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As you may have heard, there is among certain people a controversy as to whether Barack Obama was really born in the United States. They generally believe that Obama’s certification of live birth and the confirmation of Hawaii’s State Department of Health are either bogus or insufficient. When lawyer Philip J. Berg demanded better proof of Obama’s citizenship before the November election, he had little evident support, but in these early months of the Obama Presidency some Republican politicians, talk show hosts, and of course rightbloggers have taken up his cause, and for that have been granted the derisory cognomen “birthers.”
To be sure, some prominent conservatives have dismissed the birthers’ claims, and even those GOP officials who have entertained them seem disinclined to to go to the wall for them. Despite a poll showing an ominous level of support among Republicans for the notion that the President is an undocumented alien, there’s little hope at present for a serious groundswell of birther agitation, aside from some “citizen grand juries” summoned by the more creative sort to defenestrate the usurper.
But while the birther movement has its diehards, many rightbloggers enjoy roiling their concerns just to cloud Obama’s reputation. They present themselves as birther agnostics — observers who don’t necessarily believe the charges, and sometimes take pains to distinguish themselves from the birthers, but find in the very existence of the controversy proof Obama has something to hide.
National Review‘s Mark Krikorian, for example, stated “the whole birther thing is lunacy” — then quoted an email asserting that “we do know that there are things Obama tried to hide, such as his association with Jeremiah Wright and Father Pfleger as well as William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Do his records reveal other questionable associations or statements?… Why is Obama getting a pass when other presidents do not?” While we are unaware that other presidents have had their birth records so tirelessly questioned, context suggests the lesson the correspondent draws from the birther investigation is that Obama is untrustworthy.
William Teach at Right Wing News rose to “point out one more time, I believe Obama was born in Hawaii, is considered to be a natural born citizen, and has every right to be president.” However! “I suspect there is something embarrassing on the certificate of birth (versus the short Certification of Live Birth) that he doesn’t want people to see, hence the lawsuits.”
Independenteyesonamerica’s Blog said, “It’s good practice to take a person at his word until someone shows you proof he is lying. Barack Obama says he was born in Hawaii, and since no one has shown any proof he was born in Kenya or elsewhere, it’s OK to conclude he was born in Hawaii.” But Questions Remain! “You have to admit though, even if you are a devout Obama-bot, Obama’s refusal to release any original documents makes for a newsworthy story by itself.” Therefore, “the Birther movement is Obama’s fault for not releasing the records.”
The liberal media are also to blame, said Nebraska Redneck. He finds the “‘birther’ saga… old news, frankly.” But “What’s fascinates me is the timing of the MSM’s interest in the story… Is the MSM genuinely interested in answering the questions about Obama’s birthplace, or do they sense another opportunity to ridicule and marginalize the Right?” Besides, “Obama’s little, inconsequential lies add up to one big lie. How can anyone believe anything this guy says?” Finally, he repeated some of Andrew McCarthy’s birtheristic charges, showing a revived interest in the “old news” of birtherism.
Tom Maguire of Just One Minute has kept busy showing that opponents of birtherism are not making their case. When Josh Marshall said he’d “never seen any serious argument that the child of an American citizen, even if born abroad, isn’t him or herself a natural born American citizen,” Tom Maguire pounced: “How hard did he look?” When Marshall admitted in an update there were “lacunae the birthers hang their hat on,” which he nonetheless found far-fetched, Maguire presented this as evidence of the press’ incuriosity about liberal malfeasance: “The media did no job at all prying into the John Edwards love-child debacle, and they didn’t even love him.”
Elsewhere Maguire split hairs with David Weigel on the question of motive for faking Obama’s Americanism, and with a National Review editorial that offered a qualified denunciation of birtherism on the available evidence (“It is known as a ‘Certification of live birth,’ aka the short form. A ‘certificate of live birth,’ aka the long form, has more information… National Review ought to care because getting this detail wrong will leave folks wondering whether they have been following the debate and doing their homework”). Eventually Maguire said that people who did not credit the conspiracy to place an illegal in the White House were “True Believers” who, unlike the inquisitive birthers, simply took on faith that Obama is an American citizen, and stubbornly remained willfully ignorant of all the innuendo suggesting otherwise.
Throughout his posts, Maguire emphasized that he is not one one of those people — “My point – as to what actually transpired, how would I know?” “Do I think that is the percentage bet? No,” “I have no idea what actually happened in 1961,” etc. — and proclaimed that “I am in the ‘Show Us The Certificate’ camp – what’s the mystery?” Of course, Obama could produce Long Form, Longer Form, and Still Longer Form certificates and eyewitness testimony from an obstetrician, and it would do no good — not with such dispositive evidence as Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate floating around the internet, and rightbloggers treating it more seriously than officially-released documents, despite its problems.
Lame Cherry was sold: “Paper color is correct, as is age of coloration, wear on the ribbon ink of the font. This document matches exactly what it should look like having been generated in 1964 and held in files for this long for ‘safekeeping.'”
“The provenance is not known because the anonymous source is afraid for their life,” Citizens Against Pro-Obama Media Bias informed us. The anti-birther true believers will kill to keep this wisdom down — just like enemies of truth in the past! Rumblings had many reasons to believe, including this: “Second, notice also that Obama carefully avoided Kenya on his recent trip to Africa. Again, why? Why go out of your way to avoid stepping foot on the soil of your father’s — and maybe your own — birth?”
But some rightbloggers saw problems — not with the alleged Kenyan proof, but with a world that is not sufficiently in tune with their vision.
Macsmind certainly finds the alleged Kenyan document interesting, but despairs that “it may not matter as no court will remove or invalidate Obama’s presidency out of fear of an constitutional crisis.” “Will everyone who looks at this paper be branded a ‘racist?'” asked Mcnorman’s Weblog.
Still, some held out hope. “I’m not going to pretend that I have the skills to authenticate this document–even if it was right in front of me,” said Marathon Pundit, “but the birth certificate controversy is getting curiouser and curiouser.”
“Speaking only for myself, I have NO IDEA if this is valid or not. It may just be a complete fabrication,” said Evil Conservative Radio. “But as Obama plaintiff Charles Kerchner said, ‘it’s at least as valid as Obama’s online COLB’ being waved around on MSNBC and held by Factcheck.org.”
Alan Peters’ News Views quickly found a related conspiracy — “OBAMAISTS TRY TO DISCREDIT KENYA BIRTH CERTIFICATE WITH A SIMILAR BUT FALSE KENYAN ONE- FOR ANOTHER HOAX.” We’re not sure what he means, except that Questions Remain and this latest edition of the birther story will live on until the next one. It almost makes us grateful for the unrelated, free-associative Obama investigations of Atlas Shrugs (“Why not tell the truth about Obama and his reported strange sexual predilections… Why isn’t CNN pursuing the nude pornographic photos of Obama’s mom…”). Alas, unlike Nebraska Redneck, we have not the liberty to ignore “old news” while the rightbloggers keep finding fresh ways to serve it up.