Politics

Birther Watch

By  | 

Technorati chartAs this Technorati chart shows, discussion of the terms ‘Obama Birth Certificate‘ in the blogosphere is rising. And fast. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only blogger out there who seems interested obsessed with the Birther conspiracy movement.

But why the uptick in discussion? What are the true roots of the movement, and where are these people coming from? TechPresident:

The news that American southerners are the most likely to question whether President Obama is actually a native-born citizen got a lot of attention last Friday, when a Research2000 survey on that question was released by DailyKos. Eleven percent of all Americans apparently do not believe Obama was born in the United States, but 23% of southerners (compared to roughly 5% of people from the other regions of the country) share that belief. I thought it would be interesting to see what various trend-culling tools might add to this picture.

A look at Google Trends is certainly illuminating. The top ten states where people are searching on the phrase “Obama birth certificate” are:
1. Louisiana
2. Mississippi
3. Colorado
4. Oklahoma
5. Alabama
6. Tennessee
7. Arkansas
8. Missouri
9. South Carolina
10. North Carolina

Of those, only Colorado is not part of the American South.

There has been much speculation and analysis about what all of this means. However, I think there are two basic factors at play here:

1. Racism. Pure and simple. There are some folks who cannot accept that a black man is President of the United States.

2. Hyper-partisanship. While I think that race plays a small part in the Birther movement, I think the larger chunk of this unstable pie-chart is related to the mostly sane, but excessively partisan conservative segment of the GOP.

People do and say crazy things when they are in power — but they also do say crazier things when they are not in power. See: ‘9/11 Truthers‘.

Right now, the far-right-wing of the conservative movement is out-of-power and — understandably — freaking out about it. The problem is that there are so many other more constructive ways to criticize this president without calling into question his eligibility to hold that office.

In addition, the Birther movement is inadvertently giving Democrats the upper-hand. By spouting off all of this nonsense, Birthers are forcing Republicans in the the House, Senate and elsewhere in government to weigh-in on the issue, at possible risk to their (re)electability.

Now that the MSM has picked up on this highly dubious yet extremely entertaining issue, I think that we’ll see more and more elected Republicans being asked over and over, ‘Do you believe that President Obama was born in the United States?’ This certainly plays into the Democrats hands.

It would do the GOP well to come together and denounce the nonsense for what it is: nonsense. Sure, the Republican party may lose a small part of the fringe of their base, but I highly doubt that Birthers are going to rush over the Democratic party.

[cross-posted at ThePajamaPundit.com]