IF THIS ISN'T THE TORCH-PASSING, THEN THE TORCH-PASSING WILL COME SOON
I've said that Donald Trump's birtherism matters not because he's really running for president (I don't think he is), but because he's showing other candidates how to catapult themselves into the top ranks as the GOP nominating contest approaches. Someone who actually is running will follow his lead, and all signs suggest that that will be a successful vote-getting strategy in the primaries.
So is Palin taking the torch from Trump prior to a run? Maybe, maybe not. Here she is on Fox yesterday:
Transcript of key quote:
PALIN: Well you know I think that he was born in Hawaii because there was the birth announcement put in the newspaper. But obviously if there's something there that the president doesn't want people to see on that birth certificate, that you know he sees going to great lengths to make sure it isn't shown, and that's kind of perplexing for a lot of people. But you know uhm again Donald Trump, he may get to the bottom of it, because he's spending the resources that probably will be necessary to do some investigation.
I don't really think this is the torch-passing because I've stopped believing that Palin will run. (I think she intended to, but she's met too much resistance and engendered too much bad feeling on the part of fellow Republicans).
But this is what's going to happen with some actual candidate: an unabashed embrace of birtherism, which, once Trump tells us he's not really running, will elevate the birther in the polls.
I think a cannier wingnut than Palin wouldn't express so much certainty about Obama's Hawaii birth -- Trump has actually hit the right-wing rage centers dead on, saying he wanted to believe Obama's story but doubts it more and more (the deeper you dig, the more evil Obama seems!), while hinting (as Palin does) that something's hidden on the long-form certificate. (This gets down to two possibilities: a designation as Muslim, even though, as noted even by National Review's Jim Geraghty in the update to this post, no religion was cited on long-form Hawaii birth certificates at the time, or some father, probably famous and/or counrercultural, other than Barack Obama Sr.)
Some candidate will match Trump's stance precisely, and it will be primary-vote gold.
Meanwhile, I'm actually starting to believe that Karl Rove is right when he says that Obama is enabling all of this as a strategy to make Republicans look silly. The problem is, like many of Obama's strategies, I don't think it's working all that well.
I seriously worry that, even if most Americans won't embrace full-tilt birtherism, this has the potential to suggest that Obama is a devious guy who, in some vague way, really does have something to hide. I'm not saying that that makes any sense -- I'm saying that Americans do tend to come to vague conclusions like that based on hints and intimations that are as dubious as these are ... especially when those hints and intimations are hammered relentlessly by Fox and talk radio, which are run by people who know what it takes to sway U.S. voters. (Short version: emotions, not facts or logic.)
I wish Obama would press Hawaii to release the damn thing -- preferably after a birther has won the Republican presidential nomination.