A year ago an exasperated White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the legions of so-called “birthers” that are adamant that President Obama is an illegal alien and should be dumped from the White House will never go away. A year later, the president celebrates his 49th birthday, not much has changed.
Hawaii officials were so pestered by relentless requests to produce Obama’s birth certificate, that the governor signed a bill that said it was OK for state officials to ignore the birther requests. Tea Party backed Colorado GOP senatorial candidate, Ken Buck, took much heat for his off camera slur at the Tea Party for badgering him with his questions about Obama’s birth certificate. Louisiana GOP Senator David Vitter said that he backs court challenges to Obama’s citizenship. And not to be outdone, talk show kingpin Rush Limbaugh recently raised suspicion about Obama’s birthday, saying on August 3, “Tomorrow is Obama’s birthday, not that we’ve seen any proof of that.” A slew of GOP candidates for state and national offices, Tea Party activists, right-wing bloggers, talk show hosts still rant that Obama is a foreigner, an “alien,” and that Obama, the Democrats, and the media are covering that up.
More than two dozen lawsuits and petitions have been filed in various state courts contesting Obama’s U.S. citizenship (one of them was filed by political gadfly Alan Keyes). The Supreme Court’s refusal to demand that Obama pony up his birth certificate has done absolutely nothing to take any steam out of the movement. If anything, it probably added some vapor to it, by convincing more that the Courts are in cahoots with the Obama White House to keep the real “truth” about his imagined foreign birth secret from the American people.
The birthers have even gotten unintended help from birther opponents. Every newspaper, magazine, talk show host that condemns the birthers as a bunch of wacky, paranoid, Obama-haters stirs the pot even more. They do it simply by acknowledging the issue with a column or a show. The birthers revel in that, and they should because there’s a canny, calculated, and politically cynical motive behind their Obama birth certificate agitation.
WATCH ‘HARDBALL’ COVERAGE OF THE BIRTHERS:
The clamor for Obama to produce his original birth document gained a noisy following long before the final presidential vote tally was in November, 2008. It started the instant that he declared his presidential candidacy in February 2007. Take your pick: He was too black. He was not patriotic enough. He was too liberal, too effete, too untested. He was a Muslim, terrorist fellow traveler, and a closet black radical. The shock of an Obama in the White House was simply too much for many to bear. Obama defied the stereotypical definition of what an American president was supposed to look like, and be like; namely a wooden image middle-aged, or older, white male.
Obama inadvertently gave ammunition to the incipient birthers during a campaign stop in late July 2007 when he quipped that he did not look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills. Obama got torched for saying the obvious and that was that his candidacy was different. Obama later admitted that it was a racial reference. The off-the-cuff remark simply reinforced the point that he and his candidacy marked a turning point in U.S. presidential politics and by extension race relations.
The Obama birth certificate noise makers kicked their rumor mongering campaign against him into even higher gear when some mainstream papers found the birth certificate controversy irresistible copy and grist to get the tongues wagging. The birthers spotted the opening and crudely cloaked themselves in the mantle of public spirited citizens and legal experts with no personal, political, let alone racial, ax to grind with Obama. Their sole goal they claimed was to insure electoral truth and accuracy, to make sure that all the legal requirements for holding a presidential office are met, and to head off a constitutional crisis. They even promised that they would put the matter to rest if Obama simply produced the original document.
That was a lie. The birthers with an open boost from GOP ultra conservatives led by House Rep John Campbell and other House members who for a brief moment pushed a bill that requires all future presidential candidates to produce their original birth certificates. That, of course, would apply to Obama as well when he presumably runs for re-election in 2012. The real value of the birther movement is that it’s an orchestrated back door movement to destabilize, or at the least keep the Obama administration off balance on policy initiatives he’s pushing on health care, the economy, and a softer foreign policy outreach. They are fierce opponents of these initiatives.
The worst thing about the controversy over Obama’s birth certificate is not that millions cling to the issue to make mischief against Obama. Or that some in the media have dignified the controversy by treating it as if it’s a legitimate issue. The worst thing is that few connect the dots and see the birthers as the shock troops to torpedo Obama’s political agenda. That’s not going to change. The birthers sadly are here to stay.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson>