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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Half-Life Of A "Birther" Controversy Is Shrinking Rapidly

As I have documented here many times, one does not need to question Barack Obama's birthplace or citizenship to be called a "birther."

"Birther" simply is the new "racist," an epithet thrown around at anyone who questions -- or in the case of Mike Huckabee failed to accurately state -- Obama's narrative of his own life and world view, or vigorously opposes his policies. 

Obama was the least scrutinized presidential candidate in modern history, and remains so.  We know almost nothing about his upbringing other than what he has told us.  The period of time from childhood through college is an almost empty canvass other than what Obama has painted for us.

Mike Huckabee has been tagged as a "birther" not because Huckabee questioned Obama's birthplace or citizenship, but because Huckabee misspoke when he said Obama was raised in Kenya.  In fact, as Huckabee's follow up statement indicates, Huckabee meant Indonesia, where Obama did grow up during several years of his childhood.

But the "birther" tag is not sticking to Huckabee.  Part of that has to do with Huckabee's ability to laugh off such gaffes, and part has to do with Huckabee's history of being gracious towards the First Couple.

But there is something else going on. 

The controversy broke yesterday afternoon, but by mid-afternoon today it was almost gone from the pages of Memeorandum, as other issues have moved to the top, such as the mob scene outside the Madison Capitol and the Supreme Court decision in the Westboro Baptist Church case.  Memeorandum is not a perfect measure, but it is a reflection of how long a story stays active, and in the case of the Huckabee "birther" gaffe, that time period was about 24 hours, give or take.

Whereas in the past Media Matters and the left-blogosphere could keep a "birther" controversy alive for days, the half-life has dropped to a matter of hours. 

Public views on Obama's personal narrative have pretty much formed at this point, so people will believe what they want to believe in the absence of something truly new.  And with the Democratic Governor of Hawaii and media liberals like Chris Matthews questioning why Obama has not released his original birth certificate to put the issue to rest, the charge of "birther" has lost much of its power.

The half-life of a "birther" controversy has diminished dramatically due to overuse.  That is not good news for Obama. 

With the economy stalled, unemployment stagnant, our national debt soaring, our world position in ruin, and a growing national malaise which makes us long for the days of Jimmy Carter, team Obama is going to have to come up with a new tactic for tearing down the opposition.

Update:  Ben Smith gets it exactly right in response to a post by Adam Serwer at WaPo claiming that criticism of Obama's world view is rooted in racism (emphasis mine):
Is the idea that Obama's intellectual history should be tied to his personal narrative and to a father whom he barely knew really all that crazy or racist? I recall some guy writing a book along those lines once. Obama has also spoken himself about the impact growing up in the developing world has had on his views.

More broadly, the line that Serwer's dismissing here is the fringe of an argument that's worth taking seriously: Obama's roots in politics, to the degree he thought about foreign policy at all, are on the left, in the campus anti-nuclear movement and in an academic Chicago milieu in which Palestinian activists recalled him as sympathetic. He moved right on all sorts of things as he approached the national stage, but as he puts a very personal stamp on American foreign policy at a turbulent moment, it's legitimate to look at his personal education.

That isn't to say the fringe of that argument isn't fringy or easily demolished. But the belief that Obama's personal history affects his foreign policy is hardly racism, "stripped down to its core" or not.
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  1. Also not good for Obama - two lawyers raise the stakes (and one of them IS a professional poker player):

    Article from Charles E. Rice, professor emeritus at the Law School of Notre Dame University in South Bend IN. He is the author of "What Happened to Notre Dame?"

    Barack Obama: Is he or Isn't he an American citizen?

    And from attorney Leo C. Donofrio:

    The Jay Treaty Strongly Indicates That Obama Is Not Eligible To Be President:

  2. It seems to me a lot of voters who weren't lawyers were incensed to find out there was no means to test "natural born" in the Constitution and appalled to learn that they lacked standing to question the obviously incomplete story of Obama's birth. A number of states have passed legislation requiring candidates to prove their eligibility though it remains to be seen if the full faith and credit clause will end the inquiry upon the material already released by Hawaii.

  3. It makes perfect rational sense for Obama to not release his birth certificate so long as he has a lapdog media willing to eviscerate his enemies that dare to breathe a word about it. Fair or not, he's been able to use the issue as a weapon, so I can completely understand why he wouldn't surrender it.

  4. @CF, what bothers me is that the press, including Fox News, has completely ignored the issue other than to throw out charges of Birtherism. He'll be gone in two years regardless, I just hate the deception and dishonesty.

  5. He's "historic" in every other way.. you have to admit it's tempting to extrapolate on the birther rumor. (kidding) I also think his core supporters couldn't care less about America or her people and even less about her rule of law, especially regarding immigration. Illegal immigration is one of their best weapons, afterall. Even if the birther rumor was proven, he'd be illegal but his kids would technically be "anchor babies". So we'd lose the debate anyway since we know exactly where he stands on Arizona. They should have asked for his papers when he was rallying in Tucson (kidding again) Having said all that, the shrinking birther half-life is good news re: likely voters, because it indicates the "white-guilt" voters, swing voters, independents who are old enough to recall Carter are CERTAINLY having buyer's remorse in every cell of their bodies, even if they don't admit it publicly. We need any slight change in wind and the point made here re: the shrinking half-life of the birther label is a much-appreciated encouragement! Thanks for this!

  6. Hey, I'm considered a birther and I believe that Barry is a natural born citizen(as opposed to a citizen). His parents(Frank Marshall Davis and Stanley Ann Dunham) were both citizens, so he's the legal President.

  7. "natural born citizen" -- two American citizen parents, and born in the USA.

    It's not up to me, or anyone else, to prove that he is NOT natural born, it is up to him to prove he IS.

    That he has not done so, for whatever reason, allows me to conclude he is not eligible, if for no other reason than there is no evidence in the public domain. That some backroom bozo assures me carries no logical weight at all.

  8. Aren't Indonesia and Kenya included in the 57 states?

  9. One question that occurs to me is How will this look in the History books? I imagine that at some point, possibly many years from now, the truth will out. I see three possible scenarios: That there was no problem with the birth certificate, that there was something embarrassing but not disqualifying, or the final option - that there is something that disqualifies Obama. None of these options will make Obama or the Democrats look good, they have either deceived the American people or played with them (assuming everything is as they say it is). Any adult would have put an end to this a long time ago, by simply producing the document. I assume that only a few close to Obama know the truth, in which case the rest of the Democratic Party need to think long and hard about how they see this playing out, because I don't see a happy ending in it for anyone

  10. I myself am a 'Transcripter.' An offshoot of 'Birther' my concerns lie with the triple super top secret treatment given the college records of the 'most brilliant President ever.'

    Was he not THAT smart or perchance registered as a foreign national?

  11. There are about 10 states currently trying to pass legislation that would require their state Secretary of State to obtain proof from candidates that they meet the Constitutional qualification for the office they are seeking in order to have their name appear on the ballot. If some of these pass, O will either 1) cough up his long form birth certificate 2) Not run for reelection (there's a chance he may reach down deep and channel his inner LBJ) 3) Not appear on the ballot in certain states.

    Boggles my mind that it is, even now, literally no one's responsibility to verify that a candidate meets these requirements. States have never checked, after all the elections are to federal office. The Senate made McCain prove he was eligible (prior to the 2000 primary, I think, or maybe '04), but was silent on Obama. The Supreme Court discussed it in private, but declined to take up the case. So, who's job is it to verify? Meanwhile, for us mortals, you can't get your kid into little league baseball without a certified long form birth certificate.

    What is particularly galling is that judge after judge, in a variety of states, have all ruled that literally no one has standing to challenge on this issue. Not one court has even considered the merits of the challenges.

  12. Just published:

    ...just five days before the election, Obama’s “original birth certificate” was NOT “valid” or in the custody of the ‘State Registrar’...


  13. Dispensation:
    I think the MSMs disinterest in tooting this from every rooftop has to do with Huckabee himself. He's "they're kind" of Republican. A RINO. Would Sarah Palin enjoy the same immunity were she to make a similar gaffe? Don't bet on it.

  14. "No, it's not okay to traffic in pure fiction about Obama's heritage "

    That is the main story which this blog is linked to at memeorandum.

    It's really difficult to put into words just how low these people can go. As Jack Cashill has reported and written a book about, ALL OBAMA AND HIS MINIONS HAVE DONE IS TRAFFIC IN PURE FICTION ABOUT HIS LIFE.

    These people are beneath contempt.

  15. In fact, as Huckabee's follow up statement indicates, Huckabee meant Indonesia, where Obama did grow up during several years of his childhood.

    His comments don't make sense in context if he meant to say "Indonesia" when he said "Kenya." The mistake was trivial, and I'd have more respect for Huckabee if he'd just acknowledge he was mistaken about Obama's bio.

  16. Conservative Media guys like Hugh Hewitt and Eric Erickson refuse to allow anyone close to a birth to come within 2 miles of them. They have a complete restraining order against birthers. The whole subject is Voldemort to them. Why?

  17. Speaking of Huck, why is American Spectator of all places hammering him for comments he made about Natalie Portman?

    - They making it sound like he personally attacked her, which is a lie. He simply said that just because she says single motherhood is hunky dory for her, doesn't mean that makes it good or that her situation is the norm. That's all. How is that in any way akin to personally insulting her? He didn't say anything negative about her as a person at all. The evidence of the overall destructiveness of 'non-traditional' families is overwhelming, BTW.

    - They're acting like it was horrible thing to mention her just because Portman is pregnant. How idiotic. Being pregnant means you're immune to criticism until you deliver? Also, if she didn't want negative publicity, than maybe she shouldn't have flaunted her disdain for family and marriage. They also refer to her as a "girl." She's 29, she is not a freaking girl.

    - She won an Academy Award, so she is very much in the zeitgeist right now, so it's not like Huck just cited her out of thin air and "attacked" her out of the blue.

    Now I'm not Hucks biggest fan (too "moderate" for my taste) but I'm not going to allow publications like AmSpec who should know better label him with inane accusations.

  18. Kyle, the reason is that the left has so stigmatized the term as equating with "extremist" that many conservatives are afraid of being branded "birthers" so they overcompensate like how you cited above.

    I personally am not a Birther, but setting that (and the fact that people who believe in offing fetuses and government control of our lives have no right to label anyone "fringe" or 'extremist") aside, I find that in the grand scheme of things there are far worse things to be than someone who believes Obama was not born in Hawaii. At worst you can call it an eccentric
    belief, especially when you consider that we live in a society where many people believe in crystal powers, Bigfoot, that LBJ offed JFK and that the government and bulbous headed aliens with skinny necks are in coohots.

    I don't know anyone who does not hold 'weird' beliefs of some sort, so I guess we are all extremists!

    Also, the comparisons to Truthers is laughable. Let's see, what's more inflammatory, accusing someone of lying about their birthplace to become President, or accusing someone of murdering thousands of fellow Americans in order to facilitate taking over the world.

    Hmmm...sorry liberals, not even close to being equivalent.

  19. Why trust the memory of the Governor, right?

    "...[Former Governor of Hawaii, Neil] Abercrombie was asked: 'You stirred up quite a controversy with your comments regarding birthers and your plan to release more information regarding President Barack Obama's birth certificate. How is that coming?'

    "He acknowledged the birth certificate issue would have 'political implications'

    "'It's a matter of principle with me,' the 72-year-old said. 'I knew his mum and dad. I was here when he was born. Anybody who wants to ask a question honestly could have had their answer already.'"

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1348916/Hawaii-governor-says-Obamas-birth-record-exists-produce-it.html#ixzz1FstOi2cq