Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Various Villagers watch the video off Delaware's Mike Castle being shouted down by an Obama birther (and a highly sympathetic crowd) -- see the clip below -- and think it's actually a problem for the GOP. MSNBC's First Read:

...the real story in all of this is that Republican Party has a HUGE problem with its base right now. That some Republicans believe a man who won last year's presidential contest by seven percentage points is not the legitimate president is a base problem much bigger than Cindy Sheehan anti-war protestors or black helicopter conspiracy theorists who flock to some Ron Paul events.

Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic:

... What's most notable, to me, at least, is not how scared Castle looked or how passionately the woman argued for Barack Obama's foreign birth. It was the reaction of the audience, a good portion of which erupted into cheers and youbetchas.

...What we don't know is how widespread the belief is among Republicans -- and even if the belief is confined to a narrow minority, whether the belief will spread as Republicans begin to pay closer attention to electoral politics in 2010 and 2012.... Republican presidential candidates need to figure out how to diffuse angry birthers who are bound to show up and demand their attention.... Republicans have to be extra careful. If they give credence to the birthers, they're (not only advancing ignorance but also) betraying the narrowness of their base. If they dismiss this growing movement, they might drive birthers to find more extreme candidates, which will fragment a Republican political coalition.

Excuse me: since when has it ever been a problem for the GOP that Republicans believe crazy stuff? Half the base -- and many prominent Republicans -- believed Bill Clinton was a murderer and a drug dealer. Did having Jerry Falwell peddling Clinton Chronicles tapes hurt Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in Congress? Did eight years of GOP rumor-mongering keep George W. Bush out of the White House? For that matter, it's hard to argue that belief in creationism and dismissal of the idea that humans contribute to climate change ever hurt Republicans at the ballot box until perhaps the last two election cycles, and even then the willful ignorance of science was a small part of what was hurting them.

The Beltway always agrees not to hold the nutball theories of Republican voters against Republican pols -- presumably because they're seen as "heartland" theories, and it wouldn't do to talk trash about Joe Sixpack.

So, yeah, non-crazy Republicans will have to find a way to sidestep birther questions at town-hall meetings. But that's a problem they'll solve -- and meanwhile, as long as the birthers in the base don't actively call for Obama's assassination, or a violent assault on the White House to drive him out by force, trust me, they'll just be allowed to slide.

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