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Friday, July 31, 2009

Dems Can't Unring The Birther Bell

Democrats are tripping over the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii and that there is a cover-up by Hawaiian state officials, among others, who falsely have issued a "certificate of live birth." On the one hand, Democrats and supportive blogs push the issue to the hilt to portray Republicans negatively; on the other hand, Democrats finally are recognizing that their tactics are backfiring.

The Obama-is-not-a-citizen movement started during the campaign, but as David Kuhn writes at Real Clear Politics, discussion of the birth certificate issue has exploded in the past month, pushed mostly by Obama supporters as part of a political tactic against Republicans:
But the treatment of the "birthers" is peculiar. I went on Nexis and did a search of the broad "news" category of the phrase: "birth certificate" and Obama. In the past month there were 564 pieces on the subject (302 in the past week alone!). That is more than half of all the pieces on the subject written before Election Day 2008, which totaled 1,051. Major broadcast outlets from MSNBC to National Public Radio have devoted hours of coverage to the subject in the past week....

Why, then, all the attention now? I've seen the footage of the congressman asked about the birth certificate during a town hall meeting. I've seen the footage of the other conservative representatives asked about it on the Hill. But I don't think that justifies the outsized coverage of late.

Consider that health care reform, what is likely the signature piece of legislation of Barack Obama's presidency, is on the rocks. Secondly, we just had one of the most significant debates about race in American life in some time. Then there are those wars, the economy, spending bills, matters like that.

Kuhn plays it a little coy, but he basically has it right. Media Matters, Think Progress, and a host of left-wing blogs all became obsessed with the Birther theory and movement in the past month, as opposition mounted to Obama's health care plans. What better than to distract attention.

But it is backfiring. It's like telling people not to think about something, which virtually guarantees they will think about it.

So it is not surprising that a DailyKOS poll reveals that 23% of Americans either believe that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.A. or are not sure. The percentages are highest among Republicans and in the South. Considering how hard the left-wing blogs have been harping on the issue (and the tendency of many people only to read headlines), it is not surprising that the perception, or at least uncertainty, as to Obama's citizenship is growing.

Nonetheless, the percentage of people who believe Obama is not a citizen still is lower than the percentage of people who believed that George Bush "stole" the 2000 election. The Gallup Poll revealed that as of Bush's inauguration in 2001, 24% of people thought Bush stole the election against Al Gore, while an additional 31% felt Bush won "on a technicality." This perception persisted even after a newspaper consortium re-count found that Bush would have won using the type of re-count demanded by Gore.

Other Democratic inspired conspiracy theories included that Bush stole the 2004 election (completely debunked here), that Trig Palin was not Sarah Palin's son, that Bush "lied us into war," and most recently, that Bush concealed the Arctic ice shelf.

Democrats used the conspiracy theory as political tool effectively against Bush. And clearly the Democrats love the Obama-is-not-a-citizen conspiracy theory because of the political value. But having raised the theory into the media and political mainstream, there is no turning back.

Much like "Bush lied us into war" and "Bush stole the election," it is too late to unring the bell on the public consiousness as to Obama's citizenship, regardless of the truth.

UPDATE: David Kuhn cites a spring 2007 Rasmussan poll as showing how effective Democratic "truther" attacks on Bush were among Democrats:
That poll found that only 39 percent of Democrats believed W. Bush did not have advance knowledge of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while 26 percent said they were unsure and slightly more than one third of Democrats believed W. Bush knew his country was going to be attacked.

Related Posts:
The Big Smear
Swift Birthers
Psst...Don't Tell Andrew Sullivan Our Secret
"Palin Lied, People Died" And Other Media Fictions
Bush Hid Ice Images From People Who Can't Use Google

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  1. It's vaguely reminiscent of the months following 9/11. Democrats were hollering that Republicans were accusing them of being unpatriotic, especially over the flag issue. No Republicans were calling Dems (at that point) unpatriotic.

    However, Dems proved to be gravely unpatriotic when the Iraq war geared up, doing their best to undermine not only our military but the entire country and our efforts and image while fighting a difficult war. (Myself, I firmly believe Democrats are unpatriotic or vote for those who are. Really, a distinction without a difference for me.)

    Most conservatives are not reflexive conspiracy theorists but we all know the lefty fever swamps depend on just such lunacy. Thus it is with this birther stuff. Most making the loudest noise about it are on the left, not the right.

  2. Dems don't WANT to unring the Birther bell. Why would they? These loonies are the face and the base of the Republican party and the Dems love it.

    Last year, there were some Left wing loonies making noise about John McCain's birth certificate because he was not born in America, he was born in Panama. The Congressional Democrats including his two main rivals, Clinton and Obama immediately quashed it and this nonsense by declaring him a US citizen and brushing off these far left claims as ridiculous and not relevant. Why can't the Republicans do the same to these tin-foil hat loonies?

    Now these poor elected Republicans are getting ambushed at town hall meetings by these Birther loonies 9/11 Truther style and at the same time, getting blasted in the editorials of their local papers and in the poll numbers by their constituents. Their voters are angry that these elected Republicans are not dealing with important issues like health care and deficit spending and instead, catering to this tin-foil hat Birther loonies nonsense. Anybody with a half a third grade education knows the Dems wouldn't want to unring this bell. The architect himself Karl Rove couldn't buy this kind of political fodder.

    These Birther loonies are an inflamed hemorrhoid on the Republican's backside and the Dems and Libs are cashing in on it for all it's worth. During the recess and these Republicans have their town hall meetings, Youtube will be flooded with these Birther loonies abmbushing their elected officials in 9/11 truther style and Dems will have a blast with it.

  3. If I were a conspiracy-minded type (generally I'm not), I would think that all the frenzy to discredit the "birther" issue would signal awareness on the Left that it is in fact an actual problem. If it were just some fringe theory with no basis in truth, ignoring it instead of wasting time and effort on discrediting it would be the sane response.

  4. Felix, the Left would never let an opportunity like this go. This is the gift that keeps on giving. We're not trying to discredit you, we're stoking the fires for political gain.

    You should read some of the editorials from these Republican's hometown newspapers. They are getting blasted by intelligent Republican/Conservative voters because instead of dealing with important issues like this health care legislation, deficit spending, or stimulus spending, they are playing tiddly winks with these Birthers. These intelligent Republican/Conservative voters want their elected officials to stop catering to this nonsense and do their damn jobs. Don't take my word for it, check out the editorials from the Orlando Sentinel.

  5. I tend to think it might have been ill-advised to raise the issue particularly when the electorate is coming to realize Obama lied us into a trillion dollar stimulus. I doubt even in this frequently ADHD impaired culture, people who are worried about paying their bills are likely to be distracted by a poll pointing out some members of the Republican party have doubts that enough attention was paid to see if Obama was all he was proclaimed by the media to be.

    I will grant you that most of the electorate was not paying close enough attention or they wouldn't be surprised now to find the emperor has no clothes. They are paying attention now, however. They are skeptical at a minimum. I also think it is patently insulting to think no one would wonder why the sudden need to spend a tidy sum to poll such a trivial question. It smacks of desperation or concern. Neither bodes well for the Democrats who have gotten a little too used to getting away with being too cute by half.

  6. If it were just some fringe theory with no basis in truth,


    This was reported by USA Today.

    Hawaii: Obama birth certificate is real
    By Dan Nakaso, The Honolulu Advertiser

    In an attempt to quash persistent rumors that President Obama was not born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, Hawaii's health director reiterated this afternoon that she has personally seen Obama's birth certificate in the Health Department's archives.

    "I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawai'i State Department of Health verifying Barrack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen. I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago...."

    On Oct. 31, Fukino originally tried to put an end to the belief among so-called "birthers" that Obama was not born in the United States and thus was ineligible to run for the office of president.

  7. Dems are truly losing the birther info-war. It's good to finally see one of their deceptive defamation tactics fail.

  8. Obama – The Manufactured President

    Obama has gone to great lengths to sequester most of his past records. That, in addition to falsehoods in his books indicate Obama is a phony, a manufactured person. The mainstream media has gone out of its way to obscure and lay a blanket over Obama’s past. Yet, we know even the most intimate details of Sarah Palin. Does anyone else see anything odd here?

    Obama is a manufactured president. Manufactured by the left, sold to the press and adopted by the Democrat party. Obama has lied about who he was and continues to lie about who he is. He states blatant lies about his legislation. One only has to listen to what he says about the current Health Care Bill to realize that.

    More and more American people are seeing they have been sold a bill of false goods. There are many things people should know about who this Hope ‘n Change figurine is besides, with certainty, where he was born. Had the Media been doing its job, we would have had an actual informed and open election in 2008.

  9. I was wondering why there was all this sudden interest in the birth certificate issue. This rumor has been on the net from the start of the 08 election, yet now it is big time news.

    Figures the new found interest would be nothing more than another Astroturf campaign.

  10. The thing is that those of us that wonder what reason the President conceals practically all of his records, are far more distressed by the fact he is marching his socialist agenda down the playing fields while the "refs" are paying attention to the weirdly dressed idiots in the fan seating, and not crying foul on some of the "illegal" tactics he is using to do so.

    On one hand I can't help but wonder why he just didn't publish them, but on the other I want to yell "shut up! we have far more serious problems with him taking over more and more of the American dream and throwing it in the trash!"

  11. I have seen the short form Obama has presented.

    I also have copies of a long form from someone born the day after Obama in the same hospital.

    These two are so different that I feel Obama should just allow his to be released.


    Obama claims to be a uniter but he laughs at people over this one, as we become more and more divided over this, he still laughs.


  12. So you Democrats who believe the "birthers" are a wonderful gift because it supposedly shows there are "kooks" in the Republican party - How did that work for you during the last election when the Democrats had the 9/11 truther "kooks"?

    Do you really think people vote based on what other voters in the party think? What's so kooky about wanting to see a document that someone has spent over $1 million to hide? Isn't that simply natural curosity?

  13. Yeah...I've heard this rumor on the $1 million spent on hiding documents but can never find any substantial proof of it. Just right-wing rhetoric from right-wing blogs and commentators. Please...provide some sort of proof of that. I Googled it and found nothing.

    The Democrats had the 9/11 truther kooks and the Republicans have the Birther kooks. Difference is, Democrats won two election cycles in a row. Message!

    Y'all keep spewing out all this "we're so high and mighty" rhetoric (from a seriously small minority) about Obama's birth certificate. Why don't you all grow a set, get a lawyer and take it to court? Problem solved!!!

  14. This is not a conspiracy. I've noticed that it's a common practice to immediately define the right as dealing in conspiracies. However, words mean things, and the issue of Obama's bc does not fit the definition of a conspiracy.

  15. Syntax Game,

    So far as I know, the lawsuits that have been brought over this issue have been dropped due to a lack of standing. The one case closest to having standing was that of a (reserve?) military officer suing over the legality of deployment orders resulting from the President. The orders were subsequently canceled, as I understand.

    I would assume it does cost some money to fight this stuff in court. That is where people are getting some money amount.

    I don't know what the answer is to the issue. I wish those who opposed the birthers would send better rebuttals. But there is no substantial proof of his birth abroad, it doesn't seem, so how can one believe that?

    Tough to believe either side, so my questions are of a "why not just...?" variety. As in, "Why not just release the birth certificate?" (like McCain) or, "Why not just release his college records?" (did McCain release these, too? I thought we knew McCain was bottom of his class or something). Didn't Obama have to go through a background check for security clearance at some point? Wouldn't they have looked at his documents and specifically his birth certificate? "Why not just point to that instance?"