ON BIRTHERISM, IS ROMNEY JEALOUS OF OBAMA?
After a lot of talk about Mitt Romney's bizarre infatuation with Donald Trump, we got something we weren't asking for last night: the release of Mitt Romney's birth certificate (or at least a 2012 copy of it -- remember how a modern copy of Obama's birth certificate wasn't good enough for the birthers?). I was as baffled by the Romney camp's decision to release the certificate as I have been by his Trump fixation -- but when I started to read the Reuters story about the release of the document, I began to suspect a strategy on Team Romney's part:
Romney's birth certificate evokes his father's controversy
...So on a day when real estate and media mogul Donald Trump was trying to help Mitt Romney by stirring up a new round of questions about whether Democratic President Barack Obama was born in the United States, Romney's own birth record became a reminder that in the 1968 presidential campaign, his father had faced his own "birther" controversy.
... Records in a George Romney archive at the University of Michigan describe how questions about his eligibility to be president surfaced almost as soon as he began his short-lived campaign.
In many ways, they appear to echo today's complaints that Trump and some other conservative "birthers" have made about Obama....
In George Romney's case, most of the questions were raised initially by Democrats....
As early as February 1967 - a year before the first 1968 presidential primary - some newspapers were raising questions....
Is the campaign of the famously father-obsessed Mitt Romney feeding the press not only the birth certificate but the sob story? Is that why Romney and his people thought they could withstand any negative press from Trump's birtherism -- because their plan all along was to say, "Hey, Mitt Romney's father was the victim of birthers, too"?
Are they jealous of Obama's birther problem? Do they think it wins him sympathy? Do they want some of that sympathy for themselves?
Elsewhere in the press, I see suggestions that -- wahhhh! -- Mitt himself is a victim of birthers, although there's scant evidence. A New York magazine blog post is headlined "In Unexpected Twist, Birthers Turn Against Romney" -- though no birthers are identified who are actually turning against Romney. We do, however, get a quote from Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, who said, before the release of the birth certificate, that there was debate out there among the rabble about ... whether Romney's middle name is Mitt or Milton. Um, really? Is this a burning issue, even among crazies?
Yesterday, Milbank published a column referencing the Mitt/Milton question, and also mentioning a joke site suggesting that Romney needs to prove he's not a unicorn.
I think the Romney camp wants this discussion, out of the hope that it neutralizes the question of birtherism altogether -- if both sides can point to a history of victimization, the Romney's backers (including Trump) aren't especially crazy and Obama's not being singled out.
Am I crazy to see that as the strategy? If so, feel free to tell me why.