Our Quote of the Day comes from The Daily Beast’s John Avlon, who also does commentary on CNN, writing about the birthers who are not — and never will be — satisified. He starts his column with this:
Conspiracy entrepreneurs are, by definition, shameless.
Nonetheless, it was impressive to see so many professional polarizers be forced to face facts—namely that the president was indeed born in the United States—and still find a way to weasel out of accountability.
There was no “sorry” or “my bad” or “apologies for dragging your name and our nation through the mud by encouraging unhinged birther conspiracy theories.”
Instead, Donald Trump declared “I’m very proud of myself, because I’ve accomplished something that no one else has been able to accomplish”—and, just in case anybody missed the self-congratulation, “ I really did a great job.” This is the political equivalent of lighting a house on fire, calling 911 and then expecting a medal.
The author of the spectacularly ill-timed and ill-titled Where’s the Birth Certificate? Jerome Corsi, tried to save face by moving the goal posts for marketing purposes: “Public pressure finally forced Obama to do what he did today. Now the game begins. Nixon thought he could stop the Watergate scandal from unfolding by releasing a few tapes. All that did was fuel the fire… When people read the book, they will see that Obama is not eligible to be president.”
Avlon gives some more examples.
And, indeed, the brazen, transparent desire of the birthers to hate for partisan and other reasons was out there for all to see,
Those who already agreed with the birthers wouldn’t see anything unusual.
But to independent voters? From famous birthers to Fox Business Channel anchor Eric Bolling who even after the document was presented started to spin theories that beg this theme song, it was clear that Donald Trump (helped profusely by talk radio hosts and Fox News which recently became Birther News) had forced a fringe hatefest into the mainstream media so it HAD to be covered because it was such a major synthetically-created story — a hatefest resting on zero facts and all partisan wishful thinking.
In the end, it became the quintessential prototype of how partisanship can create a new “reality” — a reality some will refuse to release even in the face of facts they demanded to see.
To some these days a “fact” is only that which benefits their party or ideology — and undermines the other.
Avlon notes how timid most GOPers were to put the birther business completely behind them and their party:
Leading Republican political figures notably did not take the opportunity to declare the birther conspiracy theory over and done —despite the long-term political benefit of getting this crazy uncle permanently back in the attic.
Instead, Mitt Romney released a short statement via Twitter criticizing the president for releasing the document: “What President Obama should really be releasing is a jobs plan.” Sarah Palin took a break from playing the victim to play blame-the-victim, tweeting “…Don’t let the WH distract you w/the birth crt from what Bernanke says today. Stay focused, eh?” (And what’s with the Canadian ‘eh’ tick, Ms. Real America?)
Perhaps it’s too much to hope that the smug, “I take the president at his word” sound bite offered by Republican leadership in recent months will now be replaced by a simple “the president was born in the United States and anyone who still thinks otherwise should consider seeking psychiatric help.”
If a book about the GOP’s more mainstream candidates and birtherism is written, it should be titled “Profiles in Non-Courage.” Avlon goes on:
The birther conspiracy theory should now be placed on the ash heap of presidential derangement syndromes that date back to at least the John Birch Society’s founder declaring President Dwight David Eisenhower a “dedicated, conscious agent of the communist conspiracy”—or, a Soviet spy. The sad difference is that back then William F. Buckley had the decency to denounce that fringe fear-mongering because he realized that it could discredit the entire conservative movement. Today, because the fringe is blurring with the base, conservative leaders seem afraid to confront the unhinged extremists in their midst.
He then traces paranoid, conspiracy theory politics during the Clinton years, as well as during the Bush administration with the “truthers” — who were anything but: they contended somehow Bush was involved with 911.
It’s worth noting, however, that the birther equivalent of the Bush years—the 9/11 “Truthers”—would never have been allowed to make such inroads into national debates or presidential politics in 2004 or 2008, by Republicans or Democrats.
That’s because the bar on our national discourse has been lowered so far that “WELCOME TO THE SOUTH POLE!” signs can now be seen when a talk show host, cable TV host, or member of Congress begins to talk.
Writers have written about the “dumbing down of America.” An even greater trend has been the Coarsening of America.
Many politicians, Presidential wannabes and political-entertainment figures now resemble trolls in blog comments sections who would be banned after two visits.
It’s politics seemingly copying cyberspace lack-of-art.
But there have been some voices out there that tried to put a halt to it, Avlon notes:
Part of the panic among responsible Republicans in recent weeks, Karl Rove among them, was recognizing that Trump had received a bump in the polls by pandering to the birther crowd. Polls that showed 51 percent of Republican primary voters doubted whether the president was born in the United States provided evidence of the real costs that came with encouraging Obama Derangement Syndrome for political gain—the inmates start to run the asylum.
Unfortunately, the paranoid style in American politics will endure. There will still be birthers populating the fringes of online discourse. The more enterprising will move onto new frontiers of conspiracy theory—such as Trump’s new effort to call into question the president’s academic record, an affirmative action dig that tries to deepen the narrative of Obama as a monstrous fraud. Some in the media will follow this line of questioning because it is “controversial,” while ignoring policy debates that will actually affect the future of our nation because they are considered too serious to be sexy.
History will be more unforgiving and see the birther conspiracy more clearly than we have in our contemporary debates. It will be hard to miss the fact that so much time and energy was spent trying to prove the illegitimacy and un-American-ness of our first black president. It will seem shameful. And it is.
And, if this trending is typical, and the bar keeps being lowered, then what is yet to come could be even worse.
So for the birthers the mantra that the long form certificate is forged goes on, the mantra suggesting that somehow Barack Obama was let into colleges and Harvard Law Review to fill a racial quota via affirmative action is the new line of attack. Oh. And I forgot. They say he has a fake social security number. (Stay tuned for the revelation that his CostCo card has expired..)
But to most thoughtful Americans — meaning, the bulk of Democrats, independents, and Republicans who aren’t buying this virtual perversion of the serious, issue-oriented conservatism once espoused by Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater in a far different Republican Party — when Obama produced the birther certificate it meant this: