Sunday, May 08, 2011


According to conventional wisdom, birtherism is a dead issue, but Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana doesn't think so:

...on June 10, 1971, Piyush Jindal was born at Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, a natural-born U.S. citizen, who like every other child born in America, could, constitutionally, grow up to be president.

... Jindal, knowing that his own status will certainly be examined in the event he ends up on a presidential ticket, released his own birth certificate Friday....

Jindal clearly thinks it's a possibility that he could be on the Republican presidential ticket as early as 2012 -- and he thinks he'll be asked to provide what Barack Obama has provided. But why? Conventional wisdom says that only marginalized crazy people still care about birth certificates -- the rest of us either never doubted Barack Obama's or Bobby Jindal's assertions of citizenship by U.S. birth or (in the case of Obama) were persuaded by the recent birth certificate release. The whole issue is supposed to go away now, except on the fringes.

But Jindal thinks he still has to worry about a bill sponsored by a U.S. senator from his own state and his own party. You see, the (perfectly legal) way Jindal became a natural-born citizen jibes with Senator David Vitter's notion of "birthright citizenship," but a way Jindal could have become a citizen doesn't:

...there is a growing movement in America, led by, among others, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to change [the] rules and restrict birthright citizenship.

... The most significant new piece of information is that the Jindals entered the United States on green cards secured not by the governor's mother, Raj Jindal, based on her LSU scholarship, but by his father, Amar Jindal, based on his training as an engineer.

... under the terms of the legislation offered by Vitter, a child born to someone holding a student visa would not be eligible for birthright citizenship.

Vitter's bill wouldn't take away Jindal's citizenship retroactively, but it would make future Bobby Jindals suspect -- and make them non-citizens if the parents' U.S. residency came about as the result of a student visa. Which could have happened to Jindal. So he's just damn lucky he's a citizen in Vitter's eyes, and people like his parents better watch themselves!


A few thoughts here:

I don't know if Jindal is worrying about this needlessly -- maybe this issue really is dead. But I trust his political instincts. I think it could still be alive. I say this because I don't think birtherism is purely a manifestation of anti-black racism, as a lot of people believe -- I think it's also very much a manifestation of anti-immigrant anger in this country, and that isn't going to go away anytime soon, especially on the right.

Thus, birth certificates could become the new flag pins -- if you want to run for higher office, you'd better have both items ready and be prepared to display them (to the same jingoists) whenever they're demanded. And we'll just get used to this, as a requirement for higher office that didn't exist ten years ago.

And finally, this makes me think that Fox/talk radio/Koch/tea party rage is never going to be stopped by left and centrist forces of reason -- it's going to continue to dominate our politics until the crazies start eating their own. It's going to end when there are too many Republican-on-Republican attacks, and the GOP suffers. That moment could come as early as 2012.

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