theories have a funny way of circling back, forth, and sideways on themselves, creating such an impenetrable knot of fear and suspicion that anything debunking said conspiracy merely becomes more proof of said conspiracy.

Nowhere is this more apparent then in Donald Trump's impromptu presser, wherein he not only took credit for singlehandedly pressuring the White House to put the birth certificate out there, but then seamlessly pivoted to questioning how someone like Obama could possibly get into prestigious institutions like Columbia and Harvard. The ugly racial undertones of Trump's words, left unstated, were nonetheless clear as day, both to those who admire Obama for all he's accomplished and to those who resent him for that same thing. Nowhere is this more apparent than Joseph Farah's crackpot WorldNetDaily website, the leading edge in Birther mania from the very beginning, which is even now desperately crafting new arguments to bolster its non-existent case.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the queen of the Birthers herself, human cartoon character Orly Taitz, who breezed right past addressing the birth certificate release at all, and instead talked up yet more mythical proof of Obama's mythical fraudulence in a manic, nonsensical appearance with Lawrence O'Donnell that finally prompted the exasperated MSNBC host to yank her off his air. As Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall helpfully catalogues for us, the release of the full birth certificate, far from putting the Birther myth decisively and definitively to rest, has only further fueled their desperate, pathological pursuit of some -- any! -- way to delegitimize this president and this presidency.

Thus has the Birther movement laid bare the ugliness that underlies it, dismantling what little doubt was left. Whether Trump, Farah, Taitz or the twenty-some percent of Republican voters proudly marching to the Birthers' drum, these sad, desperate people are so unwilling to accept a vision of America expansive enough to elect a president named Barack Hussein Obama -- whether because of his race, education, or some other ill-defined "otherness" -- that they'd rather believe in a nebulous, insidious plot that stretches back several decades and involves several parties on several continents, because doing otherwise means facing the simple, unavoidable reality that the rest of the country has long since moved on from the prejudice and hatred they embody.

1 comment:

cease ill said...

The good news is that the latest polls we've seen have dropped that number to 14 % for Republicans-but it was a focus poll and not a general sample.

"Cartoon character" indeed.

Guess Birtherism is a much easier pinata than taking a whack at income inequity or contributing to reducing a still-high unemployment number, but it has no candy inside. I feel sometimes like Washington absolutely cannot cooperate on anything that will give the President credit, but that goes double for those with basically no public accountability.