Get Over It: 'Birtherism' Is Not Journalism


Some people will tell you that there is no such thing as a stupid question. They’re wrong. People ask stupid questions all the time. It becomes a problem when people do it on purpose.

The “we’re just asking questions” rationale seems to be the explanation du jour for the tiresome and self-destructive continuing “Birther” fixation of some journalists who purport to be on the Right. As depicted in a fairly straightforward Washington Independent article, WorldNetDaily Editor-in-Chief Joseph Farah used his Friday night dinner speech at the Tea Party convention to “raise questions” about the President Obama’s citizenship, much to the disgust of other attendees, including Andrew Breitbart. “It’s self-indulgent, it’s narcissistic, it’s a losing issue,” Breitbart told one of Farah’s minions, his frustration evident.


Let me add a few more adjectives. It’s “stupid,” “irrational” and “destructive” of everything we are fighting for. The movement might as well take out its figurative .45, aim directly at its foot, and pull the trigger. And, according to a new book by John Avlon, “Birtherism” began on the Left.

These are the same tactics that have been deployed against us for as long as we can remember -charges leveled not to be proven but to merely insinuate. There’s no real question being raised here – the question, such as it was, was answered in November 2008 when the voters elected President Obama fair and square. He won. We lost – at least until the Congressional elections this fall. More specifically, the whole “birth certificate” argument – which was raised and discredited because of its complete lack of merit – lost, clearly and decisively.

The birthers remind me of the freaks who occasionally show up in court with long diatribes about how the Federal Reserve, in conjunction with the Trilateral Commission, is acting unconstitutionally under their idiosyncratic view of the 16th Amendment, which all boils down to meaning that they don’t have to pay taxes. Oh, and the gold fringe on the flag in the courtroom makes it a flag of admiralty, meaning the court has no jurisdiction over them. The judge usually nods, and the deputies haul the “sovereign citizen” off to jail. And I laugh.

There’s no point in reviewing the utter paucity of anything that the Anglo-American legal tradition might regard as law or evidence supporting the proposition that somehow Barack Obama does not meet the citizenship requirements set forth in the Constitution. The true believers are utterly immune to evidence, repeating like a mantra:

1. Obama is not a “natural born citizen” as constitutionally required because his father was a British subject.

2. Obama is at best a naturalized citizen and is therefore not constitutionally qualified to be the President.


That’s what makes the idea that this whole birther nonsense is about “raising questions” – the notion of asking questions implies that the questioner will accept the answer provided by the facts. You can point out facts like the birth announcement from 1961, but that won’t help. Nor does his birth certificate – oh, I’m sorry, “Certificate of Live Birth,” which is supposed to somehow be different.

The point is that the birther journalists aren’t looking for an answer – they have their answer. Which makes what they are doing not journalism at all. And we know something about mindless agenda journalism because it has been trying to undercut, defame and marginalize our movement for decades.

The last thing we need as the truth and power of our core beliefs in small government, a strong defense and the Bill of Rights are becoming evident again even in places like Massachusetts is to distract and discredit ourselves by tolerating weird, nutty conspiracy theories. It’s also a dream come true for our opponents – a chance to dodge the real questions about out-of-control spending, crippling taxes and hug-a-jihadi terrorist policies and to instead focus on the irrational fixations of a few nuts.

Every time some right-wing journalist “raises a question” about the President’s birth certificate, Rahm Emanuel smiles.

We need to stand up and say, “No.” The whole issue is substantively false – the President has always been a citizen and eligible to serve. That’s just a fact – and facts are supposed to be our currency. If there was ever a question, the voters answered it in 2008. I’m still not sure what the birthers want – do they imagine that after the President breaks down on the witness stand and tearfully cops to a Kenyan or Indonesian pedigree like some Perry Mason villain that the Secret Service is going to load him onto a C-17 for exile in Havana? Dudes, unless his term expires, he resigns or is impeached (and no, there’s no grounds for that either), to pull my President out of office means first going through me, the entire US military and about 299 million of 300 million citizens. It just ain’t happening.

We need to say “No” because this whole discussion hurts our country. The incredible damage to the legitimacy of our system by the irresponsibility of the MSM and enablers like Al Gore in the aftermath of the 2000 election is a disgrace they will never live down. For our system to work, for democracy to function, the critical element is that we submit to decisions that go against us. I didn’t vote for the President; you probably didn’t either. But the answer is not to mumble about his alleged illegitimacy (as so many liberals and leftists did in the wake of their narrow defeat in Florida) but to mobilize and do what we do in America when we want to change our leadership – win elections.

In the ’50s and ’60s, the conservative movement purged itself of the Birchers. It’s time to do the same with their cousins, the Birthers. Sure, there’s a temptation to paper over the differences, to just let the birthers have their say and then count on them to vote our way in November. The Democrats do that with the 9/11 Truthers – they cynically distance themselves from these creeps, but not too far. After all, the Truthers vote and it’s really not too much of a stretch to think the “Bushitler” regime might have at some level been happy to have the attacks happen in order to justify its War for Oil, right?

But the Van Jones debacle shows what happens when you ride the tiger of conspiracy idiocy. And beyond the practical, utilitarian rationale for rejecting it, there is the more important moral one. It’s dishonest and it’s wrong. We have suffered from agenda journalism and its “question-raising” insinuations in the past. It does not become morally right when our side does it and it certainly does not show the American people that we are somehow ready to govern again.

The minority of conservative journalists who are still flirting with this moronic fixation owe it to their readers to accept the answer. As the majority of Americans once again begin to think about trusting us to lead, the last thing we should be doing is demonstrating that we are unworthy of their trust by consorting with nimrods.


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