Friday, December 04, 2009


Palin a birther? Is this what finally marginalizes her?

Nahhh, I doubt it. First of all, she can spin what she said to radio talker Rusty Humphries as Birtherism Lite:

Would you make the birth certificate an issue if you ran?

I think the public, rightfully, is still making it an issue. I don't have a problem with that. I don't know if I would have to bother to make it an issue 'cause I think there are enough members of the electorate who still want answers.

Do you think it's a fair question to be looking at?

I think it's a fair question, just like I think past associations and past voting record -- all of that is fair game. You know, I've got to tell you, too: I think our campaign, the McCain/Palin campaign didn't do a good enough job in that area. We didn't call out Obama and some of his associates on their records and what their beliefs were and perhaps what their future plans were...

Worst case, she'll say she's not drawing any conclusions one way or another -- she's just askin'. (UPDATE: Palin re-asks the birther question while simultaneously denying she's being a birther on her Facebook page.) Oh, sure, David Brooks and Kathleen Parker will roll their eyes. Maybe a few more people on the right will migrate into the anti-Palin camp. But I don't think the loss of a few pundits is going to hurt her -- if anything, it'll make her seem more mavericky, more the scourge of entrenched Georgetown-cocktail-party interests.

And she cleverly links it to Ayers/Wright/etc., which will play beautifully with her base. (Pay no attention to the fact that Bill Ayers is now in the streets protesting Obama's Afghanistan policy.) What's more, she works birtherism into one of the most effective rhetorical stances possible if you want to appeal to the right-wing crazy base -- self-pity:

I mean, truly, if your past is fair game and your kids are fair game, certainly Obama's past should be. I mean, we want to treat men and women equally, right?

Hey, you know, that's a great point, in that weird conspiracy-theory freaky thing that people talk about that Trig isn't my real son. And a lot of people say, "Well you need to produce his birth certificate! You need to prove that he's your kid!" Which we have done. But yeah, so maybe we could reverse that and use the same [unintelligible]-type thinking on them.

May I take this opportunity to say thanks a freakin' lot, Andrew Sullivan? Please, Atlantic, just fire him. I don't care if he's on our side on other issues. He's giving this abhorrent person the moral high ground and an excuse to encourage more conspiratorial thinking.

In this interview, once again Palin seems like to me like Madonna in her prime -- just as Madonna would discover an established subculture (vogueing, S&M) and introduce it into mainstream mall-rat culture as the hot new thing, here's Palin trying to mainstream birtherism. Marginalize Palin? I think it's just possible this will have the opposite effect -- I think it may add birtherism to creationism and global-warming rejectionism as perfectly acceptable stances for mainstream GOP politicians. I think there may well be a birther question asked sometime in the 2012 GOP primary debates, like the evolution question in the last go-round -- and, possibly thanks to Palin, a significant number of the candidates onstage will proclaim themselves birthers.


UPDATE: I mentioned Palin's Facebook follow-up in the update above, but I think my response to it was hasty. Now I'm thinking that Palin's pointing to a way to mainstream birtherism without seeming to endorse it:

So the question now becomes one of free speech -- should people be allowed to ask this? (Hey, do you know of anyone who's being clapped in irons for asking about the birth certificate? Me either.) It's also one of alleged fairness. David Weigel addressed that this morning --

The lesson she’s taken from the experience is not that conspiracy theories are out of bounds. It’s that if they are going to be conspiracy theories about her, there might as well be conspiracy theories about her political enemies.

-- but I'd put that differently: she's saying that if there are going to be conspiracy theories about her, silence with regard to Obama conspiracy theories can only be the result of a repressive, fascistic double standard. This is about freedom, dammit! The freedom the jackbooted liberals want to deny real Americans! That's catnip to wingnut voters.

AND: Weigel follows up by noting comments to the Facebook post; as he puts it, "Palin Walks It Back, But the Fans Won't Have It." (The Freepers and Fox Nation crowd also seem to be disregarding the walk-back. Will this embolden Palin to stop hedging and just go for it? Or is this the ideal have-cake-and-eat-it approach?

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