If a new Kos/Research2000 poll is correct, the Republican party — the once-proud party of thoughtful, policy-oriented conservatives such as Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan – could be morphing into the “birther party.”
Why does this matter? Because there needs to be at least a modicum of consensus in American politics and the birthers — egged on by conservative talk show hosts such as Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity (who still can’t stop talking about Reverend Wright) and the once-considered-mainstream but now tainted and increasingly ratings challenged CNN anchor Lou Dobbs — are clearly no longer a “fringe” element. Indeed, these poll numbers show the continued triumph of the talk radio political culture in shaping the attitudes of many Republicans, who are greatly influenced by what’s said by some hosts who they have come to consider to be good friends who talk to them three hours a day on the radio or for an hour on cable. But take note: some with microphones have not bought into the birthers, among them Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.
These results indicate that more and more many Republicans are separating themselves not just in policy but in perceptions (and evidence to the contrary be damned) from many moderates, independents and conservative Democrats — let alone liberal Democrats. If the birther movement grows, the Republican party will be danger of becoming the party of the political Grassy Knoll. The Politico:
A whopping 58 percent of Republicans either think Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US (28 percent) or aren’t sure (30 percent). A mere 42 percent think he was.
That means a majority of Republicans polled either don’t know about — or don’t believe the seemingly incontrovertible evidence Obama’s camp has presented over and over and over that he was born in Hawaii in ’61.
It also explains why Republicans, including Roy Blunt, are playing footsie with the Birther fringe.
Prediction: Look for more of the same and those GOPers who go too far in pooh-poohing the issue may eventually have to apologize.
Some 77 percent of Americans believe that, yes, Obama is indeed an American:
Surprise, surprise: Birther sentiment was strongest in the South and among the 60-plus crowd – presumably because seniors can’t log on to the Internet and rely on rumor, word of mouth and right-wing talk radio.
(UPDATE: The Headline of the Day on this story also comes from Daily Kos:Did Obama’s Birth Certificate Kill Vince Foster?)
Yet another sign of how the GOP is in danger of evolving into a regional political party. Clearly, this poll also indicates the birthers have NOT taken over the GOP — but it also shows how broadcasters hammering home negative material (even if it is sometimes this) can influence many Americans. And it shows a troubling evolution for the party: where will this lead in terms of dealing with other segments of the American polity, working with others in good faith to find real solutions — and in terms of the Republican party’s need to expand it’s base beyond what it and talk radio shows have now?
HERE ARE FEW OTHER REACTIONS:
Once again, Republicans find themselves outside the American mainstream. And reality.
And it has nothing to do with his race…What it also means – now that the GOP is an almost entirely Southern party – is that the Republicans cannot really take this on. 58 percent – a clear majority of Republican voters – either don’t believe or are unsure about whether Obama is legitimately the president of the United States.
I expect to be back with more when time permits, but briefly, I am in the “Show Us The Certificate” camp – what’s the mystery?….Let’s think big (in a small-minded way) – suppose the original certificate has Obama as “Barry”, with attendant documentation formally changing his name to “Barack” when Obama was in his teens or twenties. That would be a hard memory lapse to explain, and sort of mar the current version of his “Dreams From My Father” story.
Remember how the right got angry at the left for suggesting that George Bush wasn’t truly the president because he was arbitrarily chosen by the Supreme Court? And these yahoos can’t even come to terms with whether a president not of their choosing is anything other than an illegal immigrant.
Party-line breakdowns: Dems 93/4/3 (the last figure is “don’t know”), Indies 83/8/9, and GOP … 42/28/30. Fully 58 percent of Republicans aren’t willing to accept a state-issued Certification of Live Birth as proof that The One was born in Honolulu? I’m skeptical, but, er, not so skeptical that I’m willing to poll this myself at HA. Sounds like a job for Scott Rasmussen. How about it, Scottster?
—Brendan Nyan has a post with a graphic that needs to be run in full. Here’s one small part of it:
As you can see, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the number of correct responses is much higher on the citizenship question than the religion question. On the other hand, the proportion of incorrect answers is also much higher on the citizenship question among Republicans, which suggests that the encouragement of the birth certificate myth by conservative pundits and Republican politicians has begun to activate the GOP base on this issue. I’m not sure if Michael Steele is going to be able to make this “unnecessary distraction” go away any time soon.
If those numbers are accurate (and the DailyKos/Research 2000 polls aggregate in line with other major polls, so there’s no reason to immediately question the numbers), then this is a much more serious problem. As my colleague Dodd pointed out earlier this week, if less than half of Republicans believe that Barack Obama is a citizen, that makes it much more difficult for the Republican Party to put forth reasonable debate and opposition against the Democrats and craft sound policy proposals.
You just can’t focus on policy when 1/3 of your base wants you to focus on the crazy. You can’t craft sound bipartisan legislation by working with the President when a photo-op with him risks you votes in the primaries becaue 1/3 of your constituency doesn’t want you “working with foreigners” and thinks that the President doesn’t belong there.
Kudos to Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and the other conservative pundits out there who’ve been willing to decry the birthers. Hopefully more will follow suit. [In an Update he adds:]I am not interested in living in a one party state, but that’s what we’re going to have if the Republican base keeps dwelling on this nonsense.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.