Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Republican congressmen try to straddle right wing "birther" sideshow

Remember the days when conservatives used to smugly tell the rest of the country that it was unpatriotic not to trust the president, because, well, he was our president? Yes, indeed, those were the days.

Now that we've got a new president, who was actually legitimately elected and not picked for the job by the United States Supreme Court, fringe right wingers are falling over each other to see who can scream loudest that our new president wasn't born in America. How do they know? Well, um, er, uh, hmmm... they don't, but they claim he can't be, because... well, perhaps it's best to let them explain in their own words, since I'm having trouble paraphrasing this nonsense:
I want to go back to January 20th. Why are you people ignoring his birth certificate?

He is not an American citizen...He is a citizen of Kenya... I don’t want this flag to change. I want my country back!
That's from an unidentified woman at Delaware Republican Representative Mike Castle's recent town hall, who was loudly applauded and cheered by a bunch of old right wingers. Castle looked somewhat bemused, and was forced to say, "If you’re referring to the president, he is a citizen of the United States."

Which, of course, drew boos.

But it doesn't stop there. Here's a post from FreeRepublic (which I won't link to; those who want to read the silly comment thread can search for it).
The “birth certificate" issue is tangential. If it were produced I, personally, would "trust but verify”. My point is, however, that the certificate itself is irrelevant. Barry Soetoro is the son of a British subject. He lacks "singular allegiance" to the United States of America. The only citizens excused from this requirement were those living at the time of the signing of Constitution. Accepting Mr. Obama as POTUS opens the door for any foreign despot (Putin, Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-il, etc.) to father a child in America and purchase (usurp) the leadership of the United States for that child in due time. The Founders took precautions against that possibility, and we would be wise to enforce them.
Ordinarily, this bile would sort of simmer in the various corners of the Republican Noise Machine, but it's now not only being served up by Rush Limbaugh, but by the likes of CNN's Lou Dobbs as well.

(Dobbs, incidentally, should be fired for legitimizing this nonsense; it was discredited on his own show by one of his CNN colleagues, and Dobbs was ridiculed on The Daily Show over it. But CNN's corporate leadership is gutless, so...)

Anyhow, Firedoglake decided to send Mike Stark out to Capitol Hill to find out if there are Republican congresscritters who are "birthers" (that's the term that's been coined to describe these crazies who don't believe Obama is an American citizen). And, sickeningly, it turns out that yes, there are:
Check out this video: several Republican Congressman tell me they don't believe Barack Obama is an American. Several dodge the question. Others offer weak-tea justifications for kinda-sorta believing Obama is a natural born citizen, Constitutionally fit to hold the office of President of the United States of America. Only one, Trent Franks of Arizona, gives a correct and clear answer, but even he can't help himself from suggesting that Obama is facilitating Jihad and turning America into a socialist state.
Appearing in the video are our very own Republicans Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dave Reichert, who, back in January, said he was "on board" with President Obama's agenda. McMorris Rodgers, trying to evade the camera, would only say, "We’re all going to find out..." and "Oh, I’d like to see the documents," when pressed by Mike Stark. She refused to say anything more.

Reichert tried to dance around the question, for reasons I can't fathom. (Does he not realize that a majority of his constituents voted for Obama!?)

"I believe he is a natural born citizen of this country until proven otherwise. I want to see the evidence," Reichert told Stark.

Reichert is evidently not watching enough cable television. CNN (with the exception of Lou Dobbs) and MSNBC have thoroughly debunked the birther conspiracy. But still Reichert says he needs to see "the evidence". Yeah, just like he needs to "investigate" whether the climate crisis is caused by human activity.

It's alternatively sad and amusing to watch Republican congresscritters try to straddle this conspiracy by trying to stake out some "middle ground".

Incidentally, this whole birther conspiracy illustrates the idiocy of the moderate myth: the idea that all political views in America can be arranged on a left to right or right to left line, with the cool-headed, or "moderate" folks in the "center". Republican congresscritters are trying to have it both ways by not explicitly disavowing the birther nonsense or wholeheartedly embracing it. They are, in essence, trying to play the old game of placing themselves in the "center" (because that's what reasonable people do...) but in a completely absurd context.

If the moderate myth was not so widespread in our politics, perhaps this kind of nonsense would not get so much airtime.

There is no middle ground and there are no scales concerning the issue of Barack Obama's citizenship. Barack Obama is an American, through and through. He was born on American soil in an American hospital in an American state. His birth was announced in American newspapers. He is - unquestionably - an American.

The "evidence" has already been produced.

There really isn't anything more than can be done to satisfy the people who don't believe the truth. Facts mean nothing to them since the facts do not fit into their frame. The frame stays and the facts bounce off.

They are going to go on stupidly believing this myth, possibly for the rest of their lives, which is a very sad thought.

In the meantime, the sideshow that they have created has seemingly morphed into a snake that has wrapped its coils around the Republican Party. Sane Republicans have busied themselves trying to quell the birther nonsense as best they can; a number of conservative bloggers have groused that the conspiracy is sucking up oxygen and causing trouble for various right wing political initiatives.

Eventually, people like Lou Dobbs will get tired of propping this up and move on. Ratings are ratings. Until then, this pathetic sideshow will go on.


Post a Comment

<< Home