Friday, April 15, 2011


DougJ wonders whether birtherism could go mainstream:

Remember how four or five years ago, Republicans like Newt and Pawlenty were talking about how important global warming was and so on? Then when it became clear that the base didn't want to believe in global warming, they decided they didn't believe it in either (with possible caveats, e.g. "it's getting warmer but it's not man made"). Why couldn't that happen with birtherism?

My instinct is that this won't happen, at least in pure form -- though I'm not sure why. I'd say it was because big corporations have no vested interest in the fairytale, as they do with climate change denialism -- but big business has no vested interest in evolution denialism, and that's rife in the GOP. So there must be another explanation.

The only reason I can see that this wouldn't happen is that too many right-wingers have taken the "wrong" (i.e., factually accurate) side of the issue -- just in the past week we've had both Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly reiterating their opposition to birtherism. They got it into their heads a while back that this was a loser issue for them, and distancing themselves from it is just a hard habit to break. I think they won't flip-flop, but that's the only reason why, as far as I can see.

On the other hand, there are multiple variations on birtherism, mostly concerned with possible embarrassing information on the original document (even if such information wouldn't actually be on the document), or with wildly exaggerated claims about how much Obama has spent to allegedly conceal the damn thing. But even Birtherism Lite hasn't been widely embraced on the right -- so far, at least. (UPDATE: classicliberal2's criticism in comments is valid -- it has been widely embraced by the right-wing rank-and-file, less so by prominent righties.)

This is where birther bills, like the one that just oassed the Arizona Senate, come in. If enough of these become law, "responsible" right-wingers might just start playing the Tenth Amendment card, arguing that, yes, the states do have a right to determine eligibility to appear on their ballots, even in federal elections, and while we responsible people may have serious doubts about the appropriateness of these laws, they are in force and the president simply must comply. He's just going to have to find a way around those pesky laws in Hawaii forbidding the release of the original document, or forgo an appearance on the ballot of any state that has such requirements. It's what the Framers would have wanted!

Of course, there'll be challenges to such laws based on the argument that states can't preempt the federal government this way. And that will be cause for tut-tutting by "responsible" right-wingers: Why is the Obaba Justice Department/the Obama campaign/the Democratic Party fighting so hard to overturn these state laws? Until now we've thought birtherism was silly, but, really, what the heck is he hiding?

And if the laws are reviewed by the courts, the right will declare victory either way: a law that's upheld will cause trouble for Obama, while a law that's overturned (maybe by the commie 9th Circuit!) will be "judicial activism."

And, if enough states pass these laws, including states like Missouri where Obama could actually win, and the courts subsequently block enforcement of such bills, we could conceivably have an election in which Obama wins but doesn't really win if you take away his electoral votes in states where he's ineligible (or would be ineligible if it weren't for those damn liberal activist courts).

So, yeah, I could see birtherism going mainstream in that indirect way.


UPDATE: I see that the Arizona bill, after clearing the state Senate, has cleared the House easily (40-16) and is now on Governor Jan Brewer's desk. She can sign it, veto it, or let it become law without her signature. I can't decide which of the two possibilities she'll choose; I just know she won't reject it. We're told:

"Spare us," an Arizona Republic editorial declared Thursday. "Arizona shouldn't be embarrassed by a goofy 'birther' bill. We shouldn't be the punch line in the next round of national jokes."

That probably guarantees that she'll actually sign it, rather than merely allow it to become law. Whatever the lamestream media says, true modern Republicans are against it.

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