What can be more repulsive to independent voters — particularly those who were once Republicans or RINOS in their previous incarnations — than to watch Republican bigwigs try not to affirmatively answer that they think the birther movement can produce enough product to make a CostCo supply of peanut butter for a year? MSNBC’s Chris Matthews has a running battle with GOPers on his show, trying to get them to definitely jump off the Twilight Zone hyper-partisan bandwagon on this “issue” of whether Barack Obama was born in the U.S.
But one politician has notably bitten the bullet.
First there was Republican political maven Karl Rove who warned Republicans that the birther fixation and rumors discredit the GOP. Still, you didn’t see some of those (such as John Boehner) who explicity or tacitly embrace or enable birtherism jumping on Rove’s bandwagon (perhaps because Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity haven’t given their blessings to that yet and a PPP poll shows a large number of Republicans believe Obama wasn’t born in the US after a successful disinformation campaign).
But, in our political Quote of the Day, The Atlantic’s Joshua Green notes that Sarah Palin has stepped up to Rove’s plate:
Good for Sarah Palin…..At an event in Long Island yesterday, she said, “It’s distracting. It gets annoying. Let’s stick with what really matters.” Along with the fact that the charge simply isn’t true, pushing back against it benefits Republicans generally and Palin specifically. Rove understands that the quickest way to marginalize Republicans in the eyes of independents is to propagate this sort of nonsense. Palin seems to understand this, too. But the risk/reward calculus for her is a little different. The PPP poll takes pains to link Palin to the birthers (headline: “Huckabee tops GOP field, 51% are birthers and love Palin”), and it’s probably true that many of them are hardcore activists who support her. So taking a stand against birtherism could conceivably alienate them. But I still think it’s a smart move for Palin. If she decides to seek the GOP nomination, she’ll need to improve her flagging approval numbers with moderate Republicans and independents. Speaking out against birtherism is a good start and a clear signal that she doesn’t want to be aligned with the far-right fringe.
Is it too little too late? Even if so, that’s better than none and never. So to Green I say “Ditto”: Good for Sarah Palin.
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.