Birtherism runs into a couple of speed bumps

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, January 28, 2011 22:00 EDT
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I could write some about how the GOP is trying to use anti-choice nonsense to redefine rape so that simply saying “no” or being legally unable to consent isn’t enough, but it’s Friday, and I’m in a good mood and I don’t want to depress myself. So, instead I’m going to deliver to you a cheery tale of how to monetize right wing idiocy, brought to you by Tyler Cowen.

Moving to dispel claims that President Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii, his supporters in the state’s legislature have introduced a bill that would allow anyone to get a copy of his birth records for a $100 fee.

The idea behind the measure is to end skepticism over Obama’s birthplace while raising a little money for a government with a projected budget deficit exceeding $800 million over the next two years.

If they’d done this up front, when they were getting 10-20 requests a week, this would have netted them $78,000 a year. Not a lot, but not nothing. But there’s a little nugget that’s interesting in this story that doesn’t bode well for the Tea Party.

But the number of birther requests has been declining from the 10 to 20 weekly inquiries received early last year, according to the Department of Health.

“Requests have decreased significantly over the years. Currently we receive anywhere from zero to five per week,” said department spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

Are Birthers losing enthusiasm? It seems like it. There’s been a resurgence in right wing media over the past month or so in Birther nonsense, and Jesse’s been sending me near-daily links to places like WorldNetDaily that are really pumping this crap up. My initial feeling was that they’re bored and so going back to the well, but I was all wrong. They’re actually acting like someone in a relationship who feels the spark waning, and so starts buying new lingerie and proposing going out on date nights. They’re trying to win the Birthers back! And now it’s not just the usual crew of rabid internet goobers. Even Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who in the past have either ignored or even criticized Birther nonsense, are jumping on the train.


Top-rated talk radio host Rush Limbaugh on Friday questioned why new Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has not gotten support from the White House in his efforts to resolve the doubts of so-called “birthers” about Barack Obama’s place of birth.

Limbaugh also says he finds it “stunning” that Abercrombie still can’t prove Obama was born in Hawaii as he maintains.

What’s great about being a Birther is you can be a Birther while pretending you’re not a Birther. I think it was Rick Perlstein who summed it up to me once, which is that all conservatives think everyone else in their movement is the sucker.

Glenn Beck, as is his custom, is putting his own spin on it.

For those who can’t click the link, Beck—while holding a bunny he probably then decapitated so he could drink its blood as soon as they quit filming—claimed that Obama referenced the five pillars of Islam in coded terms in his State of the Union speech, by having five platform points, or something like that. While not directly questioning the birth certificate, this is part of the general Birther tent, since the imagined lack of a birth certificate is part of a larger conspiracy theory about how Obama is a secret Kenyan Muslim that is out to turn the country into a socialist theocracy.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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